Gotcha Hut and your playbook
Floyd Mayweather and Jake Paul stood facing each other, chatting face to face, surrounded by cameras and phones, in their element.
It was her first press conference in Miami before Sunday’s show fight between Mayweather – the retired and undefeated boxer who is considered by many to be one of the greatest of all time – and Logan Paul, Jake’s older brother and another internet star. What happened next is well documented. Jake stole Mayweather’s hat, a scuffle erupted, and the interaction went viral and hit the headlines.
Mayweather returns in many ways to the kind of spectacle he ruled at the height of his career. As good as Mayweather was in the ring, he was arguably better at marketing and promoting himself as the best villain in the sport. The Paul Brothers have played a similar role on the internet, benefiting time and again from the chaos they have created.
Many boxers have tried to mimick the Mayweather advertising book that made him the highest paid athlete in the world from 2010 to 2019, according to Forbes. And while many boxers have tried to become “the next Mayweather” only to fail, those who have had similar advertising success lately are influencers who have become fight stars.
Like Mayweather, Logan, 26, and Jake, 24, play the role of the heel. All three make a living from it. And they are able to make something tangible out of it – dollars.
“They did an excellent job mimicking Floyd’s marketing genius,” Leonard Ellerbe, Mayweather’s longtime advisor, told ESPN. “They made something out of it that was extremely profitable for them. It made them important players in the boxing industry.”
Jake Paul (left) and Logan Paul (right) use Floyd Mayweather’s blueprint to do the boxing. Michael Reaves / Getty Images
At the same time, they all had significant personal and legal problems. Logan received backlash and lost revenue after a video blog from a Japanese “suicide forest” for which he later apologized. Jake was charged with sexual assault earlier this year and has denied the allegations. Just a few years into Mayweather’s career, his legal troubles began, including a 2009 domestic violence conviction that resulted in a 90-day prison sentence.
Somehow none of it kept him out of the ring.
Mayweather won the bronze medal at the 1996 Olympics after many believed he was stripped of gold because of a poor judgment. He has bulleted some of the sport’s top names – Arturo Gatti, Jose Luis Castillo, Diego Corrales, Zab Judah – and became a multi-division champion. The fighter known as “Pretty Boy” wasn’t a massive pay-per-view star, however.
Against Judah, Mayweather was hit with two illegal blows that nearly sparked a fight in the ring, but he shrugged and even downplayed the incident afterwards.
“That’s what it’s about – acting like a gentleman,” Mayweather told a group of reporters after the fight. “Because that will take you further in the corporate world.”
That changed when Mayweather took on Oscar De La Hoya in 2007. During that press tour, Mayweather played the heel, angering everyone he could. At the end of the tour in Los Angeles, Mayweather brought out a chicken with a mock medal to represent De La Hoya, a former Olympic gold medalist. He also stole De La Hoya’s bag.
The fight reportedly made 2.5 million pay-per-view purchases, nearly seven times its previous PPV fight. A new, polarizing character was born. For the rest of his career he was known as “Money” Mayweather.
“For a pay-per-view to be successful, emotions are the main ingredient,” said Richard Schaefer, founder of Ringstar Sports, who previously promoted some of Mayweathers’ bouts. “You have to be able to arouse emotions in the people who encourage them to buy and push the ‘buy’ button.
“If you can create these emotions, you know you have a successful pay-per-view. And no one was better than Floyd Mayweather by creating those emotions.”
Floyd Mayweather, above, brought a chicken to mock Oscar De La Hoya during a press conference to announce their 2007 fight. Hector Mata / AFP via Getty Images
The Paul Brothers have been creating these divisive emotions on the internet for years. They became famous in the early 2010s with the now-defunct Vine social media app, which allowed users to upload 6-second clips that were in a loop. They took on that influence when they moved to YouTube, where they now have a combined 43.4 million subscribers. From there, it’s Instagram, Tik Tok, whatever – if there is a social media platform, they do their best to find out how to own it and monetize their efforts. Despite their lack of experience and previous exposure, they do the same thing in boxing.
Just like Mayweather, who has always allied himself with Showtime and HBO, the Pauls have maximized their influence in the sport by finding the right distributors. The first two fights for Logan – an exhibition and a pro – were promoted by Eddie Hearns Matchroom Boxing, one of the, if not the largest boxing advertisers in the sport. Hearn’s desire to find new eyes for the sport was a driving force in this endeavor, but for Logan it was the perfect outlet for his brand.
Jake worked with Triller in his last two bouts, beating former NBA All-Star Nate Robinson on the sub-chart of Mike Tyson’s fight against Roy Jones Jr. He then headlined the next Triller event, beating Ben Askren in just two minutes out. He signed a deal with Showtime last week and will face former UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley this August.
“I want to keep fighting and I have a list of goals for people who keep talking – Antonio Brown, Dillon Danis, other YouTubers – the potential for this is enormous and I know I’ll be the best ‘influencer’ -boxer ‘”, Paul told Matchroom Boxing ahead of his pro debut in January 2020. “This is new, it’s an untapped industry for me. I see myself as an innovator and pioneer. “
Mayweather’s playbook has always featured strategic matchmaking. Regardless of the argument over who was to blame for the delay, Mayweather didn’t fight Manny Pacquiao until six years after he became a welterweight champion. He added Canelo Alvarez to his list of wins, while Alvarez was early in his career and was well below his current fighting weight of 168 pounds. Mayweather’s last boxing win, which gave him a perfect 50-0 record, came against UFC superstar Conor McGregor, who had never boxed professionally before his TKO loss to Mayweather in 2017.
“Since taking charge of his career, he’s had an intuitive understanding of what his fans want and what his critics want to fight back, and he’s excited to offer both,” said Stephen Espinoza, President of Showtime Sports of Mayweather. “I think the same can be said of Logan Paul and Jake Paul as well.”
Sunday’s press conference in Miami to promote the exhibition revealed these similarities. Each man used each other’s legal issues as verbal barbs to attack one another on stage. Even Jake’s hat theft, which resulted in everyone being held back, was good for business. Coverage of the incident dominated the news cycle that followed.
“I have to say it was awesome what he did with the theft of his hat,” said Schäfer. “This guy knows exactly what buttons to press, what he’s doing. This guy is absolutely brilliant.”
Floyd Mayweather and Logan Paul face each other at Hard Rock Stadium ahead of Sunday’s fight.
In Showtime’s Inside Mayweather vs. Paul Battle Preview special, Logan Paul and Mayweather can be seen reviewing footage when it went viral.
“Shout at my brother that he sold the fight for me,” Logan said into the camera.
Sunday’s exhibition could be as one-sided as Mayweather’s 2017 fight against McGregor. Maybe even more. Mayweather-McGregor reportedly sold 4.3 million PPVs, fueling the nontraditional matchmaking trend that has proven lucrative for both Mayweather and the Paul brothers.
If Mayweather leaves the exhibit unharmed, it could open the door to a future fight against Jake Paul. Given the marketability of both men and the evolution of their recent endeavors, it is possible that a Jake Paul Mayweather event could be one of the best-selling pay-per-views in martial arts history.
And how did we get here? A hat snatched, a bag stolen, poultry-based mockery. All the plans from the Mayweather Game Book that prove the Paul Brothers found the key to redeeming them.
“The possibilities are really endless,” said Espinoza. “As long as they keep developing and training and committed to the sport, there is literally no end to the challenges they can take on. And I think that will keep it interesting.”