LOS ANGELES — KSI edged out his archrival Logan Paul in what was a closely contested fight that was ultimately scored a split decision after six rounds. It was hard fought, if not well fought by the two combatants.
Perhaps there will be another chapter to this rivalry, but KSI ruled out a third bout in the immediate aftermath.
It wasn’t the worst night of boxing you’ll see, and to be even more blunt, how many fights and fighters can draw well over 10,000 in both the United States and the U.K.?
Here are a few thoughts on what we witnessed Saturday night at Staples Center.
Were you entertained?
OK, if you came in with low expectations and understood that you weren’t going to see Sugar Ray Leonard-Thomas Hearns or Marco Antonio Barrera-Erik Morales, yes, it was pretty entertaining — or at the very least amusing.
Sometimes, it just isn’t that serious.There was a pretty sizable crowd at Staples Center (the attendance announced at 12,137) and the fans were really into this fight. Both KSI and Paul had a good number of fans and they were loud and vocal throughout. Those who decided to pay, probably have no regrets on how they spent their Saturday night.
As for myself, I’ll admit the fight was pretty compelling because you saw both guys — who had a lot to risk in terms of reputation and their brands — putting it on the line. And as the last round was taking place, you sensed that the fight was on the line. Honestly, it is admirable that these novices were willing to go out there and compete, and do so this time around without headgear and 10-ounce gloves.
Did this fight help or hurt the boxing industry?
Some might not like this answer, but this did help the sport of boxing — yeah, I said it. Though it might not have created a huge new generation of fans who will stick around, on a weekend with a lot of other things going on in American sports — namely college football — this fight was a trending topic as it took place.
There are not that many events in boxing that can say that. Yeah, call this a circus or a freak show, but it certainly doesn’t signal the end of the business. Eddie Hearn, who promoted this event, said that the goal was to merge audiences and bring people to the sport who otherwise wouldn’t be interested in boxing.
Over 12,000 fans came out to see this spectacle, and millions more watched worldwide. And say what you will, but it was KSI-Paul that had more drama than the other “real” fights that took place Saturday.
Let’s face it, there’s a pretty low barrier of entry for this sport. The specter of this matchup in no way takes away from the recent run of memorable fights that have taken place this fall.
Looking at this pragmatically, is this matchup really more damaging than say, an old and haggard Muhammad Ali being trotted out against a young Larry Holmes? Or the countless other times the sport has seen shopworn veterans sent out to be battered into retirement?
The question really should be about how many new fans this event created, and just how strong of an imprint it left on a demographic that usually has no interest in “the sweet science”. The feeling here is that the followers of Logan Paul and KSI would probably be interested in seeing them thumb wrestle or play checkers. This was more about a personal rivalry, than actual prizefighting.
It’s not clear just how many new fans of boxing we’re created Saturday, but it seems as if the fans who specifically came to watch the main event, regardless of the result, were generally satisfied with what they witnessed.
The feeling is that most of the fans for KSI-Paul II were there for those two specifically, and they might never go to another fight card. But at the same time, this wasn’t the worst night boxing has ever had, by a long shot.
What do you think about referee Jack Reiss’ decision to give Paul a two-point deduction?
In a fight that came down to one point in a split decision, Reiss’ decision to penalize Paul was huge. Also, beyond the two points that Paul was docked, at that point KSI was really hurt and unsteady. All the physical momentum was with Paul at that stage. By calling it a foul, there was a break in the action and KSI was given time to reboot his system.
That said, hitting someone while draping your arm on their neck is illegal for a reason. It’s dangerous. And Reiss, by the letter of the law, made the right call.
Wouldn’t you know it, the hardest punch of this fight was nullified by a foul.
Should we see more of these types of fights? Did it overshadow the other boxing on the card?
This type of fight seems to be a trend. It wasn’t that long ago that Floyd Mayweather faced Conor McGregor, and if there’s money to be made, yes, we’ll see more of these hybrid matchups. The purists will blanch at the notion, but again, boxing is a business, first and foremost.
Honestly, as someone who gets to see the best in the world do this, I’ve been a bit spoiled. I’m not a boxing snob by any means, and I actually enjoyed KSI-Paul II for what it was. But if I was covering the NBA, I don’t know how much I’d enjoy watching pickup games at the Y on the weekends.
This was a real fight, no doubt about it. Thankfully, neither guy was good enough to consistently hit the other, and nobody was seriously hurt. It’s not clear if it overshadowed what else took place, but Devin Haney and Billy Joe Saunders didn’t wow anybody with their earlier performances. This was about the two guys on YouTube, and no boxers with enough of a significant presence of their own was ever going to be on this undercard.
How did Saunders and Haney look in their title fight showcases?
Saunders was able to stop Marcelo Coceres in 11 rounds in a rather dreary and uneventful affair that at times looked more like a sparring session than a championship fight. The crowd, which as explained wasn’t a typical boxing audience, was eerily silent for long stretches.
The fight was so devoid of action and drama that it brought an old one-liner to mind: This fight is so bad they should let you in for free, and charge you to leave. Even with Saunders up on the cards by only two points (96-94) and down by two on the other, there really was no drama.
Until Saunders’ finishing blow in the 11th, it was THAT bad. He even admitted this was far from his best performance. But Saunders was able to retain his WBO 168-pound title, but he failed to gain any new fans on this side of the pond.
As for Haney, he won easily against tall and lanky Alfredo Santiago, but his performance is unlikely to go viral. He was able to flash only occasional signs of his impressive speed and quickness, as Santiago troubled him with his height and occasional right hand. There are certain guys that are very difficult to look good against, and Saturday the 20-year-old Haney had one in front of him. It didn’t help that Haney might have dislocated his right shoulder during this bout.
You wonder if he would have been better off facing Petr Petrov, who despite being much more seasoned at the world-class level than the relatively inexperienced Santiago (who came into this contest with only a dozen pro fights) has a much more methodical style that might have been made to order for the quick hands of Haney, who often resorted to lunging at Santiago.
There has been a lot of chatter about Haney challenging Vasiliy Lomachenko and Gervonta Davis, but the truth of the matter is that he’s really still a prospect who didn’t actually win his WBC title in the ring.
He wanted this to be part of his star-making process, and instead, Haney got a lesson in patience. There’s no doubting his ability, it just might not be his time yet.