Mike Tyson shared a card with Jake Paul on Saturday night, but the heavyweight boxing legend admits he’d never heard of the 23-year-old YouTube celebrity until just recently.
In fact it wasn’t until Paul and his older brother Logan started engaging in high-profile celebrity boxing matches that Tyson’s sons initially mentioned the siblings to him.
“I didn’t know he existed until my sons wanted to fight him one day,” Tyson said after going to a draw with Roy Jones Jr. on Saturday night. “I said, ‘Who are you going to fight? This guy? Come on,’ and he was a big star.
“Everybody knows who he is, and I’m so happy that he joined on the bandwagon with me and Roy.”
On the night Tyson returned to the ring for the first time in 15 years, Paul competed in the co-main event and demolished ex-NBA player Nate Robinson with a second-round knockout. Paul is now 2-0 as a professional boxer with plans to devote even more time to the sport moving forward.
While Paul and his brother have received a ton of criticism from boxing purists for their involvement in the sport, Tyson argues they actually deserve a lot of credit and much more respect than they’ve been shown thus far.
“Listen, my ego says so many things, but my reality is they help boxing so much,” Tyson explained. “Boxing owes these guys, they owe these YouTube boxers some kind of respect. They should give them some belts because these guys make boxing alive.
“Boxing was pretty much a dying sport. UFC was kicking our butts, and now we got these YouTube boxers boxing with 25 million views. Boxing’s going back. Thanks to the YouTube boxers.”
To put that into perspective, the Logan Paul-KSI YouTube pay-per-view where Jake Paul competed on the undercard drew over 2.25 million viewers while generating a $3.5 million live gate for the event.
Of course, boxing has thrived around massive events like the heavyweight title fight between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder as well as recent cards airing on networks such as ESPN with high profile bouts such as Vasyl Lomachenko taking on Teofimo Lopez.
While boxing seems to come alive around high-profile fights like those, the UFC is a more consistent product with notable events taking place week-to-week and massive events promoted when superstars such as Conor McGregor, Israel Adesanya or Khabib Nurmagomedov compete.
In an age where television networks are struggling to maintain ratings while going up against streaming services and videos shown on YouTube and TikTok are earning billions of views, Tyson believes boxers like Paul are exactly what the sport needs right now.
“I believe the more anyone boxes the bigger it is for the sport,” Tyson said. “Cause boxing took a couple of beatings since the UFC’s been around.”