Ten years ago this week, the talk of boxing was that David Haye had just matched Evander Holyfield in adding a heavyweight belt to his unified cruiserweight world title.
This weekend’s discussion in the sport surrounds a fight between KSI and Logan Paul, two YouTube celebrities. Matthew Dunn wondered what “the Hayemaker” makes of that.
They have sold out the Staple Centre, Los Angeles and they are predicting it is going to break box office records. It will make a lot of money. It is the way the world is going.
Even big films will get these YouTubers, give them a few acting lessons and stick them in a movie. They are box office.
I could have every belt in the world but if I can’t get 100 people in the world to turn up to a fight, the television networks are interested. Your success in boxing is measured by your fan-base.
These YouTube fighters have found a way to fast-track that.
It allows people who are not boxing fans to tune into an event and watch world class boxing on the undercard. The next time there is a boxing event, some of them may tune in again. Boxing could get some new fans.
I understand the purists – but nobody is forcing them to see it.
They are grown men. They could do a rock-climbing race without a harness instead and people would pay to watch that – at least this way other boxers make some money.
FOOTBALL RECENTLY HIGHLIGHTED THE RISKS OF DEMENTIA. AS A BOXER, ARE YOU WORRIED ABOUT YOUR OWN OLD AGE?
I have been fully aware of the dangers of boxing. They call it punch-drunk syndrome for a reason.
Even some of the greats of late, you hear them in their twilight years and you can barely understand what they are saying. You know it is to do with the volume of punches they receive.
As soon as I was unable to get out of the way of shots was the moment I retired – my last fight against Tony Bellew. I could see what was coming but I was unable to avoid it. I thought, ‘Okay, I can’t do this any more’.
I fortunately devised a style where I received very few clean punches to the head.
Is that worse than somebody who has been heading a ball every day playing football? It might not be so heavy as being punched, but I got punched so little in my career…
At some stage it catches up on you but there are so many different ways you can do damage to your brain – heading a ball or drinking 10 pints of beer three or four times a week. I know there is a connection with brain cells diminishing with alcohol consumption.
WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU HIT SOMEBODY OUTSIDE THE RING?
I am not sure I should say! When you are a fighter you get into situations that could get a bit messy.
I know three ex-boxers who were working at nightclubs when drunk guys have swung at them and they have instinctively avoided it and punched the guy. Head have hit concrete and they have been done for manslaughter and banged up.
None of them meant to hurt anybody – they had just been trained to do it every day and ended up getting locked in a cage.
I am fully aware of the dangers of what I can do with my hands. I would rather avoid a situation, even if it makes me look a bit of a d***.
WHAT ABOUT YOUR 11-YEAR-OLD SON CASSIUS – WILL HE FOLLOW IN DADDY’S FOOTSTEPS?
Boxing? No. He likes tennis and I am glad.
He has been beating me since he was six. I never used to let him win. When he beat me, he knew he beat me properly and took great pleasure in that.
You are either born to fight or you are not and you figure that our pretty early. I am relieved that Cassius does not have that. I am glad he wants to hit a tennis ball and not somebody in the face.
IF HAYEMAKER PRODUCTIONS PUT ON A COMEDY EVENT, WHO WOULD TOP THE BILL?
Paul Chowdhry, Dave Chappelle and Dominic Frisby. Those three – but they would have to battle it out as to who would headline.
FAVOURITE PIECE OF SPORTING MEMORIBILIA
A signed glove by Muhammad Ali and one signed by his coach, Angelo Dundee. I campaigned to get Ali knighted, but sadly he died before we could get it through. We had hundreds and thousands of signatures.
LAST TIME YOU CRIED?
It was not that long ago – a personal thing, so I can’t really talk about it. Thankfully it was good tears, nobody died. I have also cried watching films. The Notebook really got me. I was told 100 per cent it would make me cry and it got me twice.