Following his Legends Only League match-up with Roy Jones Jr., Mike Tyson praised YouTube boxing for drawing new fans into the sport. “My ego says so many things, but my reality says this, they helped boxing so much. Boxing owes these guys some kind of… they owe these YouTube boxers some kind of respect,” Tyson said to reporters. “They should give these guys some belts because these guys make boxing alive.”
Boxing has been on the decline in the U.S. in recent years, especially over the last 10. Lack of star-power and superfights has been blamed for the downturn.
In recent years, high profile Youtubers — highlighted by the Paul brothers — have been generating huge interest in celebrity fights. Jake Paul stole the show on the Tyson vs. RJJ card with an absolutely viscous knockout of former NBA player Nate Robinson.
Paul, now 23 years-old, is 2-0 professionally to go along with one amateur win in as many attempts. The Paul brothers helped to put YouTube boxing on the map thanks Logan Paul’s grudge match with rival YouTuber KSI.
Sometime next year, the younger Paul hopes to avenge his brother’s loss. Jake Paul and KSI have verbally agreed to a fight in what would be one of the biggest combat sports events of 2021 were it to take place.
The rise of MMA and subsequently the UFC has also been cited as a factor in boxing’s decline. All four major sports in the U.S. have seen their ratings dip in 2020 while the UFC has seen ratings trend up. This does not include streaming numbers from ESPN+, which are likely trending up as well. The UFC has also seen very good PPV numbers in the COVID era, with last July’s Usman – Masvidal clash raking in as many PPV buys as Mcgregor vs. Alvarez.
Mike Tyson acknowledged the rise of MMa and the UFC when praising YouTube boxing. “Boxing was pretty much a dying sport. The UFC was kicking our butt,” Tyson said. “Boxing is going back thanks to the YouTube boxers.”
Tyson has acknowledged the UFC’s rise in the past. On a Comedy Central appearance back in 2015, Tyson was asked what advice he would give to young, aspiring boxers. “Go to MMA,” he replied.