The Fury-Ball Fight: YouTube Boxing Meets Saudi Money

Sunday’s fight between Tommy Fury and Jack Paul in Diyarah, Saudi Arabia looks like it was lifted from boxing’s oldest playbook.

Fury has said Paul has no class or talent, and his father, John Fury, has boasted that his son has sent recent sparring partners to hospital. There is milk was invited Fury said he was “delusional” and that Fury didn’t know what was going on.

They trade verbal jabs over past defeats they meet in the ring. Each boxer is confident of wiping the mat with his opponent, and each man swears that the other’s insults are genuine. It’s a typical thing for boxing – exaggerated and manufactured insults that come out before any big fight to juice interest and pay-per-view sales.

But the boxing-as-routine obscures the fight’s larger stakes: its role as a window into growing Saudi influence in professional sports and the potential polling of the YouTube boxing event.

In an interview last week, Paul offered two reasons for fighting in Saudi Arabia.

“When I came here for WWE, the fan base was electric, man, they showed out. To me, I’m just an entertainer,” he says of the professional wrestling promotion. There was a practical reason, too: The fight had already been postponed twice, most recently with British-born Fury. Unable to obtain a visa to enter the United States.

“So, we had to do this fight overseas and it was really like a decision between Manchester or Saudi. It made a lot of sense to do it in Saudi.

The fight is the latest in a series of high-profile sporting and entertainment events staged in Saudi Arabia. WWE hosts two events in the country every year. Formula 1 now has an annual Saudi stoppage. Two of former heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua’s last four fights have been in the country. Saudi Arabia will conduct FIFA Club World Cup in December.

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The country’s sovereign wealth fund has made big investments in sports overseas, helping to buy Newcastle United, a soccer team in the English Premier League, and developing LIV Golf, a challenger for the PGA Tour.

Ostensibly, these investments are part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030 plan, which aims to boost Saudi Arabia’s economy beyond oil and into sectors such as entertainment and tourism.

How Saudi Arabia managed to do this is obvious: money. The Kingdom have committed to spending $2 billion on LIV and Newcastle have embarked on a transfer spree that has seen the team rocket towards the top of the Premier League. Saudi Arabia pays $60 million to host Formula 1. Paid $60 million To conduct one of Joshua’s battles and, according to ESPNTyson Fury, the older brother of Joshua and Tommy Fury, was willing to pay $150 million for a fight that never happened.

To critics, Saudi Arabia’s sports spending is not a genuine attempt to diversify its economy, but rather a means to underwrite the country’s human rights abuses, known as sportswashing.

The fight intersects with the third rail of boxing last year: the involvement of Daniel Kinahan, who is wanted by the US government and accused of being the head of an Irish organized-crime group.

Kinahan has extensive ties to Tyson Fury, who is represented by the company Kinahan founded, and the two were photographed together in Dubai last year. Kinahan assisted the broker The Fury-Joshua fight It will be held in Saudi Arabia.

When the fight actually starts, the biggest question will be whether Paul is a real boxer and whether Tommy Fury is challenging enough to decide it.

Paul, along with his brother Logan, rose to fame in the mid-2010s with their videos on social media, but in 2018 Paul made an unexpected foray into boxing.

“YouTube is like a weird, dark place, and I care more about views and attention and trying to make a good video every day,” Paul said of the transition. “It killed my creativity.”

Paul’s entry into boxing is seen by many as a stunt, but he has now won six fights. Granted, they were up against a motley crew of retired mixed martial artists, former NBA point guards and fellow YouTubers.

Fury is a somewhat legitimate professional boxer, although his life is similar to Paul’s – but in reverse. He first fought as a professional in 2018, taking time off to film the reality TV show “Love Island” before returning to the ring. Fury has an 8-0 record, and many of those fights were to bat his record — his first five opponents combined to win 12 fights and lose 174 — and all of them were against boxers.

Promoter Bob Arum called Fury a “new” professional, while Fury’s promoter Frank Warren said, “It’s not a lot of fights as a pro, but he’s had eight fights and he’s obviously experienced as an amateur.”

Paul’s appeal to his legion of young fans as a boxer is that the fights are real and that his calls to fight the world’s best boxers like Saúl “Canelo” Alvarez are not the ramblings of a social media star, but aspirations. A true sportsman. A loss to Fury – the 350th best ship in the world, According to BoxRec — can shatter that image and that of boxers-turned-YouTubers like Logan Paul and KSI.

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YouTube could be hurting or helping the boxing event, concludes Top Rank, an advertising agency and ESPN.

A number of high-profile boxing shows have been presented in recent years by TikTok competitor Triller, and Paul’s previous fights were done through his own promotion and Showtime Sports. But Top Rank, which promotes top fighters like Tyson Fury and Shakur Stevenson, is promoting the fight in the US, with ESPN streaming it.

“Jake Paul and Tommy Fury have fan bases that extend far beyond the boxing world,” said Top Rank president Todd Duboff, announcing his company’s participation and identifying the reason for its interest in promoting the fight.

Both Top Rank and ESPN will have the opportunity to look at the data to see if YouTube boxers can coexist with world champions and if Paul and Fury can convince a significant number of their followers to pay $50 to watch the two fight.

Chris Rim Contributed report.

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