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the decline of boxing continues

Paul on Mayweather: It’s the most important fight of his life 0:26

(CNN) – It’s hard to tell if it’s a pantomime or a crafty marketing ploy, as the YouTube fighter’s brother took off the undefeated pro boxer’s cap and they started a heated fight, ahead of the press conference.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Logan Paul appears to be an incongruity, but it is the latest fight in a lucrative series of exhibition fights with non-professional boxers that would seem to indicate boxing’s growing decline.

Mayweather is worth hundreds of millions, with a 50-0 undefeated professional boxing record and multiple world title belts to his name. Paul doesn’t have belts to his name, but he has a lot of YouTube views, nearly 6 billion and counting. Its history is short; He has lost his only professional fight to another YouTuber.

Previously, we have seen YouTubers fight YouTubers; we’ve seen boxers fight mixed martial arts (MMA) stars; We’ve even seen Paul’s brother Jake – also a famous YouTuber – fight a former MMA fighter and a former NBA player and win both times.

But on June 6, the worlds of professional boxing and entertainment will collide in the ring.

The businessmen must be rubbing their hands in glee. When Jake Paul stole Mayweather’s cap before his brother’s press conference and the couple became embroiled in an uproar, social media and the media exploded with videos and photos of Mayweather looking furious.

Mayweather and Jake Paul

Mayweather and Jake Paul face off.

And during the most recent final conference in Miami Beach before Sunday’s fight, Mayweather emphasized that Paul is stepping into the unknown.

“There is a difference between YouTube boxing and elite boxing, you will see the difference,” Mayweather told Sky Sports.

“He’s trusting his height, he’s trusting his reach. So we’ll see. I’ve trained a bit, here and there, not every day. But I don’t have to.”

For boxing author and historian Mike Silver, who has been a fan of the sport since 1959 and has seen such greats as Sonny Liston, Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier and Sugar Ray Robinson in action, the rise of these lucrative fights tells him that the The sport he grew up loving is “dead.”

“Boxing is a business and your business is show business,” said Silver, author of “The Bow of Boxing: The Rise and Fall of Sweet Science.”

“Boxing is show business. And the only positive thing I can say is that these people make money. I feel like guys, great fighters like Archie Moore, Sugar Ray Robinson, Willie Pep, they must be spinning in their graves.

“[Los peleadores actuales] they won more in a fight than those fighters, great fighters, achieved in all their professional boxing careers.

“But let’s face it. This is not boxing. Boxing as I knew it is dead.”

Mayweather and Logan Paul face to face.

Pros and cons

Exhibition fights are not unusual for boxing. There have been infamous shows. Even the great Ali fought the fighter Antonio Inoki in 1976, an event that Silver remembers as “very disappointing.”

Since Paul and British YouTuber KSI met in the first professional boxing match between YouTubers, this branch has grown rapidly.

According to Jake Paul, his first-round knockout of former UFC fighter Ben Askren in April generated $ 1.5 billion of pay-per-view subscriptions. And with each pay-per-view costing $ 50, the fight generated $ 75 million, though those numbers have been questioned.

Inoki in action against Muhammad Ali during an exhibition fight.

Silver says he doesn’t get mad at anyone who makes money where he can. However, he comments that the idea that Jake Paul, the “Kim Kardashian of boxing,” according to Silver, generates so much attraction in a professional fight when he has only fought professionally twice is a reflection of the “junk culture” of today’s society. .

In the opposite corner, Michelle Joy Phelps – boxing host and founder of ‘Behind The Gloves’, believes there are positives to be drawn from these fights.

“You make money on such huge scales and people tune in and the audience is there,” Phelps told CNN. “How is he dying? Maybe we have more boxing politics, which makes it more frustrating.

“I don’t think he’s dying at all, but politics has definitely complicated things, so people are more agitated or upset about boxing. But when the events they want happen, the whole world is watching.”

Paul tries to hit KSI at the Staples Center.

Filling a void

One thing that has disappointed boxing fans in recent years is how difficult it has become for organizations and boxing promoters to stage high-profile fights.

There are four main commissions in professional boxing and 17 weight divisions. Previously, there were only eight weight categories, but more were added over the years.

Each commission crowns its own world champion for a weight division, sometimes with multiple champions at the same time. Boxing magazine ‘The Ring’ also crowns its own world champions.

The recent Anthony Joshua-Tyson Fury back and forth disappointed many, while a possible fight between Terence Crawford and Errol Spence seems unlikely at this point.

When Mayweather fought Manny Pacquiao in 2015, the idea for the fight had come up five years earlier and because it took so long to prepare, both fighters were arguably past their prime when they finally stepped into the ring, says Silver.

Mayweather hugs Manny Pacquiao after defeating him in their welterweight title unification fight.

According to Silver, the reason for the difficulty in organizing these star events is because each boxing commission has its own champion, which means that each is reluctant to put a fighter in the ring against the best opponents for fear of losing. .

That’s where these exhibition struggles have filled the void.

“If the box had been organized like it is today, Marvin Hagler probably never would have fought Tommy Hearns, or if they did fight, maybe it would be after they were both in their prime,” said Silver, who also wrote the books. night the referee fought back “and” Stars in the ring: Jewish champions in the golden age of boxing. “

“We probably never would have seen Alexis Arguello against Aaron Pryor. We probably would not have seen Sugar Ray Leonard against Roberto Duran either. These are fights that made boxing history and make this sport what it was. And we have most likely never seen. Frazier against Ali. It’s absolute greed [que] it has taken over the sport and the lack of respect for the fan. “

Muhammad Ali takes a hit from Joe Frazier during their heavyweight bout, which was dubbed “The Fight of the Century.”

“Don’t tell me this is boxing”

During his boxing career of nearly 20 years, Mayweather earned the nickname “Money.” After retiring for the second time in 2015, he has fought and beaten UFC star Conor McGregor and undefeated kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa, earning big paydays.

The fight against McGregor was something of a turning point, as people realized the large sums of money that these events could generate.

For that fight, Mayweather reportedly made about $ 275 million, while McGregor took $ 85 million, according to Forbes.

While the quality of boxing has frustrated many boxing fans, another criticism of allowing the inexperienced to enter the ring is its safety.

“Your brain wasn’t meant to be shaken by blows to the head,” says Silver.

Professional boxers have trained for years to move their heads and feet to avoid heavy blows to the head as much as possible, and when you are inexperienced, knockouts, heavy blows to the head, and concussions are they come back more frequently.

Jake Paul stands in front of Ben Askren after taking down the former MMA fighter.

“The idea is to hit your opponent on the head,” said Phelps. “It’s not a slap-on-the-arm contest. Getting hit on the head can shock anyone.

“And when you are not properly trained to move your head to avoid blows, most people just stand up and exchange [golpes] and all you see is a nasty fight of people throwing as many punches to the face as possible. “

While Paul-KSI’s first fight was amateur and therefore required head protectors, subsequent fights have been professional, meaning they have had the same conditions as the pros – no head protectors and no head protectors. 12 rounds of three minutes.

However, for Sunday’s fight, the Florida State Boxing Commission (FSBC) confirmed to CNN that it will be considered an exhibition match because it is not sanctioned by the body. The FSBC also confirmed that it will not provide judges for the event, but will provide a referee. Both fighters will wear 12-ounce gloves and there will be a total of eight three-minute rounds.

This has resulted in some first-round knockouts, notably Jake Paul’s second-round knockout of former NBA player Nate Robinson, whose images went viral on social media afterward.

The security risks of allowing these untrained fighters to do so with force and violence has a section of boxing fans, including Phelps, wondering if this is a good idea or if stricter measures should be put in place to protect them. fighters.

And for the upcoming fight on June 6, Silver believes there are a lot of risks involved when it comes to letting the two square off in the ring.
“If this Logan Paul over 200 pounds, if Mayweather is distracted or something like that and walks away and hits Mayweather on the head … there’s risk there,” he said.

“Yes [Mayweather] he’s really in shape, he would stop Logan Paul in one round. I don’t care if you weigh more than 22 kilograms (50 pounds); he’s still close enough to his fighting days to hurt this guy. And if he really throws punches, even though he weighs 70 kilograms or whatever he weighs for that fight, he is a professional expeller.

“And if you nail this guy with punches, it won’t be easy to take him down because he’s a big guy. So if this is a legitimate fight, he’s going to have to hit, unless Logan Paul has a glass jaw, he’s going to have to hit him many times in the head, a couple of blows to the body, to bring him down. “

So after the rapid rise of these lucrative quasi-boxing matches, what is the staying power, the end game? According to Silver, it will come down to money. “If the fans get upset and say, ‘We’re not interested, we’re not going to pay for this,’ then the parameters will change.”

“But I don’t see it changing … it depends on the economy.”

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