Influencer boxing: a wind of change in the boxing world
Boxing events featuring celebrities and influencers have been on the rise in recent months. The leader of this movement is Jake Paul, originally a youtuber turned professional boxer. On social media, the young man has more than 50 million subscribers! Some fans and professionals in the boxing world think that this trend makes a mockery of the venerable sport. However, there is also a good side to influencer boxing too…
A new audience for boxing
When Paul took up boxing, he brought with him his loyal and passionate fans. His fights immediately generated an impressive turnover: as good as or better than that of the world’s biggest fighters. This inevitably attracted the attention of boxing executives and marketing players.
Wasserman has announced the creation of a company that will organise celebrity fights. The bond between celebrities and fans is tighter than ever: social networks allow fans to feel close to their favourite stars and fanbases are measured in thousands of followers. This feeling of closeness also creates a bond of loyalty, when the celebrity tries something new fans often follow. This is what happened with Jake Paul, which is the most convincing example, and the legendary Mike Tyson went so far as to claim that Jake Paul had “resurrected boxing” after sharing the bill with him on 28 November 2020.
It was also interesting to see the footballer Cristiano Ronaldo face Conor McGregor in the octagon – but that was a battle of earnings rather than actual combat!
Attracting young audiences
As a lack of connection between combat sports and the younger generation has been pointed out, combining fashion, music, culture and sport is a way to attract young audiences. The four-hour Tyson-Jones fight night is an excellent example of this new format. Snoop Dogg was the presenter, there were musical performances by rappers Lil Wayne, Wiz Khalifa and DaBaby and the show was sponsored by trendy brands such as Weedmaps. And the evening was a success.
What about the quality of the fights?
Having fights watched is good, but what about the technical quality of the fights? These influencer fights generate as much money as high level boxing, yet what is the real level of the fights? Are they championship level fights? For some this is not yet the case but it could become so. For others, celebrity fights are a different kind of boxing. In the case of Jake Paul, he is now licensed as a professional boxer and fights in fully sanctioned events. Espinoza said he sees in him the stature to go to the top level.
The quality of a boxing fight is not always apparent to a neophyte who follows his favourite personality. Celebrity, sports, music and influencer fights generate a lot of bets and you could easily bet on these fights with William Hill’s joining bonus. Thanks to betting, you will experience the fights even more intensely.
Some celebrity fights feature professional athletes, such as former NBA player Lamar Odom, who have the fitness to perform. Some sportsmen have successfully converted to combat sports.
One example is Sonny Bill Williams, a popular rugby player who became a professional boxer and has a very successful career. In the same idea of converting, Jérémy Janot and Jérôme Leroy are two Ligue 1 footballers who have embraced a career as a professional MMA fighter. And you, which footballers would you like to see in the ring?
Boxing and trends
If celebrity influencer boxing is the trend of the moment, the union of boxing and trends is not new. The first trend in boxing was “white collar boxing” in the US in the late 1980s: lawyers, doctors, bankers and office workers demanded to be trained and to have a real boxing match. The trend progressed to the organisation of white collar fights by Bruce Silverglade, the owner of Gleason’s Gym in New York.
This trend has moved into the entertainment world, opening the door to new forms of competition with fights reminiscent of the fairground fights of the Belle Epoque. Celebrities have gradually been tempted by the experience. Examples include the fight between presenter Leslie Dennis and comedian Ricky Gervais in 2003, and Shaquille O’Neal’s two exhibition fights against Shane Mosley and De La Hoya.
The vindictive dimension of influencer fights is not new either, as there have always been fights to wash away an affront or end a clash.