How YouTuber Logan Paul goaded Floyd Mayweather back into the ring

Floyd Mayweather likes getting paid more than being retired and Logan Paul likes attention more than…well, basically anything, it seems. 

That alone may be the best explanation for a head-scratcher of an exhibition boxing match set for June 6 on Showtime pay-per-view. 

Why else would a 44-year-old boxing legend, whose nickname is “Money,” have time for a YouTube sensation-turned-fighter? And why would a 26-year-old, who lost his only professional boxing match, want to risk a serious blow to the head from the fist of a Hall of Famer with a 50-0 record? 

“I don’t begrudge Mayweather or Logan Paul over money, but from the boxing community, there’s guys out there that are deserving of this attention and are deserving of more paychecks than they’re actually getting than these two guys,” said Joe Santoliquito, writer for Ring Magazine and president of the Boxing Writers Association of America. “This is basically a farce.”

Mayweather hasn’t fought since defeating MMA star Conor McGregor (and earning a reported $300 million in the process) in 2017, while Paul’s resume can fit on a Post-It note. This event isn’t as consequential in the boxing world as the super middleweight bout between Canelo Álvarez and Billy Joe Saunders in early May, which drew a record crowd of 73,126 at the Dallas Cowboys stadium. But it may get even more attention.

How did this all start?

As is the case with so many confrontations in this day and age, our story begins with a Twitter spat. 

Logan Paul fired the first shot in November 2019, calling out Mayweather when a sports betting site had odds on him fighting the champion boxer. 

Nearly a year to the date later, Mayweather seemed to accept. 

Since then, tempers have only flared. In early May, at a weigh-in at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida, where the match will take place, fists started flying early. 

Jake Paul, Logan’s younger brother who is also a YouTuber-turned-fighter and has a 3-0 record, took the hat off Mayweather’s head and walked away. He paid for that with a black eye he said came courtesy one of Mayweather’s bodyguards.

Who is Logan Paul?

Paul made his mark on the now-defunct, six-second video platform Vine, then on YouTube when Vine was no longer an option. He grew into a huge social media star and now has 23 million subscribers on YouTube, 19.3 million followers on Instagram, six million on Twitter, and his own clothing line. 

Most of Paul’s videos were obnoxious but usually harmless. That changed in 2017 when he went to Japan’s Aokigahara, known as “suicide forest,” and posted a video that included the body of someone who had taken his own life hanging from a tree. He carelessly posted the video with the title “We found a dead body in the Japanese Suicide Forest …” and it racked up more than 24 million views. 

Paul had made millions off YouTube’s ad platform and then found that no one wanted to get anywhere near him or the persona he created shortly after the video was published. The blowback was so great that he ended up taking that video down. The body spray he was planning to launch got axed. Acting roles he had performed were not debuted on time. He claimed he lost out on $5 million in YouTube ad revenue.

“I’m like, wow, I really (messed) up, to a degree that this may be the only thing people remember me by, and that is my worst nightmare,” Paul told the Hollywood Reporter in 2018.

As he searched for new, outrageous videos and ventures, Paul turned to the boxing ring. In 2018 he fought a British vlogging star, KSI, and the amateur event ended in a draw. In August of 2019 came the rematch, this time a professional bout at Staples Center in Los Angeles, and KSI came away with the split decision victory. 

Why would Mayweather fight?

According to reports, Mayweather has had career earnings of more than $1 billion. What he has in his bank account, however, is considerably less considering the lavish lifestyle he lives. He has fought off claims, most notably from rapper 50 Cent, that he’s actually broke.  

Whether he needs the funds or wants the funds, it’s clear what the big motivation is for the 44-year-old boxer to come out of retirement yet again. 

“It’s the money and he still wants to remain relevant,” Santoliquito said. “He did get his thunder taken away because he was supposed to be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame (in June) but now, because of COVID, that’s been pushed back a year. Right now he’s at a stage where, ‘Listen, right now I could still make money off my name.’”

He has done that before and could do it again. 

At the weigh-in, he suggested taking on both of the Paul brothers on the same night. 

“If Floyd was in the ring with both of those guys at the same time, he’d beat them both,” Santoliquito said. “I don’t care how old he is. He’s 44. I don’t care the shape he’s in. This guy is still…he could still beat most of the guys — I’m not saying all the guys — at his natural weight, at welterweight. That’s how good he still is. It also speaks to the shallow depth of boxing today.”

What does this mean for boxing?

The bottom line is that this event will make a ton of money and get a lot of attention…even if it doesn’t have the respect of the sport’s purists. Some may cringe and still tune in anyway on June 6 at 8 p.m. via Fanmio on Showtime. Others may not allow themselves to encourage such a spectacle by forking over the money.

“It’s going to be on a legitimate network and Showtime does a great job,” Santoliquito said. “They’re gonna get great sales off of this and I wish them the best. I don’t begrudge Showtime or Mayweather or Logan Paul for a buck, but I’m just not going to be buying it. I hate to say it, I simply don’t care. Why buy something that I know the result of already? Floyd’s gonna smoke this dude.”