If you don't know the names and faces Logan Paul and KSI, the massive publicity push in the past few months — between the press conference face-offs, videos of intensive training sessions, and movie-level quality hype trailers — could trick you into thinking there's about to be a high-level championship bout happening this weekend.
But KSI and Logan Paul are celebrities more than they are boxers, and the people paying to watch them fight are likely not expecting a top-notch battle of athletic prowess. Instead, the two fighters bring with them their public histories of controversy, loyal fanbases, and a combined 40 million YouTube subscribers.
The two YouTubers are facing off Saturday in a head-to-head boxing match that acts as a sequel to their first fight back in August 2018, which ended in a draw. The first match was a success in drawing crowds: 18,000 fans watched the fight on-site in an arena in the United Kingdom, and at least 800,000 people paid to livestream the event online. That boxing match generated $11 million in revenue, according to estimates from Business Insider.
However, KSI vs. Logan Paul 2 is already gearing up to be even bigger, if you listen to the hype. Both YouTubers have further fueled the flames: In a recent interview with Business Insider, Paul said his goal for the upcoming fight is to “f— KSI up.” In response, KSI seemed unperturbed, and said he welcomes the challenge.
“Logan [Paul] is just going to say whatever he wants to,” KSI told Business Insider. “He knows this is going to be his final hurrah.”
This war of words isn't a new strategy for the two YouTubers, who have made their livings as controversial figures while maintaining droves of fans and celebrity status. KSI has a history of making sexist remarks, and hurled insults at Paul's girlfriend and family ahead of their first boxing match. Paul, on the other hand, was behind the recording of a body in Japan's “suicide forest,” and made “distasteful and insensitive” comments regarding abortion and KSI's sex life in a press conference last month.
But despite the sordid history, both YouTubers have furthered the sentiment that this time around, the boxing bout is a professional match. A deal for promoting and broadcasting the upcoming fight was reportedly in the works for 10 months, and enlists a notable boxing promoter, Matchroom Boxing. Everything about the event oozes the appearance of “professional,” from the fighters not wearing headgear — because they're now considered state-licensed pro boxers — to the company that's showing the fight: DAZN, a streaming service for pro sports.
Nevertheless, those in the pro boxing business aren't buying that the fight belongs in the big leagues. One boxing expert said on Twitter that both KSI and Paul “would lose to 16-year-old amateur boxers.”
Yet both KSI and Paul have separately expressed their interest to Business Insider in continuing their pursuits into pro boxing after their face-off on Saturday.
Last year's match between KSI and Paul was streamed on YouTube, the very platform where both personalities have found success. But the proliferation of illegal streams on Twitch and other social platforms attracted an estimated 1.2 million viewers who were able to watch the match for free, costing millions of dollars in revenue. Moving the stream to DAZN is intended to avoid that “cost and piracy risk,” KSI's manager previously told Business Insider.
A DAZN spokesperson told Business Insider that the service has taken additional measures leading up to this weekend's fight to prevent the same abundance of pirated streams.
“We've ramped up anti-piracy measures and will leverage key social media partnerships along with the latest technologies to combat any issues,” DAZN said in a statement to Business Insider.
Saturday's boxing match will be held in Los Angeles' Staples Center, an arena with the capacity to hold up to 21,000 people. Match promoter Eddie Hearn told TMZ he expects each fighter could earn seven figures from the match, which shows just how much the hype is expected to translate to actual revenue.
And with Justin Bieber indicating on Instagram that he'll be tuning into the match, the hype may not have reached its fever pitch yet.