Triller’s Ryan Kavanaugh explained to Heavy in an exclusive interview why his company decided to move from producing a nostalgia-based event such as the Mike Tyson vs. Roy Jones Jr. pay-per-view last year to the upcoming superstar showdown between YouTuber Jake Paul and ex-UFC fighter Ben Askren. The billionaire businessman and famed Hollywood producer said it all comes down to Paul being the perfect “crossover” superstar for Triller’s next “crossover” event.
“When I look at Jake, I actually think he’s a crossover…” Kavanaugh said.
Moreover, Kavanaugh believes Paul vs. Askren will create “this nice crossover of boxing, social media, and MMA, all in one fight.”
Paul vs. Askren will headline the Triller’s Fight Club pay-per-view event on April 17.
You can watch the entire interview below, or read more about Kavanaugh’s thoughts and opinions below the video.
Kavanaugh Touts Paul’s Boxing Skills
Kavanaugh believes Paul has already displayed enough skill inside the boxing ring to be labeled a “real boxer”.
Paul is 2-0 with 2 KOs. People might debate who Paul can and can’t beat, but there’s no question he’s become a legitimate professional fighter.
“Maybe he won’t win against the biggest pro. Maybe he will. But he’s a boxer, and he’s had two knockouts,” Kavanaugh said.
Moreover, Kavanaugh suggested the sport of boxing could actually use more people like Paul right about now, if anything, simply because the 24-year-old American’s fanbase is so young.
“He’s got a tremendous following,” Kavanaugh said.
But it’s not just that Paul appeals to so many of today’s young people. It’s also why he appeals to them.
“He represents everything that people want to be. Kids have a dream of becoming social media stars and crossing over into other stardom,” Kavanaugh said.
So while Paul has become one of the most controversial figures in combat sports today, the polarizing things he says and does on a regular basis are also the very things that help him sell fights.
“He’s polarizing. If you love him, if you hate him, people want to see [him fight],” Kavanaugh said.
Fight Club: Paul vs. Askren
Kavanaugh said all the data he’s seen suggests Paul vs. Askren will be the perfect headliner for Triller’s next Fight Club event.
Forget what you think you know about traditional boxing pay-per-view cards. Last year’s Tyson vs. Jones card proved to the folks over at Triller that fans were way more interested in one thing over any other factor.
“What we took out of the last event was that people want entertainment,” Kavanaugh said.
Don’t believe him? Tyson vs. Jones sold 1.6 million pay-per-views in November 2020, and that easily made it the best-selling fight of the year.
But Kavanaugh said the data he’s been shown says Paul vs. Askren on April 17 will outsell that card.
“When we watched our digital buys real-time just grow, grow, grow, and the chatter on the Internet…what we realized was that’s what [boxing] has been missing, the younger audience,” Kavanaugh said.
Moreover, the relative fight game outsider said his lack of overall experience in the sport might actually turn out to be a big benefit. While that data set is a bit short on that idea right now, even if it’s not the case, it does at least keep Kavanaugh taking bold strides into previously uncharted territories.
“I don’t know what I don’t know. That both makes me somewhat dangerous and at the same time I can’t be told I’m wrong because I don’t know what I’m wrong about,” Kavanaugh.
‘Crossover’ Megafight on April 17
Kavanaugh believes Paul vs. Askren will be a successful event because it combines two polarizing figures from three different cross-sections of society into one “crossover” mega-event.
“To me, it creates this nice crossover of boxing, social media, and MMA, all in one fight,” Kavanaugh said.
It won’t hurt that Askren seems to be just as polarizing as Paul.
“You’ve got two guys that the world either wants to see win or lose. But they want to see it,” Kavanaugh said.
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