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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

One of the greatest boxers of all time will return to the ring this weekend — to fight a social media star.

Driving the news: 44-year-old Floyd Mayweather will fight 26-year-old Logan Paul in an exhibition bout on Sunday at Miami's Hard Rock Stadium ($49.99 on Showtime PPV).

The fight isn't sanctioned, so while knockouts aren't prohibited, no official winner will be declared. There will be eight three-minute rounds, no judges and no headgear.

  • In case you weren't fully convinced that this is a celebrity circus, Chad "Ochocinco" Johnson will make his boxing debut on the undercard.

The backdrop: Paul and his brother, Jake, have turned to boxing as a way to capitalize on their internet fame.

  • Jake knocked out former MMA fighter Ben Askren in April exhibition that earned him a reported $10 million, and his next foe will be former MMA champion Tyron Woodley.
  • Over a million people paid to watch Logan's first fight with fellow social media star KSI on YouTube, and their 2019 rematch was one of DAZN's biggest events of the year.
Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

The big picture: While some believe these bouts can exist alongside "real boxing" without doing any harm, others think it makes a mockery of the sport, turning a prideful profession into nothing more than content.

"My goal is to be the biggest entertainer on the planet. And putting on big fights and big shows as a freelance fighter is a good way to do that."
Logan Paul, via ESPN

Between the lines: The rise of these sideshow bouts was driven by the social media age, but it's also a result of "real boxing" failing to entertain.

  • "There is more money in boxing than ever. There are more outlets eager to televise it. But the biggest boxers are not fighting each other," writes SI's Chris Mannix (subscription).
  • "Fighters demanding fights has been replaced by fighters asking for them if the promoter can make it and if it won't tick off a network too much."

Final numbers ... As boxing purists feared, celebrity bouts are grabbing more attention than top-tier fights. That's according to a May survey of 2,072 American adults conducted by The Harris Poll and provided exclusively to Axios.

  • 40% heard about the Mayweather-Paul fight
  • 30% heard about the Paul-Askren fight
  • 29% heard about the Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder rematch of their prior heavyweight title fights
  • 23% heard about Canelo Alvarez boxing Billy Joe Saunders for the Super Middleweight titles
  • 19% heard about Josh Taylor boxing Jose Ramirez for the unified Junior Welterweight Title

Go deeper

6 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Democrats brace for staredown over paid family medical leave

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Senior House Democrats are braced for battle with the Senate over whether paid family medical leave — a key priority for progressives — will be included in President Biden’s final budget reconciliation bill, lawmakers and aides tell Axios.

Why it matters: Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has indicated he wants to cut the program to reduce the bill's price tag. “Paid family and medical leave must be in the final package,” Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, told Axios on Monday.

39 mins ago - World

Poland showdown is EU's Jan. 6 moment, top official says

Didier Reynders. Photo: Thierry Monasse/Getty Images

Poland and Hungary have forced a moment of reflection on the European Union — similar to the one in the U.S. after the Jan. 6 insurrection, EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders told Axios.

What he's saying: "During many years, we have had in our minds that it was granted that if you are a member of the EU, of course you apply the rule of law; you have full respect for democracy, fundamental rights and so on — maybe with some concerns but with a real intention to adapt your legislation to be in full compliance [with EU law]," Reynders said.

The E-commerce shopping spree

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Retailers have gotten really good at selling stuff online. So much so, investors want them to separate from the business units that do just that.

Why it matters: Spinning off these crown jewels may jeopardize both the physical and e-commerce sides of the companies in the long run by breaking the benefits of hybrid operations, analysts say.