As I write, it’s New Year’s Eve. 51 days ago, at the LA Staples Centre, KSI beat fellow internet icon Logan Paul in a boxing match before a near-sellout crowd, with over 20 million fans watching worldwide.
It was the pair’s first professional fight. And yet it was the main event of a pay-per-view aired on national television.
The undercard featured only life-long professional boxers. Rap megastars Rick Ross and Lil Baby performed for KSI’s ring walk. Pop icon Justin Bieber was ringside to support Logan Paul. And it’s estimated the two fighters made over £10M each.
So who are KSI and Logan Paul? KSI (real name Olajide Olatunji) first uploaded to YouTube in January 2010, his chaotic gaming videos and sketches quickly achieving millions of views. Paul gained a following making short sketches on a different platform and made the jump to YouTube in August 2015, where his vlogs proved immensely popular.
Since then, they have become YouTube powerhouses. Their hard work and dedication has earnt them over 40 million subscribers combined. Both have released music, starred in films, and had controversies (Paul uploaded a video showing a suicide victim’s body in January 2018); by their own efforts they have transcended the world of YouTube and achieved celebrity status. The pair have used YouTube as a gateway into Hollywood, into the music charts, and now into a professional boxing ring.
On November 10th, KSI and Logan Paul went six rounds with no headgear and 10-ounce gloves, hoping to end a two-year feud. The pair had fought before – in August 2018 they had an amateur white-collar match, which ended in a draw. (After beating fellow British Youtuber Joe Weller in an amateur match in February 2018, KSI called out Paul, beginning their rivalry.)
During the build-up, the pair released diss tracks on each other, and two intense press conferences were held. But on the 10th November, the two stepped into uncharted territory, boxing with 10-ounce gloves and without headgear for the first time.
KSI confidently controlled the first three rounds. Paul seemed cautious, and in the third round he slipped to the canvas twice. KSI landed a blow to his head that knocked him down a third time – however no official knockdown was awarded.
In the fourth, after landing a clean uppercut, Paul held KSI’s head while he punched him again – an illegal move. As KSI fell, Paul illegally punched him twice more. These blows resulted in a two-point deduction from Paul’s card. The fifth and sixth rounds saw them frantically swinging, trying to find a knockout victory. But neither could.
After the fight, it was announced that KSI had won by split decision. The pair showed their respects. The feud was settled.
And now, with the rivalry ended, what next? We now move into a new decade in which ordinary people can become professional actors, musicians and, of course, boxers – and sometimes all three – through YouTube. The career paths of KSI and Logan Paul show that, through dedication and independent effort, individuals can grow to rival corporate entities, and achieve legitimate celebrity status. This event was encouraging to witness and ended the decade on a hopeful note.
I have no doubt that KSI and Logan Paul will tackle and conquer many other industries in the 2020s. Good luck to them.
Article by Sam Huxtable