To boxing purists, this evening’s fight between Tommy Fury and Jake Paul is an abomination. But to the wider sporting public and beyond, this fight has caught the imagination and grabbed the spotlight in a way few could have imagined.

These two fighters are, if I’m being generous, journeymen; if I’m being less generous, they are charlatans.

Yet they have managed to make their fight this evening in Saudi Arabia one of the most talked about clashes of the year and both will make a fortune from it thanks to the pay-per-view sales.

The profile of the boxers is unusual to say the least. Fury is known almost exclusively for being world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury’s half-brother. He is at best an average fighter and certainly can’t touch his elder sibling in terms of talent or success. The 23-year-old may be unbeaten but his eight victories have come against nobodies.

Paul, whose career in the public eye began as a Youtuber, now calls himself a boxer but his career record in the ring is similarly unconvincing with his six victories coming against a mix of fellow Youtubers, a basketball player and MMA fighters-turned-boxers.

So, how on earth have this pair managed to get themselves into such a high-profile fight that it is being sold for £19.95 on pay-per-view, has been trending on social media for the past week and is more talked-about than many world- title bouts?

Well, the hype is due, in large part, to the trash-talking and seemingly genuine dislike they have for each other. Paul, in particular, has a Conor McGregor-esque charisma that has resulted in a disproportionate interest in his fights, despite his flimsy CV.

What is perhaps the more pertinent question is what it means for the future of boxing that one of its highest-profile fights, not just in the UK but globally, is between two average, at best, fighters who are contesting nothing but bragging rights.

Many “real” boxers are becoming increasingly wound-up at the profile and platform being afforded to the pair, especially Paul.

Former super-middleweight world champion Carl Froch released a video on his social media a few days ago calling Paul a “performing clown” and promoter Frank Warren has said that no one should “call this boxing”.

Carl Frampton, a former world champion in two weight classes, was, initially, annoyed by the attention the pair attracted but he now admits the appeal of the fight, particularly outwith boxing, is unusual and perhaps even unprecedented.

So why has a fight between two average boxers generated such incredible levels of debate?

The question is should sport only be worth watching if it is between the best in the world?

We all know the answer is no. If it were, no one would watch the men’s Scotland national team play football yet Hampden Stadium is, normally, packed when they are in action.

Lower league football would never have a soul watching, the same applies to rugby, cricket and so many other sports that attract crowds despite being some way from showcasing world-class action.

Sport’s worth watching, whatever the level, when you are emotionally invested.

And what Fury and, especially, Paul, have managed to do, is create a product that people care about, even if they don’t care about boxing.

If I were a boxer who had dedicated my life to the sport, and been punched in the face more than a few times along the way, and was forced to sit back and watch these two amateurs rake in fortunes, I’d be livid.

But creating this circus, and the millions that will come along with it, is a skill in itself, and one they have demonstrated impressively.

I know I’ll be watching tonight, even though the boxing will no doubt be dross. So will many thousands of others.

It remains to be seen if they will get any plaudits for their boxing ability, but they do deserve credit for creating a product people are desperate to see.

It might not be sport for the purists, but there will be plenty of people watching who don’t care about that.


When the new tennis world rankings come out tomorrow, Novak Djokovic will be one step closer to cementing himself as the greatest of all time.

Having last week equalled Steffi Graf’s record of most weeks at No.1 in the world when he clocked up 377, he will break the record tomorrow.

For context, Roger Federer was on top of the rankings for 310 weeks, Rafa Nadal for 209 and John McEnroe a more modest 170.

What is striking about Djokovic’s run, however, is that his total has been accumulated despite competing against two of the all-time greats, Federer and Nadal, for top spot whereas Graf had far less competition throughout her decade at the top.

There will never be a definitive answer to the question of who is the greatest, but Djokovic is edging closer to convincing the majority of observers he is the one.

Grand Slam wins, of which Djokovic has 21, are certainly imperative when comparing the best, but the consistency required to be the world’s No.1 for the equivalent of more than seven years, particularly when up against Federer and Nadal, is an achievement that cannot be matched.