Stop Letting Celebrity Boxers Steal Your Money
Most Americans work hard to earn their living.
Celebrity boxers are not among them.
Yet, Logan and Jake Paul have prospered since their entrance into the sports arena in 2018. While Jake has drawn attention for his overhyped knockouts of former NBA player Nate Robinson and retired UFC fighter Ben Askren, Logan has yet to win a fight. Still, on Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium, the 26-year-old braggart hocus-pocused his online infamy into an alleged $20 million payday after getting walked down by Floyd Mayweather for eight exhibition rounds of aggrandized sparring. Even at 44 years of age, Mayweather is the king of promotional fighting and, in his own words, the best “when it comes to legalized bank robbing.” That is what the Paul brothers have been doing in their feeble attempts to join the ranks of reputable fighters. They have swindled spectators who watch with hope that somebody slugs one of these guys so hard that they don’t get back up. This past weekend, Logan played the role of Cole Younger in a Jesse James Gang-like stick-up.
Cole who? Exactly.
The fight sold an estimated 4.5 million pay-per-view buys, around the same number as Mayweather’s fight with Manny Pacquaio (4.6 million) in 2016 and well above his bout against Canelo Alvarez (2.2 million) in 2013. While the common denominator was Mayweather, his opponents were established and respected stars of their profession. Meanwhile, Logan Paul’s first non-professional match garnered 1.3 million PPV purchases. Then, Jake Paul’s most recent contest topped that, reportedly selling 1.5 million PPV’s. On August 28, Jake will fight aging UFC veteran Tyron Woodley, a reality television-like attraction that will probably outdraw his past scraps.
However, reality TV gives these non-professional boxing matches too much credit. So does comparing them to a sports entertainment event like WWE. Both reality TV and professional wrestling involve fictional drama, scripted to elicit specific responses. While the precursor to celebrity boxing matches — press conferences, weigh-ins, pre-fight interviews, etc. — appear artificially similar, the actual event does not live up to its billing. It would be like audiences showing up to watch Bill Goldberg and instead getting Duane Gillberg. Viewers tune in to watch the Real Housewives of Hollywood only to see the Vloggers of Westlake, Ohio. There are set roles in reality TV and professional wrestling for villains and heroes. In celebrity boxing, there are just villains and duds. Any semblance of a hero is a figment of our soon-to-be disappointed imagination.
The only thing the Paul brothers do well is play the role of a cheesy villain. They are like a school bully everyone wants to see get their ass kicked. Every time the insolent brat gets into a fight, the whole school shows up in anticipation of watching them get what is coming to them. Only, the bully always picks on a smaller opponent that will not embarrass them, even if they lose. Either way, the bully’s status as a dominant or irritant (often both) is maintained, leaving the crowd disappointed and wanting more. The let-down brings the audience back for the next chance to see what they want, even if it never happens.
Why do we have to keep coming back? A tormenter feeds off of attention. The Paul brothers are no different. That is how they gained notoriety in the first place. They began as — and remain — magnetic internet personalities for all of the wrong reasons. They have had their respective streaming channels suspended, put on probation, and temporarily removed at various points.
The warning signs are all around. Yet, onlookers have continued to give the Paul brothers a reason to be heard and seen for three years. Even if you do not pay a cent by streaming the fight, you give purpose to their pageant by watching. The amount of eyes drives their promotions and extracts lucrative deals from online outlets wanting to cash in on the craze. Social media shares their clips (lowlights) and chirps about these two guys to the point they were trending on Sunday more than the United State’s Men’s National Soccer Team. Instead of being bored by a bumbling duet that was closer to ballroom dancing than actual fighting, you could have watched Christian Pulisic score the most meaningful international goal in recent USMNT history. At least at the end of the Floyd Mayweather-Logan Paul exhibition, the fans in Coral Gables sent a wave of boos throughout the stadium. That is one thing I can applaud.
The more concerning part was most of the audience did not know the “fight” was an exhibition. Folks came expecting Mardi Gras and received a dollar store masquerade. There were no referees and, appropriately, there were no winners. Granted, Jake Paul made it difficult to discern after screaming his bleached beard off that his brother had earned the victory. At least one Paul has a KO on his single ply paper resume, but expect more of the same when Jake eventually steps back into the ring. The spectacle of cringeworthy drama is enticing, but there are at least three better ways to spend killing your brain cells: scroll through puppy Instagram pages, redownload Candy Crush, or watch a real sport.
I know this because I’ve previously fallen victim to the celebrity boxing craze. I watched Logan lose to KSI. I watched Jake knock down a half-his-size Nate Robinson and the one-pint-too-many Ben Askren. I’ve been bewitched by their sheepish sorcery, but never again. I refuse to let bad acting and lesser athleticism devalue my already uninteresting evenings. As Saturday Night Live’s Pete Davidson put it while reporting during the Paul-Askren fight, “tonight shows that if you have enough followers, you can truly f***in do whatever you want.” There lies the antidote: stop following them. That is the only way to get these two twits out of our increasingly impressionable brains and back where they belong, getting killed in cameo appearances on Law & Order: SVU.