Mike Tyson, YouTubers, and the popularity of an impure boxing spectacle

Roy Jones Mike Tyson heavyweight

Joe Scarnici / Triller

More credit has been laid at Mike Tyson’s door and the new YouTuber generation of ‘boxers’ this week, leading to head-scratching as to why big names in the sport feel the need to do so.

Ten-time world champion Oscar De La Hoya was the latest to lay praise at the door of social media presenters, those parading as professional boxers.

The Golden Boy Chairman obviously wants to make sure he gets a piece of that pie moving forward, as there certainly must be some reason for the comments.

Yes, it was great to see Mike Tyson make a comeback. See him move around the ring for eight rounds against a fighter in the same age bracket as himself.

Absolutely a great thing for Mike to do for his own finances on the back of a deserved legacy in the sport.

Kudos to Mike Tyson. I take my hat off to him.

Here’s my argument. It wasn’t the purest form of the sport. Yes, more people are tuning in to see Mike Tyson and his undercard of YouTubers and entertainment. The more eyes, the better, great!

But making these events a regular occurrence will be harmful in the longer term. The real side of boxing, the side that made these exhibitions even possible, will suffer from the sheer amount of events that are now planned.

More and more of the paying public will put their hands in their pockets to see the impure form of pugilism, and our already muddied, and salted waters will become indistinguishable.

Highly talented superstar fighters who should be getting the headlines and the paychecks will ultimately lose out to a lesser boxing form.

YouTubers can get themselves in shape. Even Mike can get himself in amazing shape. We know this.

But once inside those ropes, it’s not the advert for boxing we should be promoting a lot of the time.

We have to promote the exceptional match-ups and unbelievable fighters that put bums on seats and legacies in the record books – as Mike did in his day.

I’d love to see Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis, and others fight once per year. To roll back the good old days. It would be superb to see under tighter safety controls.

But adding in the glitz, glamour, and YouTubers who together look more like a car park or backyard boxing match takes away too much of the purity.

We have to see big numbers on the sport’s real side before we get too carried away with exhibitions.

At present, PPV numbers are down. The biggest fights are struggling to be made. Money that should be put into the professional game is being plowed into sideshows.

This is a huge problem.

Oscar De La Hoya Mike Tyson
Stacey Verbeek

MIKE TYSON & DE LA HOYA

Professional boxing will only suffer as long as the likes of De La Hoya and Tyson himself believe that fighters who cannot fight bring anything to the fight game.

It seems a money-driven statement from anyone to suggest otherwise.

It’s not the fight game if you’re truly not a fighter. There’s also the danger aspect that gets missed completely here.

One of those posing like a pro will get badly hurt due to a lack of ring knowledge. It’s simply a matter of time – a mere inevitability.

Nate Robinson can count his lucky stars that it wasn’t him on the Mike Tyson undercard recently. But one day, it will happen.

For now, the cloud continues over a sport seems to be all to familiar with being used and abused over the years.

That won’t change anytime soon.

We can only hope that the ‘more eyes on the sport’ people keep promising us eventually move over to supporting the real pros.

So far, I haven’t seen any evidence to suggest they have.

The views expressed in this article are that of the Editor, Phil Jay. WBN celebrated its 10th Anniversary on August 1st, 2020, and is the top-visited independent boxing news website in the world.

Phil Jay is an Auxiliary member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow on Twitter @PhilDJay