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KSI vs Joe Weller: Millions watch YouTube stars' boxing match

Victory sees gamer-turned-rapper call out controversial vlogger Logan Paul for his next bout

Jon Sharman
Tuesday 06 February 2018 13:29 GMT
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Millions tune in to watch YouTube stars settle Twitter beef in the ring

Hundreds of thousands watched live as YouTube stars KSI and Joe Weller took their online arguments into a real-world boxing ring, and millions more have tuned in to catch up on the action.

The pair feuded in videos and on Twitter for months before their fight in east London, which gamer-turned-rapper KSI won handily by technical knockout in the third of six rounds.

Videos of the bout have amassed more than 20 million views since Saturday night and some 1.6 million people were thought to have watched live.

The spat began when Weller, 21, won his first YouTube boxing fight last August and KSI put himself forward as his next opponent.

Following a string of insulting “diss track” videos and posturing tweets the two faced off at the Copper Box Arena in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

It was 20 seconds before Weller threw his first punch, after a series of jabs from his opponent had bypassed his guard entirely.

They traded blows, with 24-year-old KSI – real name Olajide Olatunji – using his superior reach to land the majority of the shots and bloody Weller’s nose with an uppercut.

Midway through the third round a struggling Weller was given a standing count and the referee stopped the fight shortly after the restart.

The months of profane trash-talking were conveniently forgotten immediately after the bout.

Weller said that his opponent “was the deserved winner and I wanna congratulate him and his team on the success”, and Olatunji said: “Joe you are way harder, way tougher than I thought. Fair play, respect for you for getting in the ring and giving me a tough battle, bro.”​

Olatunji built his channel around Fifa gaming content, adding commentary and personality-driven videos and eventually gaining more than 17 million subscribers, making him one of the website’s biggest stars.

Weller shares Olatunji’s affinity for football but more of his videos are vlog- and prank-based.

The pair have known each other for several years, their uploads show, and neither is a stranger to controversy.

Weller wore blackface while dressing up as Mario Balotelli for a series in which he tries to convince women to kiss him, while among Olatunji’s most-watched videos – with 11 million views – is one called “Smash or Pass: Female YouTubers”.

Over 23 minutes, he and two friends discuss prominent online stars and rate how attractive they are.

Following Saturday’s fight Olatunji suggested he would next seek to fight Logan Paul, the video-maker who sparked outrage by posting a clip of a dead body in Japan.

Paul lost his “preferred” status with YouTube over the incident, but has since said he intends to return to the platform.

YouTube, owned by Google's parent company Alphabet, has itself suffered the wrath of sponsors and advertisers after a series of reports that outed disturbing content featuring children last year.

It faced accusations that its moderation was not up to scratch and, separately, an inquisition from MPs who charged that its algorithm for recommending videos allowed viewers to be drawn into a “bubble of hate”.

The mega-corporation announced last month that it would tighten its rules for which YouTube videos could be monetised.

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