by Dave Argento ’21 A&E Staff
If you blinked, you probably missed it. The highly anticipated boxing match between YouTuber Jake Paul and retired mixed martial artist Ben Askren was quite the spectacle to behold, but not because of the fighting. With over three and a half hours of buildup consisting of live music, undercard boxing, and even slap fighting hosted by Ric Flair, many who dished out their money for the pay-per-view event were questioning what circus act they were really paying for. To top off a night of sub-par production value and a bewildering array of celebrity appearances, the main card match lasted a disappointing 1:59 with Paul winning in the first round via technical knockout.
If someone says the names Justin Bieber, the D’Amelio sisters, Snoop Dogg, and Pete Davidson, surely boxing is not the first cultural event that comes to mind. Although YouTube boxing has come a long way since the KSI vs. Joe Weller fight back in February 2018, the display this Saturday left more people scratching their heads than being satisfied with how they spent their weekend night. Andrew Richardson of MMAMania writes, “Nothing made any sense. There was no string that tied it all together. Someone at Triller [a TikTok rival social media app] has a great deal of connections to a ton of stars, but they have no idea what to do with all these names and talents.”
It seemed that event host comedian Pete Davidson had some fun at least, earning his paycheck while ridiculing the production with comments such as, “You can tell how professional this event is by them having me here,” and, “Today is a really wild day for boxing because it just shows how low it has truly sunk.” The first two hours of the event had six minutes of boxing filled in with incredibly raunchy hip hop performances that would make most parents change the channel before some difficult conversations with their children arose. The lack of audience members present while the likes of Ice Cube, Doja Cat, and Justin Bieber performed made the mini concerts awkward to watch, especially because most viewers only tuned in to see Jake Paul and Ben Askren punch each other.
As all of the hype surrounding the knockout clears, what is next for Paul’s boxing career and celebrity boxing as a whole? Paul’s original desired opponent was mixed martial artist Dillon Danis, who declined the challenge; however, following Saturday’s result, Danis posted a picture to Instagram with the caption, “It’s on 100% send At the 1:59 mark in Round 1, the referee deemed Askren unable to continue, awarding Paul a victory via first-round TKO. me the contract let’s do this…” Only time will tell whether the two will face off, but Jake Paul’s win has clearly sent waves through the MMA and boxing communities as many will likely be eager to take the opportunity to hand him his first loss in the ring.
It has become apparent that the media buzz and money surrounding YouTube boxing has caught the attention of the mainstream considering the number of high profile names jumping at the bit to grab their piece of the pie from Triller Fight Club. Although Askren lost the fight, the likely millions of dollars he earned in his two minutes in the ring left viewers asking themselves if they were the only ones that truly lost on Saturday night.