It's time for the next iteration of boxing exhibitions. This one feels a bit different than most as previous ones have featured celebrities or retired athletes from other sports lacing up the gloves to put on a good show. Now, one of the greatest boxers of all time is walking back into the ring for a matchup against ... a social media star. Retired pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather will take on Logan Paul in an 8-round exhibition from Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, on Sunday June 6. The two top a four-fight card set to air live on Showtime PPV.
Paul has vowed to ruin Mayweather's legacy by scoring a big upset, which may be true even if the result of a fight will not alter Mayweather's sparkling 50-0 record as a professional. Paul's quest to forever alter the way Mayweather is remembered as a fighter is just one of the storylines at play this weekend.
Let's take a look at some of the biggest storylines heading into Mayweather vs. Paul, including whether Paul has any chance of actually cashing in on this opportunity.
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The big "What if?"
Obviously, there's no bigger story heading into this fight than the idea of Paul, a controversial YouTuber, beating one of the all-time boxing greats. While the larger-than-life personalities of both men are what will pull in the eyeballs, there may be a more interesting aspect to the fight itself. That angle lies in questions fundamental to the structure of the sport. Given adequate time to prepare and with financial resources, can a much larger, and fairly athletic, younger man beat a great -- but much smaller -- boxer who is already well into his retirement?
On the surface, that answer is a simple "no." But, as Paul has said repeatedly, there's a reason weight classes exist in boxing. Paul is a physically strong man, and while he doesn't seem quite as natural a boxer as younger brother Jake, he does appear to have fully committed himself to legitimate boxing training, even if trainer Milton Lacroix's claims that Paul's jab may be better than the great Larry Holmes seems like a massive stretch. That certainly leaves open the possibility of the proverbial "puncher's chance" to land one flush on a smaller 44-year-old Mayweather and have it actually impact the fight.
Or, maybe Mayweather simply humiliates Paul from the opening bell.
Is Jake Paul next for Mayweather?
Jake appears to be the better boxer of the Paul brothers, and Mayweather has talked about beating both Pauls in 2021 -- and even suggested that he would fight them both on the same night. There's also the now infamous "gotcha hat" moment, where Jake stole the hat from off Mayweather's head and ate a punch in the ensuing melee. If Mayweather beats Logan -- the most likely result of the fight -- there's several storylines that make a fight with Jake a truly huge one in terms of interest.
While Logan is 0-1, failing to beat fellow YouTube star KSI both in an amateur fight and in his professional debut, Jake is 3-0 and has knocked out all three opponents, including former NBA point guard Nate Robinson and former MMA champion Ben Askren. While the level of competition hasn't been great, Jake has shown a dedication to his training, visible growth in his skills and some good power.
If Mayweather wants to keep making big money by showing up for the circus, it seems his next fight is all but locked in.
Is this what boxing is now?
The Paul brothers trips to the ring, as well as fights like Mike Tyson vs. Roy Jones Jr., have led to a narrative that boxing has become a sport that needs novelty fights to thrive. Even the undercard of Paul vs. Mayweather backs up some of those claims with former NFL star wide receiver Chad "Ochocinco" Johnson making his boxing debut in an exhibition fight.
Of course, that line of thinking ignores that boxing is putting out some great fights with more on the schedule in the coming months. This past Saturday night saw Devin Haney make a statement with an exciting win over Jorge Linares and Nonito Donaire turning back the clock and knocking out Nordine Oubaali to become the oldest bantamweight world champion in the history of the sport. That came after Josh Taylor and Jose Ramirez battled in a compelling fight for the undisputed title at 140 pounds and a host of other recent great ones. The welterweight and lightweight divisions are stacked with talent, Errol Spence Jr. is going to fight Manny Pacquiao this summer, and while the heavyweight unification fight between Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua was bumped from the schedule, the "punishment" for boxing fans will likely be Fury vs. Deontay Wilder 3 and Joshua vs. Oleksandr Usyk. There are plenty of reasons for boxing fans to be excited about much of what has happened for the sport recently.
Boxing may never return to the heights of any of several former "golden eras" but the sport is doing just fine while the novelty fights draw in big attention for a completely separate audience.