Jake Paul didn't just knock out AnEsonGib. He delivered an uncomfortable message to boxing purists: You don't matter anymore.
Unbeaten middleweight champion Demetrius Andrade defended his WBO title last night in Miami, and no one cares. The bout between YouTube “celebrities” Jake Paul and AnEsonGib was the real attraction of the night [ESPN].
First, it was Logan Paul and KSI – now this?
Boxing’s hardcore audience was outraged that yet another YouTube battle upstaged a “proper” boxing event. Crusty boxing websites even refused to acknowledge the fight between Jake Paul and AnEsonGib.
Lucky for us, boxing’s hardcore audience is so small you have to cup your hand to your ear just to hear them.
The event streamed live on DAZN, promoted by the same team behind heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua. English promoter Eddie Hearn suffered backlash from the few boxing hardcores left, but he’s a smart man and knows what draws attention to his product.
That’s what matters.
A smart boxing fan would realize that the publicity of this Jake Paul win is probably good for boxing. Someone tunes in to watch the YouTube fight and then stays to watch the undefeated Andrade retain his title [Sky Sports].
DAZN hopes to eventually pit Andrade against one of their top stars in Canelo Alvarez or Gennady Golovkin. Having him seen by some fresh eyes that usually wouldn’t be watching boxing is a definite benefit.
Jake Paul is a name that most older boxing fans probably don’t know. He has almost 20 million subscribers on YouTube, though.
Let’s put that number in perspective. DAZN, a gigantic sports streaming company worth billions of dollars, has eight million subscribers worldwide [Sports Illustrated]. Jake Paul, one streamer, has more than double that on YouTube.
The fight between Jake’s brother Logan and KSI added an extra 190,000 subscribers to the DAZN platform. Those are paying customers.
And they’re not paying to watch legacy boxing.
The press conference video on DAZN’s YouTube channel for the main event title fight garnered around 29,000 views. The Jake Paul vs. Gib one accrued nearly 700,000.
Jake Paul is good for boxing. That’s the bottom line.
The world is changing, and online platforms such as YouTube matter. The people who have influence and an audience on that platform matter too.
They are, dare I say it, celebrities. Yesterday’s TV and tabloid magazine stars are today’s Twitch and YouTube streamers.
Boxing purists will likely never accept the likes of Jake Paul, and that’s fine. No one cares what they think anyway.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of CCN.com.
This article was edited by Josiah Wilmoth.