What does it say about the sport of boxing, the current state of pop culture, or society in general that one of the most anticipated sporting events of the year is an epic mismatch of a spectacle featuring a semi-retired grandfather and a social media celebrity?
Welcome to 2021, folks, where all-time boxing great Floyd Mayweather Jr., and YouTuber Logan Paul – two of the most polarizing figures in their respective fields – are set to make global headlines and punch their way to a massive payday.
Sunday’s anticipated main event at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla., is officially an eight-round exhibition match with no judges, yet knockouts will be allowed. Each man will wear 10-ounce gloves after originally agreeing to use 12-ounce gloves without any headgear.
“I think I have to knock him out. Someone’s getting knocked out. Someone’s gonna quit,” Paul told assembled media at a press event in Florida on Thursday, sounding like many of Mayweather’s past opponents.
This fight won’t count towards Mayweather’s 50-0 professional record, nor should it, but at the end of the day it is a real fight. Hard punches will be exchanged and, in all likelihood, the 44-year-old former world champion is going to give the 26-year-old amateur a memorable walloping.
“It’s going to be fun. It’s what I do. There’s a difference between being a YouTube fighter and an elite fighter,” Mayweather said. “I’m a fighter and I don’t worry about anything. I’ve been a professional for 25 years and I’ve fought the best and seen every style and I always came out on top.”
Mayweather became boxing’s top box office draw during his illustrious pro career that includes wins over fellow greats Canelo Alvarez, Manny Pacquiao, Juan Manuel Márquez, Shane Mosley, Oscar De La Hoya, Miguel Cotto and many others.
The last professional boxer Mayweather faced was Andre Berto in 2015 before retiring, but that hasn’t stopped him from cashing cheques and living up to his “Money” moniker.
Mayweather beat UFC superstar Conor McGregor by technical knockout in 2017 en route to a nine-figure payday. He then embarrassed 20-year-old undefeated Japanese kickboxing star Tenshin Nasukawa in less than three minutes on New Year’s Eve 2018 at the Saitama Super Arena.
The former pound-for-pound king has described his matchup with Paul as being essentially a legalized robbery.
“The [pro boxing career] was the mashed potatoes. I guess these guys now are the gravy,” Mayweather told Showtime Sports. “I retired from boxing, but I didn’t retire from entertainment or from making money.”
If one exhibition fight wasn’t enough for you, don’t worry, former Pro Bowl NFL wide receiver Chad Ochocinco will be fighting Bare Knuckle FC veteran Brian Maxwell to open the PPV portion of the card. Yep, seriously.
Former WBC super-middleweight and WBA light-heavyweight titleholder Badou Jack is also competing on the card, as is former unified light-middleweight champion Jarrett Hurd.
Promoting this event has been a breeze for all parties involved.
In fact, fellow YouTube celebrity and aspiring boxer, Jake Paul, did his older brother’s and Mayweather’s respective bank accounts a huge favour with a simple sprinkle of schoolyard immaturity coupled with two little words: “Gotcha hat!”
That viral moment undoubtedly took the hype to a new level. Mayweather is a showman but he’s not a good actor. He was legitimately furious as his fragile ego was put to the test.
Mayweather should in theory be able to defeat Paul in any way he chooses but now that there’s some legitimate heat between the two sides, will we see Logan punished for his brother’s actions?
Logan Paul has described himself as a “delusional optimist” and understands exactly why people feel his goal of trying to beat the greatest boxer of his era is outlandish.
“I’m glad he’s got confidence,” Mayweather said. “I’m glad he believes in himself. Last time I checked, all 50 fighters that I faced, they all said the same thing.”
Yes, the whole thing is silly, but you have to respect Paul’s self-awareness and cojones to do what he’s doing.
“I’m going to fight my heart out,” Paul said. “That’s the beautiful thing about this sport. In almost any other business, experience is going to trump everything else. But this is a fight, and anything can happen.”
Anything can happen. Absolutely.
However, if Mayweather decides to turn up the heat and teach Paul a lesson, well, to quote the great Canadian comedian and lifelong boxing fan Russell Peters: “Somebody’s gonna get hurt real bad.”