In This Game, Everything is For Sale

“The most insidious and dangerous enemies of boxing have not been foes from without, but the terrible breakers-down on the inside. The most serious threats to boxing always have come from within – Nat Fleisher, 1936

Over a weekend that featured a Bellator MMA event in Oklahoma, an Ultimate Fighting Championship card in Moscow and a junior middleweight WBO title fight in Fresno, the majority of the combat sports world’s attention was fixated on the professional debut of two non-combatants. Logan Paul and KSI (real name Olajide William Olatunji) threw down at the Staples Centre in front of a near-capacity crowd, in an event broadcast to millions on Dazn that stands as easily of the highest profile “prize-fights” of 2019.

Paul and KSI, two YouTubers with tens of millions of followers between them across various social media platforms, were “settling” a “beef” that dated back over 18 months. KSI originally “called out” Paul in 2018, culminating in a white-collar amateur boxing match staged at the Manchester Arena and broadcast over YouTube to the tune of over one million pay-per-views at $10 a pop. The rematch, promoted by Eddie Hearn — never one to do much hand-wringing over the “bigger picture” where big money is concerned — and his Matchroom Boxing, anchored an otherwise solid undercard, which featured world champions Billy Joe Saunders and Devin Haney making respective defences of the WBO super middleweight title and a version of the WBC lightweight title.

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