If you were anything like me, boxing was more on the periphery of your sports knowledge, a blur of fists on your partner’s TV. Yet, recently, I became intrigued. Progressing from the doorway, to edging onto the sofa, to gasping as men black out from the raw power of a single punch, I found myself astonished at the sheer level of discipline a boxer can possess. This may be why I felt so deflated by the KSI vs Tommy Fury fight – and I only watched the highlights reel. Watching two men spend the majority of the unlicensed fight in a quasi-care bear clinch with KSI windmill punching as if he wished to take flight, I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry.
These fights are bringing in a fresh audience, an audience willing to pay on pay-per-view.
However, that being said, it would be unfair to judge KSI by the same standards as other, more experienced boxers such as Cancelo or Anthony Joshua. He is primarily a YouTube star with a sprawling fan base and a multi figure energy drink company under his belt, so what he lacks in technique he certainly makes up for in a more mercenary fashion. Certainly, we cannot ignore that these fights are bringing in a fresh audience, an audience willing to pay on pay-per-view just to see someone they can watch on YouTube for free. Compellingly, according to Entain, over the last five years new customers have been specifically drawn to fights containing a youtube star. Mixing sport and entertainment isn’t unknown to more well-known boxing stars either. Even Tommy Fury’s half-brother Tyson Fury has his own reality TV show, and he is the WBC Heavyweight Champion of the World.
Making boxing alive.Mike Tyson
In a way, I think that YouTube boxing has a certain charm to it. Although the quality of the fight can often be questionable, and 7 figure salaries are outrageous, amateur sports can allow new people to enter the ring of competitive sports culture without getting immediately knocked out by their lack of prior knowledge. Even Mike Tyson stated that YouTubers are “making boxing alive” again. However, If that doesn’t convince you, just remember, Rocky wasn’t ‘real’ boxing either but who doesn’t love a bit of Eye of the Tiger?