The enormity of what was on the line between KSI and Logan Paul in YouTuber boxing’s most outrageous moment may only be truly clear a year later.
The winner KSI (Knowledge, Strength, Integrity) had his net worth valued at £12 million on The Sunday Times’ Rich List in May 2020 but, since then, has released his debut studio album and, more recently still, a single with Craig David. Yes, really.
“I knew that if I won it would open a lot of doors. And it did,” KSI frankly tells Sky Sports one year after beating Paul – but the lure of the boxing ring is proving addictive to him.
KSI vs Logan Paul appalled and entertained in equal measure – it was an eccentric, baffling whirlwind of teenagers and online influencers colliding in a spectacle that attracted more eyeballs than they could have ever imagined.
The fight itself?
In 2018 KSI and Paul brawled to a draw in Manchester in an event dubbed “”the biggest internet event in history” – so on November 9, 2019 they removed their headguards, turned professional, and fought a six-round rematch in Los Angeles which Britain’s KSI won via split decision.
“Me and Logan had no right to headline a boxing show like that,” KSI now admits.
“A lot of old heads and boxing fanatics were angry, annoyed, confused.
“Afterwards people saw what it brought to the scene. It brought a younger audience and got people interested.”
That much is true.
The stakes for their unique fight a year ago were simple – the loser would become a meme for life, constantly reminded of failure whenever they scrolled through their phone. That was the threat.
“If you get knocked out, that’s your career done,” KSI now says.
His success in the past 12 months proves there were colossal consequences in that YouTuber boxing match.
KSI happily gave Sky Sports his memories on the anniversary but Paul, as you may expect, has not acknowledged it.
“Do you see Logan talking about anything? He was a ghost. He saw his socials: ‘You lost, you lost, you lost’.
“In the back of your mind it must eat away. No-one wants to lose. Not a lot of people want to be in that situation.”
So at what point is it fair to commend these YouTuber boxers for putting on the line the thing that value most? For risking that which they hold dearest?
The year since has been spent by KSI in a music studio. He has nimbly readjusted to the next phase of a career which started by playing the FIFA video game and streaming it to YouTube, a platform where he currently has 22 million subscribers.
“I knew how important it was,” he reflects on the fight.
“My legacy was on the line.
“If I lost I wouldn’t be able to make a tune with Rick Ross! It wouldn’t have the same feel.
“I wouldn’t be as big as I am in music.
“Me winning that fight is the reason why so many eyes are now drawn to my music.”
KSI has released ‘Really Love’, a song alongside Craig David, and his second album is out next year.
“It’s upping my value when it comes to a boxing fight,” he smiles.
This was always the plan but would Craig David have looked twice if KSI emerged with a 0-1 boxing record?
“I really don’t let things get to me,” KSI said. “Because if I do, I would freak out and panic.
“‘I’m fighting in front of millions with everything on the line?’
“My head would implode!
“I kept everything calm and collected. This was another step in my career that I needed to do to get to the next step.
“I knew how big it was. I knew it was humongous. But it never got to me, man.
“I never look at social media, newspapers or anything to do with the fight. I focused on training – until the pressure got to me, and I started swinging!”
The fight was a messy affair and Paul had two points docked for fouling KSI. That was a moment of distress that he needed to overcome.
“When I got knocked down? People said: ‘This is it!’
“I had five minutes to recover but only took one because I needed to put the pressure on Logan. Even when I was drowsy I knew: ‘I’m not losing this’.
“That’s my mind-set with everything – boxing, YouTube, music. If I say that I’m going to win, then I’m going to win.”
YouTuber boxing has continued.
Jake Paul, Logan’s younger brother, defeated Britain’s AnEsonGib and is scheduled to fight former NBA player Nate Robinson this month.
KSI vs Jake Paul is the natural route to go.
“We will see more but it’s about finding the right fights,” KSI said. “You need fights where people are invested.
“Me and Jake Paul? There is a narrative. I beat his brother, he beat my brother. It is huge. People would love to see it.
“It is the finale of fights in terms of YouTuber boxing.”
But to entice KSI is now a heftier task than it was a year ago. He added: “Of course I would do it again. I’m waiting for the right contract.
“When I was in the Mayweather camp I spoke to people there. I understand how valuable I am, how in demand I am.
“Fight Jake Paul for less money than I got for fighting Logan? Why would I do that?”
Interestingly Viddal Riley, the 4-0 cruiserweight prospect who acted as KSI’s trainer for the Paul fight, has distanced himself from returning to the YouTuber boxing scene.
Riley told Sky Sports: “It needs to stop. It’s gone too far now.
“The only fight that makes sense is Jake and KSI. Once that happens, end it on a high note before YouTuber boxing gets a bad name.”
“Once the right money is made, I’ll talk to Viddal and he will come around,” he smiled.
So will the rest of us.
Watch an exclusive interview with KSI on the Sky Sports Boxing YouTube page.
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