Saturday night witnessed the ultimate evolution of boxing’s Pay-Per-View generation as two vloggers decided to don massive pairs of gloves and head guards for something that didn’t remotely resemble a boxing match.
At best, the flailing display was a glorified sparring session for internet-famous people, known mainly by those around the age range of 13 to 30 years old.
What was better suited to Celebrity Boxing for Red Nose Day was turned into a multi-million-pound event. Solely due to the pair taking advantage of their considerable fan bases.
The word ‘fight’ should be used very loosely in the context the vloggers used it. A six-round YouTube Boxing match-up with huge gloves and not much risk of being hurt doesn’t constitute the turmoil real boxers go through inside the ropes.
Hyped up ‘beef’ between the pair would have been best served in a bareknuckle bout. At least then, the pretenders could have settled their ‘differences’ like men.
Sadly, Pay Per View boxing was once again taking advantage of as two people with no links to the sport. They’ve no interest in giving anything back took massive paychecks for what was a non-event in boxing terms.
Some professionals giving it their backing is neither here nor there. Criticism of those that did is unwarranted as the spotlight was shone on the sport to a new set of fans, of which may be a few will now take an interest.
But most will use the platform given to witness their favorite YouTuber in action. The result won’t get a fair reflection of what real boxers do day in and day out.
The bottom line is boxing gets nothing from this spectacle but bad press and abuse to those involved by many who know absolutely zero about the sport we all love.
Looking at some of the Twitter responses to pro fighters, some of whom have challenged for or held world titles, has been shocking as the internet fans big up their YouTubers as potential world-beaters – which is completely laughable.
What does boxing get from this in the long run? A stark warning about where the sport is headed if anyone with a few million followers can dip their toes in and take no risks before walking off with millions of dollars.
Completely in contrast to the grafting fighters who put their lives on the line to earn peanuts in comparison.
The animosity will only grow on both sides of the fence. For one, I cannot see the good that came from what so many chose to witness and pay for on Saturday night.
From Fortnite dancing in the ring to a decision that leads to a certain rematch, darkness was cast over the sport for those few hours the event lasted.
Any future Pay Per View events, and there will be many, should be labeled under something other than boxing. They should not be attributed in any way to the professional code.
Calling it show-sparring or web sports doesn’t have the same pull to make people click that PPV button, though, so these events are always likely to be called ‘fights’ and nothing else for the foreseeable.
Do these presenters care about the potential long-term effects ‘playing boxing’ can have? Probably not. Both walked away with tens of millions of dollars for what was ultimately a celebrity event that didn’t have a shred of anything to do with true pugilism.
What they’ve done is open the floodgates to many more spectacles of the same ilk. Ultimately, this will compete against ‘real’ events and only be detrimental down the line.
Anyone with a few million subscribers will now have a lightbulb over their head. They will think Pay Per View boxing is an easy target to make a quick bucket of cash.
Even a future YouTube Boxing Promotions company becomes a possibility down the line.
Where will it all end? – Who knows.
Phil Jay is Editor of World Boxing News. Follow on Twitter @PhilDJay