Before I state any of my opinions on the topic of celebrity boxing and how it affects the actual sport, let me say one thing. I am not dismissing the training and hard work these people put in to fight in these exhibitions, but if you put yourself on that stage, you subject yourself to criticism of your performance. The same goes for a singer, actor, or any other entertainer.
Floyd Mayweather, former pound for pound king of boxing and one of the greatest to ever put on a pair of gloves, recently fought influencer Logan Paul, someone who has only fought two other times — one majority draw and one loss to a fellow influencer. Paul obviously has no realistic shot against Mayweather in a boxing ring. However, on fight night, some believed Paul put up a decent fight against Mayweather and merely staying alive is an accomplishment. This camp isn’t entirely wrong, but it was apparent to boxing fans that Floyd barely put up a real fight. He did his classical dancing while hitting Paul just enough to give him a tough time. Paul was hilariously gassed by the second round, but he managed to make it to the last bell. Kudos for that. However, the casual fan/influencer stan may take the result of the exhibition more seriously than was intended. Floyd was never known for his knockout power, and anyone who watches boxing on a consistent basis saw that he barely tried to put up a fight. At the end of the day, both men got what they wanted. Floyd got paid handsomely and Paul gets to say he survived eight rounds with a former boxing king.
The problems stem from there, because people might not understand what’s for show and what’s for sport. Neither of the Paul brothers has any chance against any professional boxer in fighting shape. I emphasized the end of that sentence mainly because Jake Paul thinks beating a 36 year old who, on their fight night, looked like a local uncle at a bar on Sunday night is impressive. Sorry for the diss there, Ben Askren, I just have to get my point across. However, people still think that it is a big deal. That’s where the damage comes in. People begin to look down on boxing because their favorite former YouTuber can beat up a humanoid Slimer. Jake running around throwing disses like he’s Muhammad Ali isn’t hurtful until people start to think there’s substance behind it. Personally, I don’t think Jake actually believes what he’s saying. Maybe he does, but that would make him delusional. One thing is for sure though: he’s getting rewarded for it.
However, it’s not all bad. People going to watch these types of fights brings a huge amount of eyes onto the sport, and uninitiated eyes at that. New interest is something the sport desperately needs. Personally, I know one person who started watching boxing because of Jake Paul. I do my best to inform them on the ins-and-outs of the “sweet science” while being sure to separate show from sport. The boxing community as a whole can more than appreciate new fans coming to join us regardless of why they’re coming, so long as they can separate fact from fiction while enjoying the sport. Ultimately, I’m not completely against the recent upsurge of celebrity boxing. I enjoyed the Mayweather vs. Paul exhibition fight; the commentary was quite funny and seeing Paul get manhandled was funny to me. I shared laughs with my friends all night and went to bed happy. I can’t complain about that. The real problem is when people start falsely believing the fights their favorite influencers put on is anywhere near the professional level. It’s like the classical debate about if LeBron James could fight Mike Tyson because he’s a foot taller, decently heavier, and “built differently” than Mike. Tyson would send LeBron to a place much worse than Cancún, I’ll tell you that. Maybe to you I sound like a grumpy old man shouting, “Get off my lawn!” Maybe you’re right, but I’m just defending the sport that I love from potentially harmful ideals.