Split decision: Boxing world reacts to 'joke' celebrity fight

Chris Young
Sports Reporter

The bout between high-profile YouTubers Logan Paul and Olajide "KSI" Olatunji, on the surface, looked like any other high-profile boxing pay-per-view.

Glitz and glamour was a condition of entry at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles as the two vloggers, who boast a combined 40 million subscribers.

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Celebrities were everywhere - Mike Tyson, Justin Bieber and rapper Wiz Khalifa were among many more in the crowd as Paul and KSI faced off in the ring for the second time.

The fight itself had a mixed reaction in the boxing community - some fighters and fans were keen to see whether the YouTubers’ massive audiences would attract new fans to the sport.

Others questioned the wisdom in relegating professional fighters to the undercard, while Paul and KSI, ostensibly amateur fighters despite months of training, took centre stage.

Logan Paul (red/white/blue shorts) and KSI (black/red) exchange punches their pro debut fight at Staples Center on November 9, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. KSI won by decision. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

KSI won the fight via split decision, after Paul was docked two points by the referee in the fourth round for punching his opponent while he was on the ground.

The fight drew a massive audience, both on streaming service DAZN, who streamed the fight, as well as many thousands more watching on other platforms.

Pro fighters rubbish ‘joke’ match

While the fight proved to be a money-spinner for Paul, KSI and DAZN, former world bantamweight champion Abner Mares was less than impressed with the spectacle.

While admitting the venture was an exercise in good promoting, Mares said the fight was a ‘slap in the face’ to professional fighters who had dedicated their lives to making those kinds of fights.

“Everybody’s got their own thoughts and opinion about this fight last night, but me as a real professional boxer that has sacrificed so much to get to a certain level and get paid what I deserved is a slap in the face in so many ways,” Abner wrote on Twitter.

“Nothing to do with the network or how it was promoted because if you ask me yes it’s smart on their end financially, but I saw so many illegal punches that could’ve damage a persons life and to see how much they got paid for a 6 round fight and to see real pros be the under cards.

“I know a lot of y’all said it was entertaining but so are the fights between two crackheads in the street.

“I’m just speaking as a real pro fighter but then again I have to remember that we live in a world that is upside down now days.”

Others were more willing to give KSI and Paul more credit for their efforts.