By Kevin Lake, Staff Writer
On Oct. 14, Youtuber KSI stepped into the boxing ring against Tommy Fury, the paternal half-brother of WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury. The fight took place at the Manchester Arena in England. After six rounds, the battle went the distance with the result being a majority victory for Fury.
However, the fight amassed controversy after a judge for the match retracted their previous ruling after declaring a miscount. Fury would win via unanimous decision on the corrected scorecard, but the lack of clarity from organizers has drawn criticism. Some even went as far as to label the entire event as a scam.
Celebrity boxing has become a massive trend in recent years. “Gimmick fights” are nothing new, with one of the earliest being 1994’s bout between Danny Osmond and Danny Bonaduce, who were both musical and sitcom stars.
There has been a massive uptick of influencer fights in recent years with the trend starting with the 2018 match between Logan Paul and KSI which was a massive financial success. It kicked off the boxing careers of both individuals, with Paul going the distance against Floyd Mayweather, a loss to KSI in a rematch and the recent victory over Dillion Danis. KSI has seen a longer career with five wins, one draw, one no-contest and now a loss against Tommy Fury.
To call the pay-per-view of the KSI vs Tommy Fury card a success would be a massive understatement, as over 1.3 Million PPV streams were purchased, which means an estimated $64,330,187 in revenue.
The success of these spectacles has had many sports fans divided, is this a new way to introduce the public to a dwindling sport or is this diluting the whole profession? Some are optimistic about the impact the new attention will bring.
“I think it’s going to get younger people interested in boxing. I think that’ll spark some interest since they already are familiar with who these people are,” senior education major Daniel Borghard said.
Junior criminal justice major Logan Campbell does not see it that way.
“It’s terrible. It almost seems fake, they are a bunch of low-level boxers who don’t really know what they are doing. It’s also bringing a lot of people into the sport and this is where their first opinions of the sport start. I feel like it’s like the worst way to view the sport, you know, it’s a poor introduction.” Campbell, who has boxed in his spare time, said.
Not every internet celebrity boxing match has been successful, however. In April, Creator Clash 2 took place. The event, organized by Ian Jomha, better known as “iDubbbz,” sold a mere 50,000 PPV buys and lost an estimated $250,000. The charity event was filled with controversy of its own after removing YouTuber Froggy Fresh from the roster for undisclosed reasons.
Either way, Borghard is convinced that the underwhelming card in April doesn’t reflect celebrity boxing as a whole, especially given how much of a hit the KSI vs Fury fight was.
“It’s not something that I really find that much interest in watching but if YouTubers are willing to get hurt, power to them I think there will always be an audience for that,” Borghard said.
Campbell believes that the spectacles are not going away any time soon.
“It’s gonna continue forever. I think there’s always gonna be celebrity boxing and now we’re actually seeing new imitators like Rough and Rowdy Barstool Sports,” Campbell said. “I think now it’s just become like a thing of like, there’s gonna be like professional boxing and then like, that weird famous thing where you have to be famous to be here and it’s going to be almost two different sports.”