In what is essentially a glorified six-round pay-per-view white-collar extravaganza, social media superstars Logan Paul and KSI prepare to trade leather at the Manchester Arena this Saturday night; something which has been described as the biggest internet event in history.
The two fighters are popular vloggers who have garnered tens of millions of fans throughout the past couple of years with comedic content on YouTube.
However, it appears that they have abandoned their respective slapstick qualities – at least for the time being – and are now poised to lock horns in the latest episode of the YouTube boxing phenomenon.
It all started in February after Londoner KSI’s unprecedented domestic showdown with rival YouTuber Joe Weller in February. After emphatically dispatching of Weller in the third round in front of a capacity crowd at London’s Copper Box Arena, and being presented with the World YouTube championship by Dereck Chisora, KSI took the opportunity to call out the American Paul brothers in a post-fight interview.
Logan Paul, incidentally, at the time had garnered international outrage and condemnation for a controversial, since deleted video shot in Japan’s notorious ‘suicide forest’. However, it appears that the Westlake, Ohio native has effectively harnessed his athletic prowess – no doubt cultivated through prior experience with wrestling, mixed martial-arts and American football – and, in accepting KSI’s challenge, has dedicated himself to a period of intense and specialised training alongside his younger brother Jake, who is fighting KSI’s younger brother Deji as the chief support.
Jake Paul and Deji, two popular YouTubers in their own right, became embroiled in a pre-fight altercation after the latter made an unsolicited appearance at Ricky Hatton’s gym in Hyde yesterday, where Jake Paul was hosting a public workout.
In their preparations for this fight, all four fighters have also ingratiated themselves with various personalities from the boxing world, including Shannon Briggs, Jeff Mayweather, Jorge Linares, Nathan Gorman, and Badou Jack. Michael Buffer and Johnny Nelson are also heavily involved, in the capacities of announcer and commentator, respectively.
The fight has polarised opinion across the world, with it being disparaged as a circus show in some quarters, and hailed as an innovative novelty in others.
Former UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping, who believes the contest trivialises the serious nature of combat sports, offered a particularly scathing assessment:
“I find it insulting to everybody that has dedicated their life to being a fighter. They’re almost making a mockery out of the sport, by doing this.”
Whatever the case, Saturday night represents the first fight of what is rumoured to be a two-part transatlantic tussle, with a rematch reportedly scheduled for the Staples Center in Los Angeles at some point next year.
Article by: Navi Singh
Follow Navi on Twitter at: @hombre__obscuro