Has influencer boxing got the professionals ‘on the ropes’?

Boxing Wednesday October 11, 2023 By: Duncan Hughes

On the 28th October, Tyson Fury and Francis Ngannou will take to the ring as the ‘Gypsy King’ will look for yet another win in his undefeated career.

Fury is the favourite to beat Ngannou as the WBC heavyweight champion while Ngannou is making the switch from MMA to take on one of boxing’s greats. It will be Fury’s first fight since December 2022 which is a considerable gap (however not unheard of in boxing); is the reason for this to make way for less competitive boxing?

Two weeks before Fury squares up to Ngannou in Saudi Arabia, another boxing fight will be taking place. A boxing fight with arguably less skill, less meaning but perhaps more viewers.

Tyson’s half-brother, Tommy Fury, most famously known for his stint on ITV’s Love Island, will take on YouTube star KSI at Manchester Arena with fans of both celebrities getting very excited for the prospect. With less professional fights and the mainstream media also bringing a lot of attention to these influencer fights, are we seeing a change of direction for boxing as we know it?

Influencer boxing has grown rapidly in the last 3-4 years as it has attracted more and more fans. KSI, or his real name Olajide Olatunji, has been at the forefront of many of the famous influencer fights and can be argued to be the pioneer of this craze when he fought fellow YouTuber Joe Weller back in 2018.

A few months later, KSI took on American YouTuber Logan Paul in a fight that was described as the ‘biggest event in internet history’ and pulled in an estimated £150 million with two million people paying to watch it. Will we see a similar outcome this weekend?

Tommy Fury has not been outside of the amateur boxing limelight either. Back in February of this year he took on brother of Logan Paul, Jake Paul, in a fight that attracted 800,000 PPV buys. Compare this to Tyson’s last fight against Derek Chisora where 500,000 PPV were sold.

Boxing Hospitality

So are these boxing matches attracting new audiences to the sport who want to watch their favourite influencers, or is professional boxing, specifically heavyweight in this case, in a slow demise?

It can be argued that a lot of heavyweight boxing has made way for the influencer boxing. According to Boxing Social, Mike Tyson criticised many heavyweight boxers for not wanting to fight each other in reference to the lack of recent fights exclaiming ‘they just need to fight’.

With that said, there are still plans of a Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk fight with the date yet to be confirmed as well as Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder rumours. So is it actually fizzling out or are there just less fights due to the increased athletic demands and the difficulty in getting fit for events?

It is with no doubt that the popularity in influencer boxing has risen in recent years, but is it necessarily a bad thing? Well it could even attract a wider range of audience to tune into professional boxing. With new fights being announced regularly such as Fury vs Osyk, there are still plenty of professional heavyweight battles that will keep the die-hard boxing fans satisfied.

Want to watch Fury vs Osyk live? Check out Engage Hospitality for the best seats in the house.

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