In recent years, there has been a growing trend of social media stars and influencers swapping the filters and the followers of Twitter and Instagram for the gumshields and gloves of the boxing ring.
Most recently, wildly popular YouTuber Jake Paul faced off against MMA fighter Ben Askren and knocked his opponent out in the first round.
While Paul’s victory might have come as a surprise to some, a close perusal of UFC betting odds and advice (found here, for interested parties) would have revealed that Paul was actually the favorite going into the contest.
But why have he and his brother Logan been stepping into the squared circle in the first place?
Why are social media and boxing cross paths at all? Read on to find out.
Popularity and prestige
Both social media and boxing are populated by personalities who rely on their popularity for their livelihood. Take Floyd Mayweather, for example; widely regarded as the most accomplished boxer alive today, Mayweather is also the most popular in social media terms.
He has 22.3 million Instagram followers and 7.8 million more on Twitter, indicating the strength of his outreach. Meanwhile, those numbers are rivalled by leading influencers like Jake and Logan Paul. The former has more than 15 million followers and has clocked up an impressive 3.5 billion video views on YouTube, while the latter has 20.3 million Instagram fans and 6.1 million more on Twitter. As such, they enjoy similar levels of prestige and popularity – making a crossover highly lucrative for all parties involved, as per the next point…
A mammoth payday
One of the biggest criticisms levelled at the Paul vs Askren fight was the level of seriousness (or lack thereof) which the MMA veteran brought to the bout. Askren was visibly out of shape at the commencement of the fight and he failed to land a single blow on his opponent, succumbing to a Paul right hook within three minutes of the opening round. The referee’s decision to bring the fight to a close was also deemed to be dubious.
Nonetheless, Askren did not look too displeased with the outcome, posing for photos with a smile on his face after the event. Why? Because of the $500,000 he had just pocketed for 2 minutes and 18 seconds of labor.
Although fans of either individual will probably be loath to admit it, the spectacle was little more than an exercise in money-making – and the same could also be said (perhaps to a lesser extent) in the fight between Jake’s brother Logan and Mayweather June 6.
Seeing stars get their comeuppance
While the Paul brothers certainly have their fair share of fans, it’s also undeniably true that they also have a substantial number of detractors. Many people find their work irritating and arrogant, which is why thousands of those who tune in to watch them go toe to toe with people like Askren and Mayweather. They want them to get put in their place and finally receive their comeuppance. Of course, that has not happened to date – but with more bouts now scheduled into the calendar, it may well take place in the near future.
For his part, Jake Paul has challenged ex-UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley to a showdown this August, while his brother Logan appears to be weighing up his options.
Will the social media stars finally be sent to the canvas? Only time will tell. Although they might not seem like happy bedfellows on first glance, the truth is that the popularity and divisive personalities of social media influencers is ripe for the score-settling (and money-making) nature of the boxing ring.