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first punch will crack his spirit
second punch will crack his ego
third punch will crack his jaw
fight's over. kiss my girl. go home.
So Logan Paul could only hope!
The 26-year-old, best known for his online antics and controversies, trotted out that poetry on Aug. 14, 2018, less than two weeks before he was due to take on British rapper, gamer and fellow YouTube star KSI at Manchester Arena in the U.K., a bout promptly dubbed by promoters as the biggest amateur boxing match ever.
KSI (real name Olajide Olayinka Williams Olatunji) had one fight under his belt, a decision over YouTuber Joe Weller, directly after which he had set his sights on "Jake Paul, Logan Paul—any of the Pauls, I don't care!"
Indeed, from the ring, seconds after being declared the victor over Joe, he called upon either brother to come and get it.
Well, challenge accepted, after which much trash-talking ensued, to the delight of KSI and Logan's tens of millions of YouTube subscribers. Doubling the shenanigans, Jake took on KSI's younger brother, Deji Olatunji, in the chief undercard bout.
And in the course of it all, something surprising happened—at least it may sound surprising to those who mainly think of the Paul siblings as online rabble-rousers, sometimes funny but questionably talented and oft-thoughtless dudes who do things like go into a forest in Japan and film a dead body and post it to his YouTube channel (Logan on Dec. 31, 2017, after which he apologized) or call COVID-19 a hoax (Jake).
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What happened was, they seemed to take boxing really seriously.
"I didn't choose boxing, boxing chose me," Logan recently told Showtime, home of his pay-per-view June 6 exhibition match with boxing legend Floyd Mayweather Jr., who is 50-0, including his 2017 post-retirement defeat of UFC champ Conor McGregor. "Seriously, I got challenged to box. I answered that challenge and then kind of fell perfectly into the sport."
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Not that the sporting world took him all that seriously in the beginning, hand-to-hand combat having previously proved an efficient way for famous people to attract some eyeballs (or make some money). Celebrity Boxing, featuring the likes of Tonya Harding vs. Paula Jones and Danny Bonaduce vs. Donny Osmond, was a real, albeit short-lived, show in 2002, and MTV made mad fun of the concept with its graphically violent claymation series Celebrity Deathmatch.
That first fight with KSI drew a mix of attention from devoted Logan Paul believers, those who thought it would be fun to watch no matter what, celebs who know a scene when they see it, and others who weren't shy to admit they wanted to see Logan get punched in the face. And sure, probably some regular boxing fans, too.
Three years later, not all that much has changed.
"My name can definitely make people feel both things," he acknowledged in May on The Daily Show, referring to the love-him-or-hate-him reaction he tends to provoke. "But I think it's because I've given them reasons to feel both positive and negative things about me. Either way, it's my fault, and at the end of the day, I like the idea that I make people feel."