It’s almost time for one of the biggest boxing matches of the year.
When reading that sentence, you might assume the fight is between two big-name athletes — but it’s not. Instead, it’s between two YouTube stars.
Logan Paul, vlogger, will be squaring up against Olajide “KSI” Olatunji, a gamer, vlogger and rapper. Each has about 20 million subscribers on YouTube.
The match is expected to begin just after 11 p.m. ET at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. It’ll be streaming on DAZN — a subscription-based sports service.
Paul and KSI aren’t the only ones on the fight card, either. The preliminaries are scheduled to begin just after 6 p.m. ET, with career boxers fighting during the lead up to the main event between the celebrities.
Wait, who are these people?
Paul is a Vine star turned YouTube sensation. You may remember him from 2017, when he came under fire for posting a video showing a dead body in Japan’s “suicide forest” and making jokes about it. He commonly teams up with brother Jake to make videos.
KSI is another controversial YouTube figure. In 2015, women’s groups accused him of demeaning victims of sexual violence and spreading misogynistic views in his videos — and asked the platform to remove them.
But KSI and Paul have huge fan bases. With a combined 40 million subscribers on YouTube, their followers outnumber Canada’s entire population.
OK, and why are they fighting?
Critics say the match is merely a money-grab.
But fans of the bout are more upbeat. Followers of Paul and KSI are young, supporters say, and their fight will bring boxing to a whole new audience.
Johnny Nelson, former WBO cruiserweight champion, hosted a face-off between the two celebrities before their first fight (yes, these two have fought before).
He told CNN that at the time he didn’t really know KSI or Paul. But then he saw how many youngsters were in the crowd. “I had kids coming up to me in the street saying: ‘Oh my God, you met KSI! Oh my God, you met Logan!’” he said.
“It’s a way of introducing our world to this new world. And if it inspires 1% or 10% of the fans who have come from watching KSI or Logan, then our sport wins.”
Rewind. What happened in the first fight?
The first fight was held in Manchester, England, in 2018. Fans paid $10 to watch the fight on YouTube.
The match ended in a draw, but it was watched by a as many as 800,000 people, with 1.2 million more watching on pirated streams, according to numbers posted by MMA announcer Bruce Buffer.
Those numbers are in addition to the reported 21,000 who actually showed up at Manchester Arena. That’s a whole lot of people watching boxing who may not have paid attention before.