With the coronavirus pandemic having a vice-like grip on the global boxing landscape, members of the NJ sports betting community are left with a lack of options to wager on. Although big-name fights are left in limbo, stars from a digital platform are now ready to step into the ring.
It is fair to say that there are many reasons behind the growing trend of YouTubers getting in the boxing ring; an additional level of fame, increased social media standing, or an eye-watering amount of money for your efforts, to name just three.
While although YouTube sensations duking off in the ring seems to be the latest combative fad, one does question how long can this last and can it become the new product in which to sell Pay-Per-Views?
Many promoters know that they are walking a fine line when entering this new chapter of staging events, a line that needs to be balanced between bringing in new audiences or scaring off the already established one.
However, with the media landscape getting all the more crowded and even more so in the sporting realm, boxing is one of the sports that knows it needs to evolve to stay with the times, especially with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) gaining more mainstream traction by the year.
While it is the UFC that can almost draw similar parallels to YouTube boxing and if there’s anything that sells in terms of fighting, it is the element otherwise known as the ‘freak show’ – something so bizarre, that you just have to watch it.
Launched back in 1993, the UFC was billed as ‘No Holds Barred’ and with the flimsiest of restrictions it certainly lived up to its moniker, as fights that you could previously only imagine were now playing out in front of your very eyes.
The, at-times, barbaric freak shows certainly did not scare anyone off, and thanks to the likes of Ken Shamrock, Royce Gracie, and Dan Sevren, the UFC was quickly transforming from underground hit to national and even international acceptance.
Of course, the more exposure and fandom it received, the more ire it drew from the United States government, and after much pressure from the likes of Senator John McCain, a tougher rulebook and enforced legislation would be needed to secure its long-term future.
Ultimately, it was the bizarre that sold, and although Dana White now presents a much-polished MMA product these days, the early days of bloodshed and all-out violence are what gave it the launchpad it needed.
While although YouTube boxers are not dishing out guillotine chokes or heel hooks, they do now possess that same kind of freak show factor, and that is why the likes of Logan Paul and KSI are commanding so much interest when they square off.
For their armies of followers, it is a chance to see one of their favorites in rather strange surroundings and, more importantly, to support them in what is usually a challenge to end a longstanding digital grudge.
On the other hand, for ardent boxing fans or even casual ones for that matter, it is a chance to pay your money and take a seat for the latest fighting carnival in town – a festival, that can only be considered as good business for any promoter who is prepared to risk his livelihood.
A perfect example of this is the second meeting between Logan Paul and KSI, one that ended up being the third most-streamed fight on the DAZN platform and only behind Andy Ruiz vs. Anthony Joshua and Canelo Alvarez and Sergey Kovalev.
Also, UK audiences are not all that far behind in terms of viewing figures, and with over 200,000 Pay-Per-View buys at approximately 12 dollars a time, you can soon understand why YouTubers want to get in the ring.
Critics will argue that the war of words before a fight is manufactured, and although there may be a significant element of truth to that, everything knows that controversy makes the most cash.
It’s certainly not an element of the sweet science that is to everyone’s taste, but there’s no denying that it is attracting a younger set of eyes to the sport. If Logan Paul is the hook, then Anthony Joshua or Tyson Fury are very much the meat on the bones.
That is why YouTubers are being used as a gateway to bring in new fans, and with pugilism perhaps being marginalized over the past decade or so, this could be the catalyst for a top-level resurgence in the sport and one that sees boxing once again claim mainstream heavyweight gold.