POP CULTURESPORTSPaul Brothers Could be just What Gets Gen Z into Boxing — for Better or for Worse

No matter what people thought of the Floyd Mayweather and Logan Paul exhibition last week, a lot of people couldn’t help but be interested in the “fight.” Mayweather, one of the greatest boxers of all time, stepped in the ring with a YouTuber. Love it or hate it, millions are going to tune in. Millions did. Paul and his brother Jake have amassed a huge following across Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and TikTok. Logan has over...
Aaron Tolentino6 months ago1897 min
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No matter what people thought of the Floyd Mayweather and Logan Paul exhibition last week, a lot of people couldn’t help but be interested in the “fight.”

Mayweather, one of the greatest boxers of all time, stepped in the ring with a YouTuber.

Love it or hate it, millions are going to tune in.

Millions did.

Paul and his brother Jake have amassed a huge following across Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and TikTok. Logan has over 60 million followers combined while Jake has about 55 million.

The two have tremendous reach globally, including my 15-year-old cousin.

I was a little surprised when he asked me if I wanted to come over and watch the pay-per-view of Mayweather versus Paul. A bunch of my other younger cousins would be there too.

I thought to myself “where was this energy a month ago when I put the Canelo Alvarez fight on for the super middleweight championship?”

Once the fighters made their ring walks and Migos started performing, I was pleasantly shocked how my cousins, especially the younger ones, had their eyes on the television screen.

Teens aren’t usually gathering amongst each other to watch boxing. It’s only in this generation of social media where a YouTuber is given the opportunity to get in the ring with a legend.

Mayweather versus Paul was a huge success for an 8-round exhibition with no official winner. According to The Athletic’s Mike Coppinger, over 1 million people bought the Showtime PPV for $49.99. 

For context, last year’s heavyweight championship between Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury drew just over 800,000 buys.

Boxing is in dire need of a bigger audience, and the Paul brothers could be what brings a new and young generation of fans.

Jake’s last fight in April against former UFC fighter Ben Askren reportedly drew over 1 million PPV buys. With the success of Jake bringing an audience to his fights, he landed a contract to fight on Showtime. 

Jake is set to fight former UFC champion Tyron Woodley in August. Expect the social media star to heavily promote the event throughout the next couple months to his millions of followers.

That fight will have millions of people tuning in. 

Like in Logan’s exhibition with Mayweather, it is likely Showtime tries to put forth its best possible undercard featuring up-and-coming title contenders. If they put up an impressive showing, it’s possible casual fans become more interested in the sport outside of novelty fighters like Jake.

Another strategy used in Jake’s fights is booking live musical acts before the show. His last fight had Justin Bieber, Doja Cat, Diplo, Snoop Dogg, E-40 and others perform, which is another way to get young fans to tune in.

The truth is boxing has become a niche sport. It is not as mainstream as it once was back in the 1980s during the Mike Tyson era. 

The NBA is immensely popular with the Gen Z generation. The game is fast-paced and easy to follow — built on the backs of superstars who carry the popularity of the sport. 

Boxing is dire need of a mainstream crossover star that will attract millions back into the sport like it did decades ago. The days of Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao carrying the sport are over. Not saying the Paul brothers are going to be that, but they can be what brings in a new set of eyes to the sport. The two are drawing worldwide attention to the sport that could benefit it in the long run.

We’ll see if it does.

Aaron Tolentino

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