KSI vs Logan Paul II: Refreshing In Era Of Doping And Fight Dodging
If you can peel away the toxic nonsense, look beyond the hype, then a real 50-50 fight will take place at the Staples Centre in downtown Los Angeles on Saturday night when KSI and Logan Paul meet once again.
The two YouTubers, filthy rich from their life on our screens, have just emerged from ten weeks in training camps, their bodies transformed and their opinions as big as ever. It seems they both believe they could now succeed in the boxing business at the highest level, the fighting part, that is. They have already won the battle with the business side of the game and huge global numbers and revenue are expected for their rematch. This is, however, their licensed debut as professional boxers and any talk of future ring successes is fanciful at best and closer to fantasy. It is not an insult to boxers, it is just stupid talk.
They fought to a draw in an unsanctioned six-rounder last year in Manchester, with headguards and big gloves; it was a celebrity fight, but it attracted 21,000 people live and over one million bought the fight online. It was competitive, fun to watch, but they each ran out of ideas and stamina.
KSI is 26, has close to 20 million followers across various platforms and has prepared in London and Las Vegas under the guidance of Viddal Riley, an unbeaten professional boxer from east London. One judge gave him the first fight, the other two scored it a draw and he is the slight betting outsider this time.
Paul, who is from Los Angeles, is 24, he also has about 20 million followers and he has put in the hard work - his body is totally different this time - in the care of former world heavyweight champion Shannon Briggs. Paul and Briggs have so far won the pre-fight storm of hype; it could all change when the two teams descend on Los Angeles for the final conferences, eyeballing, shouting and pushing matches. Paul is the favourite, that could also change. In boxing the wise money often follows the wise heads and so far very few so-called experts have made a judgement on a fight that is proving so divisive.
The boxing debate over this fight, as you can imagine, is not polite. However, the sport needs to look at its continued unresolved doping problems and just how many super fights fail to happen before turning all of its hatred on two novices with a genuine desire to fight.
The Paul and KSI fight is a real 50-50 scrap and with so many unknowns it could end in so many different ways. Another tight, messy distance fight looks the most obvious outcome, with the winner being the smarter boxer. The problem is that there is no real baseline to measure their ring smarts; they are both fit, possibly over-trained, but little else is known for sure. A glimpsed six-pack means nothing once the bell sounds.
The result might just be glaringly obvious once the fight starts, assuming one fighter has transitioned from celebrity to fighter; the man that thinks will win, the man that can control his emotions will have the definite edge. Also, six-rounds for two novices in a 50-50 fight is rare anywhere in the boxing landscape and there is a reason for that - novices need to develop their skills slowly in easy fights, especially their defensive skills. KSI might just be the smarter on the night.
In a world title fight on the undercard, Billy Joe Saunders, currently the unbeaten WBO super-middleweight champion, defends his title against Argentina’s Marcello Esteban Coceres. There is a lot of mock and some genuine outrage at the position of Saunders in a supporting role to the two YouTubers and I can see the potential problem. Saunders views it as a chance to shine and steal the thunder from the YouTubers and the bookies agree, installing him this week at 1/100 to win. Saunders is certainly the better fighter, but it is unlikely that he will be in the better fight on the night. Saunders on points, just like his five previous world title fights, looks the only result.