In February Olajide KSI Olatunji, a British YouTuber with more than 18.5 million followers managed to attract more viewers to a white collar boxing match between two amateur fighters than watched the FA Cup final.
Now, a date and location for the sequel to that fight, due to be contested by two of online video’s biggest stars has been released – though the future of the fight itself is in jeopardy.
Twenty four-year-old KSI has been engaged in a war of words with Logan Paul, the 22-year-old YouTuber famous for uploading a video of a suicide victim to YouTube, triggering a temporary ban from making money on the site, since calling out the American after defeating Joe Weller, another YouTuber, in front of a sold-out crowd at the Copper Box Arena back in February.
In tweets sent overnight on Thursday between the two YouTubers, who have more than 35 million subscribers between them, the pair revealed key details about their mooted meeting.
The bout, due to be the first of two between the YouTubers, has been pencilled in for 25 August, a bank holiday weekend. Manchester Arena – a venue The Independent understands has been held for weeks in anticipation of an agreement being signed – was confirmed by a screenshot of the contract posted by Logan Paul on Twitter.
The choice of venue demonstrates the difference in scale between the February bout between KSI and Joe Weller, a well-known albeit smaller YouTuber and the planned August fight between KSI and Logan Paul, one of YouTube’s best known (and most controversial names).
London’s Copper Box Arena, which hosted the February fight, held 7,500 fans. Configured for a boxing match, Manchester Arena can hold three times that number: 21,000 attendees.
The Independent understands that unlike the February bout against Joe Weller, if the fight with Paul were to go ahead it would not be streamed for free on YouTube. Instead, fans would be expected to pay a nominal amount to watch the fight, boosting revenues from the live video stream.
According to forecasts by YouTube analytics firm SocialBlade, three videos of the February fight and associated weigh-ins, including the live stream uploaded to KSI’s YouTube channel, netted him between $15,300 (£11,000) and $123,000 in advertising revenue.
JD Sports also sponsored the February bout, while special merchandise, created especially for the fight, was selling well on the evening, too.
The Manchester Arena bout would be the first of two fights between the YouTubers, with a return fight in the United States planned for some time before the end of February 2019. Under the terms of the agreement, a fuller version of which was posted by KSI to Twitter, KSI would receive all ticket revenue for the UK fight, while Logan Paul would receive all revenue from ticket sales for the US return bout.
These terms were proposed, The Independent understands, to simplify visa and taxation issues.
However, both fights may be scrapped. The reason the terms of the agreement, which have been under negotiation for weeks, were posted to Twitter by the combatants is that neither side to date has been able to come to an agreement.
Both sides allege inaction from their counterparts on the other side of the Atlantic has scuppered an agreement being reached. Stuart Jones, the founder of Upload Agency, which promoted the original February bout and is helping arrange the August fight, claimed on Twitter that Logan Paul’s manager, Jeffrey Oscar Levin, “has not said a single word [about the contract] in the last three weeks.”
KSI has said he will be announcing his opponent for the fight in August in a video this Sunday. The Independent understands that in the event that an agreement is not reached by 5pm today, another American YouTuber is likely to face KSI at Manchester Arena.
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