ATLANTA, GA – This weekend YouTuber Jake Paul meets former MMA champion Ben Askren in a boxing match. The strange ongoing relationship between stars of the video platform playing at combat sports continues to draw mixed opinions from fight fans. Some see the involvement of the streaming star as a boon for boxing, drawing new eyes to one of the oldest sports in human history. But a great many, including pound for pound best boxer in the world Canelo Alvarez, feel it’s disrespectful to real champions.
After another one-sided thrashing Canelo was giving a post fight interview, during which he ordered two people wearing Jake Paul T-shirts out of the ring. Sending them on their way with a “fuckers” under his breath in Spanish. Canelo feels Jake Paul who has made millions off fights with Fellow YouTuber KSI, and recently knocked out former NBA player Nate Robinson, as nothing more than a sideshow gimmick.
But considering Paul’s opponent is a former Bellator champion in Ben Askren, it becomes a bit more difficult to ignore the work Paul has put in. If Jake can win, the traveling YouTube boxing circus gets even bigger. So I propose a simple solution to all of this. And I don’t say this without an understanding of exactly how insane it might sound. Canelo should fight all of YouTube. Any top YouTuber who feels they belong in a boxing ring, should be willing and able to get in with a spiteful red headed Mexican with a bone to pick.
Get six of the top YouTube boxers, have them each go two full rounds with Canelo, one after another. Most YouTubers would be physically bigger than Canelo who is just 5’8” and came in underweight for a 175lb clash with Sergei Kovalev. With Jake Paul weighing in at 190lbs, plus the shark tank nature of rotating in fresh opponents should weigh the tables beautifully against the Mexican champion in the long run. Just, god help whoever goes first.
There is actual historical precedent for this. After losing the Rumble in the Jungle to Muhammad Ali a dejected George Foreman did this very thing. Taking on five straight heavyweights one after the other in one of the more insane and enjoyable things I’ve ever seen as a boxing fan.
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The why is simple. Money. The sheer numbers a Canelo vs YouTube event could dwarf the sideshow Mayweather vs Mcgregor fight of a couple summers ago. That circus sold about 4.3 million pay per views. Now what a Canelo vs YouTube event might lack in the legitimacy of a true UFC champion in McGregor, you make up for it with the sheer mad outrage of the thing. If curiosity is what drive YouTubers to step between the ropes, then such an event would check that box easily.
If legitimacy is what the YouTubers are seeking, getting in the ring with a vengeful champion intent on teaching a lesson is what a boxer would do. What truly committed boxer would turn down the opportunity to spar with the best in the world right now? Only somebody with common sense and something better to do. Which tends to be the great filter for professional fighters. To be truly great at fighting you have to have a healthy interest in seeing just how bad it can get. Taking beatings is implicit in giving them at that level.
So If, and that is a big if, despite Ben Askren’s notably terrible striking, Jake Paul can win tomorrow night, do we start to take him seriously? No. But he will have outfought an actual fighter, which is a milestone down that path. Win or lose it’s sure to draw the ire of the hardcore boxing people and the eyes of countless fans of boxing MMA and YouTube nonsense. It’s also sure to draw the ire of the ginger genius from Guadalajara.
The only way Canelo and boxing as a whole will truly accept the YouTube boxing invasion is by meeting it head on. Respect is only earned one way in the fight game. As it should be. As it has been for most of human history. The only way Canelo and the hardcore fans will ever accept the YouTubers is when half a dozen of them have the bravery to be crumpled at Canelo’s feet.
Or so at least a hardcore fan with business sense and questionable morality can dream. Canelo vs half a dozen YouTubers wouldn’t remotely be the strangest thing that’s happened this week, much less this year. It’s 2021, nothing makes sense anyway, let chase this YouTube boxing rabbit hole as deep as it can go.