There’s a very good chance that on Saturday, a day on which ESPN is broadcasting a middleweight world title fight and Showtime is airing a super welterweight world title fight, the guy who will make more money than any of those boxers is Dillon Danis. In case you’re not one of Danis’ 3.5 million followers on Instagram or 1 million followers on X (formerly Twitter), he is a one-time MMA fighter who went 2-0 against low-level opposition in Bellator but hasn’t fought since June 19, 2019.
These days, he seems to specialize in being in the middle of seeming street brawls, talking trash to anyone who crosses his path and otherwise creating disturbances. He’s the guy whom former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov was going after when Nurmagomedov leaped over the Octagon following his win over Conor McGregor at UFC 229 in Las Vegas on Oct. 6, 2018, to begin a brawl on the arena floor.
At this stage, Danis’ job, and seemingly his passion, appears to be simply annoying people.
He’ll box Logan Paul on Saturday on a DAZN pay-per-view card at AO Arena in Manchester, England. Since the fight was announced on July 30, he’s managed to get a judge in New Jersey to issue an injunction against him for posting photos of Paul’s fiancée, Nina Agdal, online; he’s choked out a woman with an OnlyFans account and he threw a microphone at Paul on Thursday following the news conference that hit Paul in the face and cut him.
All that did was make the fight bigger.
Floyd Mayweather put that into practice around 2004 or so. In the first eight years of his incredible boxing career, he was clearly a superb fighter who was known as “Pretty Boy” Floyd. But he was never happy with his pay and he was derided as a guy who couldn’t sell tickets.
When he was “Pretty Boy” Floyd, Mayweather would dress in a three-piece suit wearing a giant fedora and holding a machine gun to appear as a gangster. He fought brilliantly but wasn’t recognized as a draw.
He changed it up and turned himself into “Money May,” and created a character that resonated. He went on to become the biggest pay-per-view seller in boxing history and earned more money than any fighter ever.
He did the same thing Danis is doing now, with the only difference being that Mayweather regularly fought and Danis does not.
Back when pro wrestling passed itself off as real, the heels did whatever they could to antagonize the fans, whether it was pulling the trunks of an opponent, taking an opponent down by pulling his hair or using a “foreign object,” outside of the referee’s sight, but visible to everyone else.
Pro wrestling has changed dramatically over the years, but that plan has worked as reliably as looking west to see the sunset.
Danis has seen that, and now has social media at his disposal to aid and abet his plan. And so, full credit to him, he’s discovered a way to make money from fighting while not actually fighting, avoiding in the process getting punched, kicked, elbowed or kneed or having someone trying to choke him unconscious. It’s also a way to get notoriety, which leads to a larger social media presence, which leads to more income.
Danis has pulled out of numerous fights and gotten an extraordinary amount of media coverage for doing it.
Given Danis’ propensity for pulling out of fights, it’s no guarantee that he actually gets in the ring with Paul. Paul and Danis cleverly put a clause in the fight agreement in which Danis pays a $100,000 penalty if he doesn’t fight without a recognized physician saying he’s physically unable. They then brought ex-UFC star Mike Perry in to serve as the so-called backup if Danis doesn’t fight.
If you like quality boxing, this card’s probably not going to be for you. Tommy Fury, who beat Logan Paul’s younger brother, Jake, on Feb. 26 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, will fight KSI, another social media star, in the other featured bout. Going into the Jake Paul bout, Fury, the half brother of lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, had faced opponents with a combined 24-176-5.
Fury was billed as Jake Paul’s first opponent who was truly a boxer, but with a record like that, no one who knows anything about boxing ever took him anywhere close to seriously. But hey, by defeating Jake Paul, who was 6-0 at the time, he managed to improve his opponents’ record to 30-176-5 at the time he fought them.
Fury, though, has the last name, and his father, John, is even more unpredictable than Johnny Rodz, the WWF star from the 1970s. On Thursday, for no seeming reason, John Fury was throwing combinations vigorously and then head butted a wall. This was after he said he’d only fight again if he could get a bout with Mike Tyson. At 57, “Iron” Mike is two years younger than “Big” John.
So what we have here are a bunch of men with highly recognizable names who can’t fight but who will charge you $55 for the privilege of watching them.
Buy with your eyes open, knowing that this isn’t going to be anything close to legitimate boxing. It’s entertainment and, well, while it may not appeal to a lot of people, it’s going to appeal to others.
Hopefully, all the fighters pocket a pile of money and they go home to their families safe and injury-free after putting on a fun show.
If that happens, everyone will come out a winner.
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