Mike Tyson Says Boxing Owes Jake Paul As ‘UFC Was Kicking Our Butts’
Mike Tyson has said boxing owes a debt of thanks to YouTubers such as Jake Paul for helping the sport stay relevant after the rise of UFC.
The two shared a bill on Saturday night, as Tyson drew (in the eyes of the guest judges) with Roy Jones Jr, while Paul brutally knocked out former NBA player Nate Robinson.
You might expect the 23-year-old to be more grateful to be on the same bill as Iron Mike, but it was 54-year-old heavyweight Tyson that was keen to thank the likes of Jake and Logan Paul for firing the imagination of young fight fans. Although, Tyson did admit he hadn't heard of Jake until recently.
"I didn't know he existed until my sons wanted to fight him one day," said Tyson post-fight. "I said: 'Who are you going to fight? This guy? Come on' - and he was a big star.
"Everybody knows who he is, and I'm so happy that he joined on the bandwagon with me and Roy."
Some old-school boxing fans find the presence of celebrity boxers an insult to the sport and the professionals dedicated to perfecting it. But Tyson is clearly not among that number.
"Listen, my ego says so many things, but my reality is they help boxing so much," Tyson explained. "Boxing owes these guys. They owe these YouTube boxers some kind of respect. They should give them some belts because these guys make boxing alive.
"Boxing was pretty much a dying sport. UFC was kicking our butts, and now we got these YouTube boxers boxing with 25 million views. Boxing's back. Thanks to the YouTube boxers."
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There is a logic to Tyson's words. The fights of the Paul brothers and others have undoubtedly opened up boxing to an audience who might never have watched much of it before.
The 2019 Logan Paul vs KSI YouTube pay-per-view reportedly drew over 2.25 million viewers. It also generated a $3.5 million live gate in the USA.
Now there's even talk that Logan Paul could face Floyd Mayweather, despite boasting an 0-1 pro boxing record after his points defeat to KSI.
However hardcore boxing fans could point out that with Canelo Alvarez earning $35 million for his last fight and Anthony Joshua regularly selling out a 90,000 capacity Wembley Stadium (back when live crowds of that size were allowed) boxing is actually in pretty good shape. With or without YouTube celebrity influence.
The rise in popularity of mixed martial arts - spearheaded by the UFC - has undoubtedly been the combat sports story of the last decade. But some would question whether boxing and MMA are always in direct competition or whether they can have a mutually beneficial relationship.
Clearly Mike's mind is made up, however.
"I believe the more anyone boxes the bigger it is for the sport," Tyson concluded. "'Cause boxing took a couple of beatings since the UFC's been around."
All imagery: PA Images
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