LOGAN PAUL and KSI represent the new generation of role models for young people, according to Eddie Hearn.
The Matchroom boxing promoter is overseeing the YouTube stars’ rematch in the ring and admits to being taken aback by how big the event is.
While admitting the boxing showdown is “a circus”, Hearn, 40, wants to make the most of the huge viewing figures and bolster the sport’s audience.
And the next generation are his target as the likes of Paul and KSI are seen as far bigger role models than Olympic stars such as Usain Bolt and Jessica Ennis-Hill.
Hearn told The Sportsman: “It’s a circus. I think it will be good for the sport, but it’s a circus.
“I have to be honest, I was stood in the press conference thinking ‘What the f**k is going on here?’.
“Then I looked at the numbers and I saw that 700,000 people were watching the press conference live on their channels. I think now 10 million people have watched the press conference.
“So what’s the global audience for this fight going to be? I don’t know, in excess of 50 million?
“If we can retain 1 per cent to the sport, then that’s massive for the sport, but we’ve got to work hard to do that. It’s not going to be easy, I’d like to retain 10 per cent.
“If we can showcase why we love the sport, Devin Haney, Billy Joe Saunders and show this new audience how great the sport is, then we’ve got a chance.
“We can’t ignore this new world that we live in. Olympic athletes are no longer role models for the younger generation, YouTube stars are. As sad as it may seem, that’s the truth, that’s the world we live in.
“We just need to face reality, embrace it and try and use that to keep growing boxing.”
British YouTuber and rapper KSI, 26, will face off with American video star Paul, 24, on November 9 in Los Angeles after they drew in Manchester last year.
Last weekend’s major boxing bout unimpressed Hearn, meanwhile.
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Tyson Fury beat little-known Otto Wallin as a warm-up for an eventual rematch with Deontay Wilder but sustained a huge cut on his face in the process.
And the Matchroom promoter feels the event as a whole was a limp affair.
Hearn added: “I give every fighter credit, but I didn’t see the fight as I was on a plane. However, Fury was poor and obviously the cut made the fight a lot closer than it should have been.
“They didn’t sell any tickets, it was a flat event but Fury got a load of money, so congratulations to him and I’m sure in a tougher fight he would perform much better because he’s a quality fighter.”