Eddie Hearn and KSI’s DAZN X Misfits Is Not Good for Boxing but…

Published 10/09/2023, 5:21 PM EDT

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Entertainment is what sums up influencer boxing. Pre-fight shenanigans, shorter rounds, and curated controversies for followers have become synonymous with it. Whether you give it a bad name or not, it has surely disrupted the traditional boxing world. While the likes of Eddie Hearn have pounced on the surging phenomenon to extract benefits from it, others are still not ready to cede real boxing distinction to what social media stars do inside the squared circle.

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The debate on whether influencer boxing is detrimental to traditional boxing picked pace when DAZN and KSI’s Misfits penned a five-year deal earlier this year. Since then, amusing ideas such as tag team boxing matches have made their way to DAZN. Despite the vocal criticism, the new collaboration has brought millions of new subscribers. Maybe the numbers speak for themselves, or is everything running in the clamor of entertainment and flair?

Anthony Taylor and Eddie Hearn: the yin-yang sides of influencer boxing

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The British star Anthony Taylor constitutes a small minority that has sided with influencer boxing. “10/10. It’s good for boxing,” he told DAZN enthusiastically when asked whether he was a fan of it.

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He added, “It’s showing people you can fight someone that is well known, credible, can fight. It’s marketable without a championship and can have that same effect early on in your career… I think they are showing guys that there is so much potential in boxing regardless of championships,” 

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Meanwhile, the famed promoter Eddie Hearn has restricted influencer boxing to its entertainment value. For him and others, it holds a similar appeal to a circus. Touching on the boxing tag team match, he remarked to Boxing Social, “I have said that it is not boxing. Let’s just move away from that. I don’t think they want to be ‘boxing’. They are not trying to say, ‘This is championship boxing, this is sport’. This is just entertainment.”

Therefore, the world is split into two halves. While the purists fail to look beyond the entertainment aspect, others see the future of parallel existence. But there is a slippery slope as well. Influencer boxing pushed things a little too far this July when a controversy involving Daniella Hemsley shocked the world.

An incident from influencer boxing that shook the traditional boxing world

Daniella Hemsley did the unthinkable when she flashed on live TV after her bout against Aleksandra ‘Ms. Danielka’ Daniel. The antics didn’t sit well with the female champions, Claressa Shields and Ebanie Bridges. Shields turned to X-handle and blasted the incident as a backward step for female boxing.

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“Wow….. this is a step backwards for womens boxing. Stop this sh*t,” the American boxer wroteSimilarly, Bridges, drawing parallels with herself, addressed the situation. She penned down, “There is weighing in in Underwear like everyone else… but having big b**bs…. And then theres actually showing ur t*ts on TV.” The Aussie boxer then explained the situation as Hemsley’s desire to seize attention and views, as the latter’s influencing world revolves around the buzz.

Hemsley’s actions even left Eddie Hearn infuriated, who believed her antics set up a wrong role model for kids. He told Boxing Social, “My opinion is, I hate it. I hate it… All that stuff — Misfits, Kingpyn, all that stuff. It needs to be booted so far away from professional boxing, and we really need to disassociate ourselves with what it is.”

That being said, the event became a rage on the internet and pulled in massive numbers. As a result, the fine margin between entertainment and boxing seems to be eroding sometimes, and that has bugged the likes of Eddie Hearn and other pundits.

However, influencer boxing has contributed more to traditional boxing. It has birthed a new breed of fighters who know how to harness the power of social media and pull the crowd. And the curious case of Jake Paul is one such instance.

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Paradoxical Jake Paul and the spoils of influencer boxing

The American influencer made the successful switch to boxing and is one of very few who didn’t dilute the sanctity of traditional boxing. ‘The Problem Child’ himself is among the crowd that admonishes influencer boxing. He told Sun, “I do see how it has entertainment value. The problem with it is that they call it ‘boxing’ and ‘influencer boxing’. It’s just more like this circus spectacle, which is fine, but let’s not ruin the sport of boxing.”

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But how does the traditional boxing spirit fare when pitted against the numbers produced by influencer boxing? When DAZN first hosted the Misfits event, 2 million people turned on their screens, and out of those, 90% were new subscribers. That pushed DAZN to ink a deal with the Misfits, and the numbers still show a similar trend. Hence, the question is not whether influencer boxing is adulterating traditional boxing but whether it is pulling the masses to the sport. The answer is a resounding yes.

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Watch This Story: Logan Paul vs. Dillon Danis Stats: Record, Age, Height, Reach, Weight, and Knockout Ratio

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Written by:

Rohit Lohan

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Rohit Lohan is a Content Analyst for Boxing at EssentiallySports. Over his tenure at ES, Rohit has authored over 900 articles spanning a wide array of themes, including core sports, entertainment, and live events. Armed with a background in law, Rohit brings a unique perspective to his sports coverage.
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Edited by:

Snigdhaa Jaiswal

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