There was a lot to hate, but also a lot to love about Saturday night’s blockbuster boxing match between American Logan Paul and Britain’s KSI held in Manchester, England.
On the one hand, you had a bunch of cringeworthy moments from attention-seeking YouTube stars stepping into a boxing ring that, for the most part, represented the sport at an extremely low level compared to a real, professional fight.
On the other hand, there were some moments of passionate battle, wonderful sportsmanship, and brotherly love.
The co-main event between Logan Paul and KSI’s little brothers – Jake Paul and Deji, both 21 – was somewhat one-sided. Jake had a clear size and skill advantage and was able to win every round, but Deji, much to the English crowd’s delight, was able to put up an excellent fight, and actually bloodied Jake’s nose at one point.
Many thought Deji would not last past the first round, but he made it all the way to the fifth before the referee stopped the fight. Deji’s refusal to give up despite getting badly beaten by a bigger, better opponent was one of the highlights of the night.
“Respect to Deji, he’s a warrior and he put up a great fight,” said Jake, who challenged American musician Chris Brown to a boxing match after his victory.
A dejected Deji apologised to the crowd after his defeat. “I’m sorry I let all of you down, but I promise you this isn’t the end of me.”
But for as much flak as the event received for being a freak show as opposed to a real sporting attraction, Logan and KSI (real name Olajide Olatunji) showed some high-level skills, especially considering the two have only been boxing for a year and a few months, respectively.
The fight itself was extremely competitive and entertaining to watch. Logan had a clear size advantage and got off to a great start, hitting KSI with some big shots early on and dominating the first two rounds. It looked like KSI was in trouble and would be humiliated in front of his home crowd.
But he battled through adversity as the muscular Logan seemed to tire. Showing great determination and endurance, KSI won the sixth and final round as Logan appeared on the verge of collapsing.
In the end, the judges voted it a “majority draw”, a decision that some people called “rigged” because the two had already agreed to fight a second time in the US in February. However, a draw was a very reasonable decision considering how close the fight was.
“Hey Logan, I guess there’s only one thing we have to do; I guess we have to have a rematch,” KSI said after the fight.
“If it’s what the people want!” Logan replied enthusiastically.
All in all, the spectacle, called “the biggest event in internet history”, was a sell-out at the Manchester Arena, which has a capacity of 18,000. More than 800,000 people watched the fight online for HK$79 on YouTube pay-per-view, while an estimated 1.8 million netizens saw it illegally. It shows the incredible influence YouTube wields globally, and it appears that there are several more even bigger events to come.
Edited by M. J. Premaratne