After the fight: Floyd Mayweather vs. Logan Paul didn’t hurt boxing

Public opinion on the Floyd Mayweather vs. Logan Paul event is highly negative in the aftermath, but it didn’t do anything to hurt the sport of boxing. 

There’s no doubt that Floyd Mayweather vs. Logan Paul didn’t live up to the hype. Few punches were landed, and Mayweather didn’t knock out the YouTuber as many expected, but the social media chorus claiming that the fight hurt the sport of boxing is full of hyperbole and nothing else.

Mayweather drew a lot of flack after his post-fight comments characterizing the fight as a “legalized bank robbery,” but why? He said all fight week that this fight was easy money for him, and it was.

Mayweather vs. Paul was billed as an exhibition, but somehow people misinterpreted the meaning of the word exhibition. Just because Mayweather and Paul made a boatload of money doesn’t transform the meaning of the word exhibition.

An exhibition bout doesn’t mean that participants aren’t compensated. In the sphere of athletics, an exhibition means that competitors are exhibiting their skills in a specialized forum outside of the realm of standard competition. A win or loss isn’t held against a combatant’s official record.

Boxing exhibitions are more of a rarity today than they were compared to the first half of the 20th century. It used to be that the primary way retired boxers accrued income was through exhibition bouts. Sugar Ray Robinson traveled the U.S. in retirement, engaging in exhibition bouts against amateurs and low-level professional fighters. No one criticized him for his many exhibition matches. Jack Dempsey and Joe Louis also fought in numerous exhibition bouts.

Exhibitions are starting to come back in vogue. Mike Tyson vs. Roy Jones Jr. was met with excitement, nostalgia, and praise because the 50-something-year-olds exceeded expectations in the ring. They were paid handsomely, but nobody confused their contest with a professional bout.

Yes, Tyson and Jones were boxing greats, as was Mayweather during his professional career. Paul’s inclusion insulted boxing’s hardcore fans, but they had the option not to watch or pay for Mayweather vs. Paul.

Floyd Mayweather vs. Logan Paul received a lot of attention but judge it for what it was, an exhibition

There wasn’t an uproar when Shaquille O’Neal fought Oscar De La Hoya or Shane Mosley, so why is Mayweather vs. Paul branded as the cheapening of boxing?

I have the sneaking suspicion it’s because Paul has the label of ‘YouTuber.’ Many equate that word to something vile or illegitimate. Like it or not, Logan and his brother Jake are celebrities whose fame exceeds the typical construct of celebrity.

In the 21st century, social media fame is fame. Influencers have a massive following which they’re monetizing in ingenious ways. Boxing is the latest way they’re making bank, and the boxing industry is capitalizing on their following. Some don’t like this trend, but if it’s an exhibition, who is it hurting?

Yes, the Paul brothers have fought professionally, but Jake has flashed some boxing talent. He can hold his own in the ring against a certain level of competition. He’s increasing that level as he goes like most novice boxers do as they climb the ranks. He’s not doing it the traditional way, but these are new times, and things change.  Some unnecessarily fear change. The Paul brothers aren’t challenging for world titles. They’re making money in odd matchups that people are paying to see.

People paid to see Mayweather vs. Paul, and they’re disappointed with the final product. That’s life. There’s no guarantee that a fight will live up to the price tag placed on it. Mayweather vs. Pacquiao and a score of other fights that sparkled on paper but underwhelmed should have taught us that.

Mayweather vs. Paul will not have a lasting impact on the sport of boxing. The public has a short memory. People will buy Canelo Alvarez vs. Caleb Plant and Tyson Fury vs. Deontay Wilder because those are exciting fights on paper. Hopefully, they will equal their promise, but there’s no telling if their result will be gratifying.

Fans have every right to be disappointed with their purchase of Mayweather vs. Paul. It wasn’t pleasing to the eye, and the streaming service was inconsistent at best, but that’s not boxing’s fault, and it will not hurt the sport.

Professional boxing has existed for over a century, and the Paul brothers and other social media stars can’t hurt it. Boxing is far from perfect and has other more pressing problems that should be addressed. If you’re a fan, continue to support it and its combatants. Several young talents have the skills to be stars. They need the platform and exposure to catapult their fame. Maybe they can look to influencers for help in that department. Promoters and broadcasters already are.