Boxing needs more of Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury and less of the Paul brothers, writes Mark Keohane.
CAPE TOWN – When boxing superstar Saul “Canelo” Alvarez fights, lovers of the sport tune in. When he speaks, those who govern professional boxing should also tune in.
Alvarez justifiably has been scathing of the ‘Showbiz Boxing Circus’ that is being sold as professional boxing involving the YouTube influencers Jake and Logan Paul.
Both brothers have in excess of 20 million followers and both brothers are promoting and selling themselves as professional boxers, despite having never fought a professional boxer.
Both brothers are maxing millions from pay per view fights as a global audience actually pays to watch them fight hand-picked opponents, who had previously never laced up a boxing glove.
The closest any opponent got to a glove was Jake Paul’s third fight, in which he knocked out 36-year-old former UFC champion Ben Askren, who clearly needed the cash desperately to take such a dive.
Askren was an embarrassment to himself, UFC, his supporters and combat fighting. He stood there in the first round, dropped his guard, took a right-handed blow and sunk to the canvas. This from a veteran cage fighter?
(Jake) Paul’s other two opponents were a YouTuber and a retired professional basketballer.
His older brother, Logan, lost his first fight to a fellow YouTuber and will now fight Floyd Mayweather in an exhibition fight.
Mayweather, who retired undefeated in 50 fights, is tarnishing a boxing legacy simply by chasing more money to be a part of the Paul brothers boxing circus.
The muppets who are paying for the right to see the Paul brothers cash in on their professional boxing fantasy may be fooled, but Alvarez isn’t.
He is furious with boxing authorities, warning that if either of the brothers ever fought a proper boxer, it could end in death to the brothers.
“They could be killed. This is not a soccer game, they could get killed,” Alvarez said in an interview with Graham Bensinger.
“Why do they give licences to people who have never in their life even thrown a punch? If there is a death, the commission will be responsible. Why? Because they issue the licence for the fight.”
Mayweather has never been one for the morality or integrity of his sport. He has always been about the money and his 50th win, to surpass the late Rocky Marciano’s unbeaten 49 fights, was against Conor McGregor, who had never had a professional fight.
Mayweather couldn’t lace Marciano’s boots, in terms of legacy or boxing appeal.
Mayweather is probably now where he belongs, in the showbiz circus. His last exhibition fight was against a young Japanese kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa. Mayweather knocked down Nasukawa three times in a fight that lasted only one round.
“It isn’t boxing,” bemoaned Alvarez.
“I truly believe that it is a lack of respect,” he said. “It is all based on money. For true fighters, I do believe it is a lack of respect.”
Renowned and celebrated boxing promoter Eddie Hearn, who is critical to the most anticipated heavyweight fight between Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury happening, wasn’t scathing of the Paul brothers, but insisted that they have shown there is a formula to capture boxing’s space.
“It isn’t boxing,” said Hearn. “It is showbiz boxing and entertainment, and clearly people want it because the numbers of pay-per-view show this. Boxing has to respond by staging the superfights, the megafights and the big fights, where the best fight the best, if boxing is to survive.”
Showbiz boxing can have the Paul brothers and the Paul brothers can have each other.
Boxing needs more of Joshua and Fury and less of the Paul brothers.