If you’ve been on the internet in the past decade, you likely know Logan Paul. The 26-year-old Ohioan has become the quintessential social media celebrity. He rose to fame through his YouTube channel and launched a podcast, ImPaulsive, that’s aired over 200 episodes and has 2.7 million listeners. More than 100 million people follow him across his social accounts, and he’s even made the leap into more traditional media, appearing on shows like Law & Order: SVU and The Masked Singer.
But that was just his first act. Having made a name for himself in newsfeeds across the globe, he’s now set his sights on a new challenge: professional boxing. His next fight, a June 6 bout against one of the greatest boxers alive today, the undefeated Floyd Mayweather, proves just how seriously he’s taking it.
“I’m walking into this ring with the energy of possibility,” Paul tells Men’s Journal. “I don’t think anyone’s going to doubt my boxing ability after this fight.”
The fact that Paul, who has only a single pro fight under his belt, is taking on a superstar like Mayweather is just one reason why this fight is so unusual. The other reason: Everyone is talking about it.
Unless you’re a die-hard fan, boxing probably doesn’t rank very high on your list of things to care about. Although it once occupied a vaunted position in the pantheon of American sports, professional boxing now lives in the shadow of organizations like the NBA and NFL. On top of that, UFC has captured a huge audience for combat sports, leaving boxing panting in the corner.
“Boxing is against the ropes right now,” says Eric Kelly, a two-time New York Golden Gloves champion and owner of the SouthBoX gym in The Bronx. “It’s used to being the big dog on campus, and now it has to share the spotlight.”
There are more than a few reasons why boxing has lost so much ground. For one, it’s a bureaucratic nightmare: There are a wide range of weight classes and multiple governing bodies, all with their own titles for each class. In sports like baseball, football, hockey, and basketball, athletes compete for one trophy. In boxing, title belts get passed out like finger food at a cocktail party, which is confusing for fans. And with different promotional companies in charge of arranging bouts, the fights that fans actually want to see don’t always happen.
“Boxing keeps shooting itself in the foot by doing shit like that,” says Kelly.
Add in issues like steep pay-per-view prices and poor judging, and it can send boxing spiraling into a downward trend.
Into this void steps Logan Paul—who has a plan to make boxing relevant again, along with his brother, Jake, who’s also transitioned from social media star to pro boxer.
“I think boxing’s biggest problem has been solved ever since my brother and I entered the sport,” Paul says.
In his view, boxing faces two big conundrums: a lack of showmanship and a lack of reach. Most fighters don’t promote themselves and reach out to fans online, he says, and they don’t have enough personality in and out of the ring. When other content is always a swipe or a tap away, boxing just isn’t interesting enough to break into the mainstream. Having built their careers by racking up views and likes on the internet, that’s not a problem for Paul or his brother.
“Jake and I lead with entertainment,” he says, “because we were content creators first, that’s what we’ve mastered.”
And whatever Paul does, he brings an audience of a hundred million people along with him. When he steps into the ring to face Mayweather, those hundred million people suddenly become potential new boxing fans. Even boxing insiders recognize that Paul is right: Boxing has a reach problem.
“You look at some of the old school-type fighters and trainers, and they don’t gain that much momentum,” says Charles Bosecker, a professional matchmaker with 10 years of experience working with top promoters. “Self-marketing and branding and all that stuff, it’s huge.”
By any measure, Paul’s rise in boxing has been quick. In his only professional fight, against British YouTuber KSI in 2019, he lost in a split decision. Now he’s going straight to a high-wattage bout against a superstar without toiling through undercard matches like most boxers do. As you might expect, that’s ruffled feathers in the sport.
“It’s like any business that you’re in,” says Bosecker. “How would you feel if you’re working for a company and you see a guy who doesn’t have the credentials, doesn’t have the degree you have, and all of a sudden now he’s your boss?”
Paul actually agrees with them—he knows he didn’t come up through the ranks. But the chance to fight a boxing legend, and potentially change the sport in the process, was too good to pass up.
“When you’re presented with the opportunity to fight one of the greatest fighters of our generation, you don’t say no,” he says. “I figured this would be a great test to see what I’m made of, and put on a show to entertain millions and millions of people.”
To that end, he’s been training like a maniac, even moving to Puerto Rico to focus on getting fit and improving his skills. He’s not wasting an opportunity to put on an unforgettable show.
His ability to entertain sets Paul apart from other boxers you’ve never heard of, but it’s more than an act to draw in eyeballs. It’s essential for his success in the ring. After his loss to KSI, he realized he had to be an entertainer, even with the gloves on. His boxing style is a careful balance between showmanship and skill.
“I dance around the ring, I mock my opponent,” he says, “and then I’ll land a perfect one-two.”
Even though he’s taking on one of the most formidable boxers in the world, Paul is nothing but confident. He knows he’s come a long way. He’s also thinking bigger than just one fight: a career as a pro boxer, and a new vision for what the sport could be.
“I think it’s time to really start putting my foot on the gas and ride this rocket ship over the next five, 10 years.”
Will Logan Paul change boxing forever? Only Floyd Mayweather is standing in his way. No matter how the fight shakes out, and no matter what you think of the two fighters, it’ll be must-watch TV. And that alone is a refreshing change for boxing.
“It’s going to be really interesting to see what happens,” Bosecker says. “I think it’ll be fun. Get a beer, grab some popcorn.”
Mayweather vs. Logan Paul is a special exhibition bout presented by Mayweather Promotions, FANMIO and Mavathltcs that will take place on Sunday, June 6 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, FL. The telecast, which is being produced by SHOWTIME PPV, will air live beginning at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT and can be purchased now at SHOWTIME.com and FANMIO.com.
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