With a victory over fellow social media star KSI in their illegal boxing match in front of a capacity crowd of 20,000 at Manchester’s AO Arena, Tommy Fury earned the opportunity to compete against him.
In a six-round cruiserweight fight, both fighters repeatedly grappled and failed to land any notable blows, but Fury, 24, prevailed by majority vote.
The judges gave Fury a 57-57, 57-56, and 57-56 victory.
Olajide William Olatunji, KSI’s real name, declared the outcome “a robbery” and demanded a rematch.
The 30-year-old said Fury, “Look at your face, look at your eyes.” “I’m the YouTuber and you’re the boxer, I understand, you have to win.”
Fury, however, referred to his rival as “a sore loser” and declared himself “done with crossover boxing.”
The British Boxing Board of Control, which regulates the sport there, refused to recognize the fight because KSI does not possess a professional boxing license in the UK.
For a competition that organizers thought would generate up to a million pay-per-view purchases and net both competitors seven figures, the venue was packed to capacity.
The hoopla and publicity surrounding the battle infuriated die-hard boxing fans and athletes, with people like former world champion Carl Froch claiming it tarnished the sport’s reputation.
But there is no denying the enormous interest in such “crossover boxing” events featuring social media stars, even if it is not from purists.
The attendance was twice as large as the all-British world title bout between Josh Warrington and Leigh Wood last week, which was a candidate for fight of the year.
In contrast to boxing events where the venue is rarely full before the main event, the arena was full by 19:00 BST, four and a half hours before the Fury-KSI fight. This is evidence that the entire card is promoted on social media followings and fighter popularity rather than boxing prowess or a marquee headliner.
American Alex Wassabi, who participated in the first fight of the TV broadcast, has more than three million Instagram followers, over a million more than unified heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk, demonstrating the appeal of crossover boxing.
In attendance as a spectator, promoter Eddie Hearn sat ringside alongside British super-middleweight Chris Eubank Jr.
Along with them were famous people including presenter Louis Theroux, former England soccer and Euro 2022 champion Jill Scott, British rapper Aitch, and Olympic distance runner Mo Farah, who was attending his son’s birthday.
Tyson Fury, the WBC heavyweight champion, was present to support his younger brother Tommy. When asked if he might ever appear on an influencer card, the British man claimed the incident was “beautiful for the game” and quipped, “you never know.”
Legendary master of ceremonies Michael Buffer gave the main event the star treatment and introduced the boxers, but as was to be expected, it was not a display of elite boxing.
Fury, a fan of horror movies, entered the ring to Michael Jackson’s Thriller. This was in contrast to KSI, who drove up in a green Lamborghini sports car while his own song, which is titled after the supercar, was playing.
The officials made the players touch gloves. In the first minute of the fight, KSI landed a straight right on Fury’s neck, but the two men continued to struggle.
Manchester’s Fury claimed to be a real boxer with world title aspirations after defeating Jake Paul in a legal fight to win his ninth professional fight in February, but he didn’t seem to be any better than KSI, who has just one pro fight under his belt.
Fury lost a point in the second round for striking the back of the head, but he closed the distance in the third round by succeeding on the inside. With greater clinching in the fourth and fifth rounds, neither combatant was able to use the jab effectively.
In the decisive round, KSI successfully executed a planned right hand. As the last bell rang, both men lifted their arms.
In his post-fight interview, KSI stated, “We’re going to appeal, and I want to appeal.” I apologize, but that’s outrageous. I thought I had won that.
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