YouTube star Logan Paul has one of the biggest followings in social media, but he wasn’t always the beloved creator he is now.
He will fight Floyd Mayweather on June 6 at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, which is expected to be a massive pay-per-view event despite controversy over the fight’s mismatch of experience and size.
Paul began growing his following using short-form video platform ‘Vine’, and transitioned to making daily vlogs on YouTube where he has amassed over 22 million subscribers.
His rapid rise, along with brother Jake, caught the attention of Hollywood producers and he scored acting roles in Law & Order, Baywatch and even appeared on his brother’s Disney Channel show.
His net worth hit a reported $18million, and while garnering daily video views in the millions he moved into a massive mansion in Calabasas, California.
Paul was beginning to dominate the YouTube space, despite some minor controversies, and had just wrapped filming on his first major film, a remake of ‘Valley Girl’ by MGM Studios, when his career hit a major road block.
While travelling in Japan to celebrate the New Year at the end of 2018, Paul decided to make a video in the Aokigahara ‘suicide forest’ at the base of Mount Fuji.
The forest was infamous for the number of suicide attempts that took place, with some years recording as many as 200 attempts .
Paul had planned to film a vlog where he and friends camped in the infamous forest, but within moments of touring the area had found a man who appeared to have died by suicide.
Instead of switching off their cameras and deleting the footage, Paul instead decided to continue with his vlog, and uploaded it on December 31st.
The crass video, which also showed Paul laughing and making jokes, gained 6.3m views in the first 24 hours it was out, but the backlash was so severe that the video was removed and Paul posted multiple apologies before stopping his daily posts.
A number of big sponsors dropped the YouTube star, his big screen debut in ‘Valley Girl’ was pushed back over two years, and a Change.org petition to have YouTube terminate his channel garnered over half a million signatures.
He posted an apology to YouTube saying: “I’ve made a severe and continuous lapse in my judgement, and I don’t expect to be forgiven. I’m simply here to apologize.
“What we came across in the woods that day was obviously unplanned. The reactions you saw on tape were raw, they were unfiltered. None of us knew how to react or how to feel. I should’ve never posted the video.”
Paul took a short break from posting on YouTube before returning with a suicide prevention advertisement, where he pledged to donate $1m to suicide prevention charities.
After a slew of other controversies saw his channel demonetized, Paul was beginning to slip from public consciousness, until he was called out by fellow YouTube star JJ Olatunji, commonly known as ‘KSI’.
Following a knockout win over Joe Weller in a white collar boxing event at the Copper Box Arena in London, Olatunji took to the microphone to challenge the Paul brothers to a boxing match, which was later accepted.
The Pauls agreed to fight the Olatunji brothers, with Jake facing KSI’s younger sibling Deji in the co-main event of their August 28 fight night on pay-per-view.
KSI v Logan Paul was set for the Manchester Arena and the Pauls began training with veteran coach Milton ‘Supreme’ Lacroix, who was known for coaching Shannon Briggs to the world heavyweight title in 2005, and his ability to turn low-level amateurs into golden gloves winners.
Paul fought KSI in Manchester, with a reported 1.2m people watching live on YouTube in an amateur white collar bout, where headgear was worn as well as larger gloves.
The fight was ruled a draw, but the YouTube stars agreed to rematch the following year, which ultimately ended up taking place as a professional bout.
Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Boxing promoted the event at the Staples Centre, which aired on Sky Sports Box Office in the UK and DAZN in the US.
Paul lost the bout after a contentious decision, but given the success of his recently launched podcast ‘Impaulsive’, and fans forgiving him for his past misgivings, the Ohio native began to re-emerge as a mainstream celebrity within American culture.
Speaking about his experience with internet ‘cancel culture’, Paul told the Hollywood Reporter: “Good luck trying to cancel me.
“It’s so easy for anyone to be like, ‘Logan Paul just ended his career. He’s done.’ But the only person who will ever decide whether that’s true is me.
“Like, if I sleep for the rest of my life, maybe. But, like, dog: I love this s***. This creating? It’s my passion.”
He vowed to return to combat sports, and held meetings with Bellator MMA president Scott Coker in Florida during the 2020 Super Bowl week, but didn’t opt to fight in 2020.
While his brother Jake forged a 3-0 professional career fighting the likes of MMA legend Ben Askren, NBA star Nate Robinson and YouTuber AnEsonGib, Logan opted to take some time to engage in training, while producing podcasts and video content.
But in December 2020, Paul announced that he would be taking on boxing great Mayweather, with an initial February date planned before it was rescheduled for June 6.
He has since returned to television, appearing on hit reality show The Masked Singer, as well as appearing as part of WWE SmackDown in the lead-up to WrestleMania.
While he is expected to be handily beaten by Mayweather when they square off, the comeback from one of the most hated celebrities in the world to fighting on a main stage is remarkable for a man aged just 26.