The lead-up to Sunday’s fight in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia, between Tommy Fury and Jake Paul looks as if it were ripped out of boxing’s oldest playbook.

Fury said Paul is not skilled or of any class. John Fury also boasted about his son sending sparring partners to hospital. Paul has called Fury “delusional” Fury claimed that he did not understand what he was getting himself into.

The two men have exchanged verbal insults about past defeats and how they will meet up in the ring. Every boxer believes he can wipe out his opponent and swears his hatred for each other. It is routine stuff for boxing — the hype and manufactured insults that come out before any big fight to juice interest and pay-per-view sales.

The boxing-as usual routine hides the greater stakes in the fight. Its role is to provide a glimpse into the expanding drama. Saudi Influence on professional sports, and possibly a referendum YouTube The boxing phenomenon.

Paul spoke out last week in an interview and gave us two reasons why we should fight for our freedom. Saudi Arabia.

“When I came here for the W.W.E., the fan base was electric, man, and they showed out. And for me, I’m an entertainer,” He was referring to professional wrestling. It was practical too. The The fight had been postponed two times already, the most recent because Fury (British-born) couldn’t obtain visa for entry to the United States.

“So, we had to do this fight overseas, and it was really like a decision between Manchester or Saudi. And it just made way more sense to do it in Saudi.”

The The latest event in the wave of entertainment and sports events is fight. Saudi Arabia. The W.W.E. The country hosts two events each year. Formula 1 has now an annual Saudi stop. Two of the former heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua’s past four fights were in the country. Saudi Arabia will host FIFA Club World Cup December.

The country’s sovereign wealth fund has also made large investments in sports abroad, bankrolling the purchase of the soccer team Newcastle United, in the English Premier League, and helping create LIV Golf, a challenger to the PGA Tour.

Ostensibly, these investments are part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030 plan, which aims to diversify Saudi Arabia’s economy beyond oil by developing sectors such as recreation and tourism.

How Saudi The obvious reason Arabia is able do what it does: make money. The Kingdom has pledged to spend $2 billion on LIV, and Newcastle has been hailed as the best team in the Premier League. Saudi Formula 1 is hosted by Arabia for $60 Million paid $60 million to host one of Joshua’s fights and, according to ESPN, was willing to pay $150 million for a fight that never materialized between Joshua and Tyson Fury, who is Tommy Fury’s older half brother.

For critics: Saudi Arabia’s sports spending spree is not a genuine attempt to diversify its economy, but a means to paper over the country’s human rights abuses, a phenomenon known as sportswashing.

The fight also intersects with what has been boxing’s third rail for the past year: the involvement of Daniel Kinahan, who is wanted by the U.S. government and is accused of being the head of an Irish organized-crime group.

Kinahan was a broker for Tyson Fury’s purchase of Kinahan’s business. The two were also photographed together in Dubai last year. Kinahan was a broker for the transaction. Fury-Joshua fight That would likely have happened in Saudi Arabia.

Paul and Tommy Fury were to have a fight last year in New York. But Fury could not get onboard a plane that would allow him to fly to America. Tyson Fury was also denied entry to the United States due to his connections with Kinahan. according to the Sunday WorldAn Irish outlet.

The biggest question will come down to whether Paul can box and whether Tommy Fury can challenge him.

Logan and Paul became well-known in the middle of 2010s for their social media videos. However, Paul’s unexpected switch to boxing in 2018 was surprising.

“YouTube is like this weird, dark place, and I was just someone who cared so much about views and attention and, like, trying to make a good video every single day,” Paul spoke about the shift. “It ruined my creativity.”

Paul’s foray into boxing has been viewed as a stunt by many, but he has now won six fights as a sanctioned professional. They were up against an assortment of former mixed martial artists and a former N.B.A. A fellow YouTuber and point guard

Fury is a somewhat more legitimate professional boxer, though his career is similar to Paul’s — but in reverse. After he became a professional boxer in 2018, Fury took a break to work on the reality-TV program. “Love Island” Then, he returned to the ring. Fury has an 8-0 record, and while a number of those fights were just to pad his record — his first five opponents had combined to win 12 fights and lose 174 — they were at least all against boxers.

The Bob Arum promoted Fury as a “novice” professional, while Fury’s promoter, Frank Warren, said, “It’s not a lot of fights as a pro, but he’s had eight fights, and he’s obviously got amateur experience.”

Paul’s appeal as a boxer to his legion of young fans is that the fights are real and that his calls to fight the best boxers in the world, like Saúl “Canelo” Álvarez, are not the ramblings of a social-media star but the aspirations of a real athlete. A loss to Fury — the 350th best cruiserweight in the world, according to BoxRec — could dent that image and that of other YouTubers-turned-boxers, like Logan Paul and KSI.

You might be surprised at what could make you as helpful or harmful. YouTube Top Rank and ESPN reached the same conclusion about boxing as a promotional company called ESPN.

A number of high-profile boxing exhibitions have been presented in recent years by Triller, a TikTok competitor, and Paul’s previous fights were done through his own promotion company and Showtime Sports. Top Rank promotes top fighters such as Tyson Fury or Shakur Stevenson. ESPN will stream the fight.

“Jake Paul and Tommy Fury have fan bases that extend far beyond the world of boxing,” said Todd duBoef, the president of Top Rank, in announcing his company’s participation, signaling the reason for its interest in promoting the fight.

Top Rank as well as ESPN can both look at the data and see if it is relevant. YouTube Boxers and world champions can live side by side. It is up to Paul Fury and his followers to spend $50 each to see the fights.

Kris Rhim Contributed reporting