Sport Editor Alex Alton looks at the Weller vs KSI boxing match and the relationship that Youtube has with sport
Joe Weller vs KSI. In a boxing ring. Although to many novices of the YouTube scene this may sound like contrived teenage nonsense (which it arguably is), the effect of this boxing match between two boxing amateurs should not be underestimated.
Why the Beef?
The “beef” between the two YouTube stars happened a very long time ago, with Joe Weller fighting fellow YouTuber and childhood friend Theo Baker. KSI, which is short for “Knowledge Strength Integrity”, otherwise known to everyone offline as Olajide Olatunji, commented on Joe Weller’s Instagram post promoting the fight, saying “let me fight the winner”. Joe won convincingly, and this is where the drama starts.
Shortly after this, KSI became embroiled in a “diss track war” with his fellow members of the YouTube group The Sidemen. Seeing that this was simply contrived nonsense designed to manipulate the YouTube algorithm, Joe Weller took to his channel to begin slating KSI for getting involved in something which arguably brings the class of YouTube down. From this, the two began a volatile relationship, with a whole host of tweets, Instagram posts and Twitter DMs confirming that the two, who had formerly been on holiday together, did now not like each other.
However, the veritable intensity of this boxing match was to increase when the two had a press conference to promote the fight in September. Both KSI and Joe Weller, with their 18 million and 5 million subscribers respectively, had massive crowds following their every move at the event. During the event, they both had separate Q&A sessions with fans. In the process of one of KSI’s sessions, Joe Weller interrupted KSI, bursting on stage and causing a ruckus. This then built up to the main event of the day, the press conference for the fight. Because of earlier aggravations, both “fighters” were fired up and ready to trash talk the other.
Ten minutes of the two going at each other ensued, with KSI playing the aggressive, “McGregor” role of trying to antagonise Weller by calling out a previous leg injury amongst other things. Then it came to a face off between the two, with 23 stone Geordie YouTuber stood between the two making sure there were no premature punches thrown.
During the face off, KSI called out on Joe Weller on admittance that he takes medication for depression. This intensified the press conference to new levels, with Joe Weller finishing his monologue criticising KSI for “taking the piss out of depression”, consequently pushing KSI to the side of the stage. KSI frantically responded by trying to come back at Weller. He was unable to push past security, however.
The Build Up
Following the press conference, it was clear that regardless of their talent for boxing, both fighters would be going in to that ring wanting to hurt each other. They were given just under 5 months to prepare for the fight itself, with KSI arguably needing to do more to shift weight, get fit and learn how to box properly.
Weller also had to train significantly, given the weight difference between the pair, along with a knee injury that had stopped him from running in preparation, a key focus for professional boxers in their training pre-fight.
The night before the fight, both fighters stepped up for another press conference and the mightily anticipated weigh in. Unsurprisingly, Joe Weller weighed in at 4kg less than KSI, who had reportedly lost around 7kg to make the weight at 83kg. Although 4kg difference in weight may sound minimal to some, it can be a difference between two weight classes in professional boxing, so perhaps could have had a massive effect on the eventual result.
It has to be noted that KSI should be given immense credit for whipping himself into incredible shape before the fight. In the previous press conference, the muscular differences between the two were massive, with Weller appearing to be in prime physical fitness. However when the two stripped down to shorts, KSI appeared to be showing off impressive abdominals, with Weller the same.
All in all, given the absence of the same 10/10 trash talking that dominated the earlier press conference, both YouTubers were ready to step into the ring and demonstrate their capabilities.
The Big Fight
Although this article only focuses on the main event, there was a undercard to the fight. This included a fight between two YouTubers who explore abandoned buildings, Uosof Ahmadi and Exploring with Josh.
Then came perhaps the weirdest fight of all time. Two twins, Jake and Liam from the duo TWiiNSANE faced off in the ring, concluding in a very drab affair between two guys who evidently could not box.
After this were two fights, one of which included a fight between one 6ft 5 man, JMX, and his opponent, 5ft 10 Mike Fox. Following his loss at the hands of a giant, Fox proposed to his girlfriend, who promptly said yes.
To this point, the evening of the fight had lacked hype, given the lack of animosity between most of the fights so far. This would all change at around 6pm when KSI and Joe Weller eventually stepped in to the ring. The pair had previously agreed to six three minute rounds, with head guards on. Both came out, looking prepared and ready to give the crowd a good fight. Both fighters, were ready, briefed by the referee, and it was off.
Weller failed to throw a punch in the first 30 seconds of the fight, perhaps displaying a tactic, lack of boxing ability, nervousness, or a mix of all three. Eventually, he did land a punch on KSI, albeit one which did nothing to affect the power of the Watford born FIFA YouTuber. By the end of round 1, it was evident that if the fight was to go to a decision, KSI would be the winner, given the amount of punches he managed to land in the first three minutes.
The second round began in the same way, with KSI launching an all out assault of constant jabs on Weller, keeping anything Weller that had at bay. KSI was consistently varying his punches, leading to him taking down Weller shortly before the end of the second round. Weller was hanging in there, knowing that he needed to do knock out KSI to stand any chance of winning the fight.
However, the third round displayed Weller’s state, with the Brighton-based man failing to land a punch on KSI. Shortly after, the referee called the fight, giving KSI the win on a technical knockout. Although you’d be hard pushed to find many who really wanted KSI to win the fight, given his sheer confidence in an interview, credit where credit is due. He demonstrated that he had real boxing ability, something which he may be able to utilise in future.
After the fight, he was asked if there was anyone he wanted to call out. He spoke up, saying that if either of the Paul brothers (Logan and Jake) wanted to fight then he’d be happy to do so.
Future for YouTube boxing?
Given the fact that this was the biggest white collar boxing event of all time, we should debate whether YouTube fights may hold a place in the future of boxing. Collectively, Weller and KSI possess 24 million subscribers, a figure which is bigger than most boxers out there. Also, at the time of writing the fight stream has had 21 million views, with around 3 million actually watching live, making it the most popular live event ever hosted on YouTube. From this, it can definitely be said that fights of this kind may become incredibly profitable for promoters in future, if they can stomach the fact that most of the people stepping in the ring will have very basic boxing ability.
Although promoters would be unlikely to charge the same kind of figures demanded for Pay-per-view fights (usually in the £15-£20 region), they would definitely be able to make money by charging smaller amounts. All in all then, it must be said that this fight, whilst lacking in aptitude for boxing may have had a massive effect on the future of YouTube it’s relationship with sport.