MF & DAZN X: SERIES 001: KSI vs Swarmz & Pineda

The YouTube star KSI makes his boxing return tonight, fighting two opponents in one night. Does he have enough skill to be considered a proper boxer? Will he be able to win two bouts on the same night? And are we in fact being tricked into watching celebrities work out their personal vendettas under the established rules of boxing? Only those who watch tonight will know. 

As I sat at a Scandinavian café in London working out my weekly travels I noticed I would be back in London by Saturday after a brief stint in Oxford. What, I wondered, does a boxing writer do on a Saturday evening in London? He seeks out the biggest fight. As it happens, the fight on offer is KSI vs Swarmz and Pineda. Two fights, one night. YouTube stars. Speaking to my coach and friends at my boxing club in the south of London earlier this week opinions were divided. Some argue the “influencers” have true skill and have managed to hone the business side of boxing. Others hold that it waters down the sport, with fans being duped into thinking they are watching the real deal while, in fact, it is amateurs on a glorified stage. 

One has to be realistic. This is not a title fight for the world championship. They are influencers. But they have brought a huge following to the sport of boxing which has been dying for reasons outlined before. Amongst other reasons: the multitude of promoters and belts. When influencers manage to put on a boxing event at The O2 in Wembley, expecting nearly 20.000 fans, one has to look. 

What attracts people to the sport today – merely the fact that the fighters are well-known names on social media? Or have these influencers brought revived and genuine interest in the sport? It’s hard to tell, and I’m hoping to find answers tonight. KSI has 23.9 million YouTube subscribers, while Swarmz has “only” 10.8 thousand. In total social follows KSI has 43.3 million followers and a reach of 5.9 billion views on YouTube. All of those can’t be uninterested in the sport itself, and this is surely for a rather obvious reason: people like a fight. 

The YouTubers – mostly, but not only, men – generate huge traction by calling each other out, making videos about each other and posting vaguely comedic but generally rude posts on social media. It’s a brilliant PR strategy. ’I have thousands of followers, and so do you – if we call each other out we reach more people.’ I doubt the grudges are always authentic. Nevertheless, they have found an arena – the ring – where they can work out their feigned or real disagreements, attract a huge following, and generate a massive paycheck. It’s all marketing. As such, one has to hand it to them, and we are all let in on the game (for a fee). Boxing is a primal sport: it accentuates human conflict but moderates the most extreme impulses. Rules, customs, and gloves serve to shroud the human drama in restraining garb.  

As for the event itself, KSI takes on Swarmz at the beginning of the event. Swarmz makes his first ring walk and hopes to shock the boxing world, while KSI is looking to impress the world and gain recognition as a boxer. Luis Alcaraz Pineda is a professional boxer from Mexico with a record of 2-5. Hardly a top name, but KSI is still in his early days (to give him the benefit of the doubt). KSI and Pineda face off at the end of the night. As KSI is the obvious star of the evening, it would be a surprise if he doesn’t walk away victoriously. From both fights. 

Full card:

  • KSI vs. Luis Pineda; Cruiserweight
  • Faze Tempter vs. Slim Albaher; Light heavyweight
  • Deji vs. Fousey; Light heavyweight
  • Faze Sensei vs. King Kenny; Catchweight
  • Salt Papi vs. Andy Warski; Catchweight
  • Sam Hyde vs. IAMTHMPSN; Heavyweight
  • Deen The Great vs. Evil Hero; Catchweight
  • KSI vs. Swarmz; Cruiserweight

Watch it live on DAZN.

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