In an exclusive interview with Safe Betting Sites, retired professional boxer Audley Harrison weighs in on the phenomenon of YouTube boxing, giving his prediction for the highly anticipated Paul v Diaz fight this August.
Harrison also opens up about the dangerous post-retirement matchups Roy Jones Jr is making, imploring the legend to hang up his gloves before he gets hurt.
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- Jake Paul is the favorite against Diaz (Nate doesn’t know enough about boxing)
- Roy Jones Jr should stop fighting, I’m worried for his health
- Pro boxers can learn from YouTuber boxers
- Boxing traditionalists, stop hating on YouTuber boxing
Question: Another person with an incredible legacy, Floyd Mayweather, is fighting John Gotti’s grandson in June in an exhibition match. How do you feel about that? Do you feel like he’s in danger of tarnishing his incredible legacy? Or do you think this is just more money making Floyd?
Audley Harrison: “The thing about Floyd is making his money. The thing is, like, Roy Jones is kind of like having these fights and he’s losing. And it’s different because Floyd is not losing these fights. The great Roy Jones having these fights, I think Roy should let it go, because I think Roy’s done everything that he needed to do. And now he’s staying around, I’m worried about him getting hurt. But Floyd is like picking the right fights, he’s making ridiculous money from it, but he’s just keeping it going, keeping the hype going. I mean, he won everything he could as a fighter. He won every belt, moved up in weight and beat everybody. So Floyd has obviously still got the boxing buzz.”
“When I came through the Olympics, nobody knew who I was. Then after the Olympics, everyone knew who I was. I became a household name overnight. Three million people are watching me, 6000 people are watching me in Wembley Arena. Don’t hate on me! I’m just shining my light and making my money. That’s what these YouTubers are doing. Just like when I came through headlining my show, you can’t hate on it. I’m shining my light. I created this pathway. They’ve created this pathway. They’re like influencers. And they say, ‘okay, now we want a box’ and the fans say, ‘oh, we want to watch it’. That’s an interaction. It’s supply and demand. It’s very simple business economics 101.”
“Supply and demand for each other. And it’s like, same with UFC. People want to see it. They want to see boxing. They want to see UFC. They can coexist. We don’t need to say, ‘well, it’s this or that’. No. It’s just not how life works. Even the boxers, you can learn from the YouTubers about building your audience. You can’t just be in the gym, focus on fighting. Put out an instagram post, do an update on Twitter about some of your thoughts, share some of your thoughts. You’ve got to be more engaging and be a bit viral. Do something a little crazy. It may feel uncomfortable. I didn’t have any shame in my game about marketing myself, doing the publicity, because you can’t just be a boxer. Learn from these YouTubers and stuff about creating content, because that’s what it’s about, ultimately. Create content, monetise it, and make your money and get out!
“Fighting wise, Floyd’s legacy is very secure as to what he’d done in the ring. Fighting the best of the best, unbeaten – you got to put him right up there, pound-for-pound for what he’s done in his career. What he’s doing now is just, again, using his influence. He’s an influencer now. He’s thinking, I don’t need to go down that road again of being a boxer. I mean, being like, fighting for belts. I’ve won all the belts. I can win, want to win. I’m at the age where I’m older, I’m not as sharp, so what can I do to still use my influence to make money? That’s what he’s doing. He’s finding other influencers who he can match that make him money. He ain’t going to get too hurt because he’s coming to the gym. He’s doing the work that’s needed for that level of fighter. If he was fighting one of the top guys now, that wouldn’t work, would it? So he’s using his influence. He’s been very smart, and he’s fighting people like John Gotti, who has his influence. He has an audience.”
“Somebody like Roy Jones, Roy Jones should be copying Floyd Mayweather. He’s another pound-for-pound great. I love Roy Jones Jr, but I think because he’s fighting these harder fights, he’s fighting like real fights. That’s the difference. Floyd Mayweather is not fighting against real fighters, so the likelihood of him getting harmed is quite low. He’s fighting like guys that will make him real money. Roy Jones is fighting real fighters, tough fighters and he’s taking punches, losing fights. I’m just worried about him damaging himself, his health. He’s a great fighter, a great individual. But Floyd Mayweather, I don’t see any risk in what he’s doing. I just see more cheques, more zeros.”
Q: Do you see Jake Paul beating Nate Diaz?
AH: “I don’t think Nate Diaz probably knows enough about boxing. Can he learn enough to make it competitive in time? You see it with Tyron Woodley kind of got himself there competitively. So Nate Diaz, he’s a competitor, isn’t he? So I think he’s going to get himself there, hopefully. And it’ll be a good fight for what it is. But I think Jake Paul is the favourite.”
Q: Do you think there is any danger of YouTube boxing overshadowing actual, real boxing? Do you think it’s got its own lane and needs to stay in there?
AH: “When I came through, everybody in England from my first fight knew who Audley Harrison was. People used to be hating, like, ‘he’s a celebrity boxer, he’s going to meet the Royal family, he’s going to these film premieres’. I was like, don’t hate the player, hate the game. I’ve come in here and I’m making noise, I’m making my money. This is me, I’m shining my light. I make no apologies for it. Deal with it. They’re like, ‘but you’re an undercard fighter, you shouldn’t be fighting the main event’. Well, if I’m not fighting the main event, why are they paying money, why is everybody coming to see me?”
“Same as the YouTubers. Stop hating. They’re shining their light, they’re making money. They’re putting boxing on the TV. It’s a different sport. It’s like UFC. What they’re doing, that YouTube boxing is like the white collar boxing. They can’t call it something else. It’s boxing, but it’s not the boxing that we know, the traditional route and it’s ok! I went to the KSI fight, all these young kids were there, 9000 people in there, I saw my old lawyer in there with his daughter, who’s 19. They have their audience and the fact that they want to box and the audience want to watch them and pay the money to do it, you can’t hate on that. The traditional list. That’s antiquated. It’s not relevant. I had the same fight with them 30 years ago. Boxing is what it is, and that’s a different kind of boxing. But it’s bringing fans to the sport. People want to see it because they’re influencers. It’s okay.”