Paul vs. Fury: How Influencer Boxers Can Punch Up Fight Viewership

Paul vs. Fury: How Influencer Boxers Can Punch Up Fight Viewership
Photo by Attentie Attentie / Unsplash

The Feb. 26 boxing match between Tommy Fury and Jake Paul is one of the best examples yet of how social media clout can turn into real-world results. The fight, which took place in Saudi Arabia and was available to watch via pay-per-view, drew a global audience — and you can be sure the people watching weren’t just boxing enthusiasts. One reason it was so hotly anticipated is due to the influencer status Fury and Paul both hold, something the World Boxing Council publicly recognized before as well as after the fight.

Paul made a name for himself as a YouTube star years ago, while Fury has been boxing professionally since 2018 and was a contestant on season five of Love Island UK. And not only that, their rivalry has been going on for years, with two previously scheduled fights having been canceled for various reasons only fueling the fire.

Fury may have a bit more experience under his belt, but Paul is punching higher when it comes to social audiences: According to CreatorIQ, he has 70.1 million followers across social media platforms, compared to Fury’s 5.5 million. The highly publicized fight spurred social audience growth for both: Paul saw a modest increase of 0.43% in followers compared to the week before the bout, while Fury saw a notable 10% growth.

Instagram is the most popular platform for both, and while Paul boasts 22.3 million followers there compared to Fury’s 4.9 million, Fury has him beat for engagement, with an engagement rate of 7.26%, which CreatorIQ considers “excellent,” compared to Paul’s “good” 1.48%.

Instagram stats for Tommy Fury as of Feb. 28, via CreatorIQ

Both used their social followings to promote the match and drive tune-in, with Paul in particular not pulling any punches: Mere days before the fight, he escalated the rivalry, posting a video to Twitter and Instagram utterly ripping into Fury, proclaiming “This is it, you’re going to be retired from boxing after this.”

And earlier in the week during an interview, Paul referred to Fury’s girlfriend Molly-Mae Hague as the “breadwinner” in their relationship. Well, from a social angle he’s not wrong: Hague, an influencer herself, has 12.3 million followers across social platforms, and an “excellent” Instagram engagement rate of 11.5%, per CreatorIQ — far beyond either Fury or Paul.

Of course, in the end Fury emerged victorious with a split-decision win after eight rounds. But that’s certainly not the last of it: There was a rematch clause in the contract, and Paul already said he intends to make it happen.