Mike Tyson is crediting YouTube stars like brothers Jake and Logan Paul and KSI for contributing to the ongoing revival efforts of boxing so that it can regain its position back into the mainstream fold among a winder fan base. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for Triller)
“My ego says so many things, but my reality is (YouTube stars) help boxing so much. Boxing owes YouTuber boxers some kind of respect,” said Tyson. “They should give them some belts. These guys make boxing alive. Boxing was pretty much a dying sport. UFC was kicking our butt. Now we have these YouTube boxers ... boxing is going back (up). Thanks to the YouTube boxers.”
Jake Paul devastatingly knocked out three-time NBA Slam Dunk champion Nate Robinson in the second round while fighting as the co-feature to the Tyson versus Roy Jones Jr. exhibition.
The 23-year-old Paul was also credited for pulling in his own unique Gen Z target audience and following into the show.
Boxing is still considered to be “your grandfather’s favorite sport.” Diversifying the audience now will be critical for the sport’s future growth in its ongoing battle with MMA and UFC for market share, a sentiment Tyson and many other key principles in the sport consistently share.
Tyson has had an increased presence in MMA in recent years, further helping the combat sport grow through his name. Tyson signed a deal last year with the Professional Fighters League for an ESPN original content series. He hosted a Dominance MMA media day for manager Ali Abdelaziz at his El Segundo, Calif.-based Tyson Ranch, and he’s even brought on a pack of UFC fighters as guests on his podcast Hotboxin’.
Tyson drew the attention of many people around the world during his exhibition, with one of them being UFC president Dana White.
“I didn’t want to say anything negative because I love Tyson and he’s a good friend of mine,” said White. “I was nervous. He’s (54) years old. Time is undefeated. Time takes us all down and one of the things I was worried for Mike is that he has this incredible aura still, and (54) years old – fighting is a young man’s game. All that being said, he looked (expletive) awesome … I hope they both made a (expletive) zillion dollars, and it exceeded my expectations.”
“He’s a grown-ass man and he’s going to do what he wants anyway, but good for him. It was actually a good fight. It was an entertaining fight to watch and I thought he looked really good. I’m happy for him.”
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist, writer and broadcast reporter. He’s also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and MMA Journalists Association. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan, via email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at]gmail.com or on www.ManoukAkopyan.com