On June 12th, stars from TikTok and YouTube are coming together in a giant boxing match dubbed "The Battle of the Platforms." I simply cannot wait.
Celebrity boxing has long been the tacky last refuge for stars whose relevance is fading. It became such a running joke that the tendency for celebrities to try their hand at gimmick-y boxing matches is the entire basis of the MTV claymation parody show Celebrity Death Match. In the age of the content creator, internet celebrities like Jake and Logan Paul have also gotten into the ring, and found it to be very lucrative. In 2018, Logan Paul and YouTuber KSI boxed each other, and the phenomenon has only grown with time. This weekend, Paul will box Floyd Mayweather in a pay-per-view event that is being aggressively advertised.
By fighting established boxers like the retired, 44 year old Mayweather, Paul can promote his brand even if he loses. Paul's notoriety and scandals are a benefit in this scenario as well. Even if you don't like Paul, it's hard not to be curious about what would happen when Mayweather's fist meets Paul's face. Paul is also directly involved in organizing the Battle of the Platforms, which pits TikTok and YouTubers against each other in a sensationalist bonanza.
A press release describes the event as a "Gatsby-esque over-the-top production boxing competition" featuring internet celebrities like Austin McBroom and Bryce Hall fighting each other. If that wasn't enough, there will also be musical performances from DJ Khaled and Migos.
Executive producer Paul Cazers, who also organized Paul's fight with KSI, says in this press release that they are anticipating this event to be "the largest PPV event in history," citing Paul's fight with KSI as the model that this event is trying to follow.
"There we saw that the rabid international fan base of these social media moguls drove more audience and sales than traditional legacy professional athletic events," Cazers said.
It's strange to read these quotes knowing that the entirety of my interest in these events is watching inept boxers getting punched, but watching often unlikeable people fight each other is also what Cazers and Paul are relying on to sell tickets. The tackiness and spectacle are the point. You don't even have to be intimately familiar with who these internet celebrities are to feel smug about watching them fight each other when the fights are being staged in as kitschy a way as possible. Celebrity boxing is less about boxing and more about schadenfreude, and the upcoming Battle of the Platforms is a cornucopia of other people's misfortune.