Chants of “twist his dick” reverberated through the Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida on Saturday as two grown men punched each other with everything they had. You’d expect to see this madness, performance, and a blood-dripped mat covered in energy-drink-sponsored branding at an MMA or UFC event. But this wasn’t your usual machismo spectacle. It was an influencer boxing event, where all the net revenue went to charity.
Creator Clash, created by YouTuber Ian “Idubbbz” Jomha, returned for its second year, bringing first-time (and some returning) fighters into the ring for a good cause.
“I hope that it at least does as well as it did last year,” Jomha, told Passionfruit in the week leading up to the event. “I just hope that everyone appreciates all of the work that we put into it because it’s going to be way more than just a boxing show.“
Clash that like button
The first Creator Clash came from an idea in 2019 when creator boxing was just on the rise. To Jomha, the allure of not knowing if a creator could box or not and proving the audience wrong was what enticed him. The actual winner of the fight came secondary to the performance, giving fans a good show all around.
“You can be anyone, and people are going to want to tune in to see how you do because maybe you surprise people,” Jomha said.
From there, he collected creators from all across the content spectrum, including YouTuber Nathan “Dad” Barnatt and AB “Starkilla” Ayad of the H3 Podcast—both of who returned for this year’s bouts. The clash was a success, with Jomha saying in a May 2022 video that they raised $1 million for the Alzheimer’s Association, the American Heart Association, and the Healing Horse Therapy Center. Though Jonha lost in the ring to YouTuber Dr. Mike at the $1 million for charity in the first event, he achieved his fundraising goal and was ready to do it again.
Putting on the show again this year was a must and felt like a full-time job, with Jomha working with his wife and Creator Clash co-founder Anisa to handle a lot of the planning and training. His content schedule slowed to a crawl, with all of his time being spent practicing in the gym or planning.
“It’s super stressful and probably consumes more of our time than we should,” Jomha said.
To make this event better than the last, Jomha brought parts of the old production team together, including producer and account executive for Real Good Touring Justin Tracey. Working with digital creators, Tracey’s company helps set up real-life events to help creators meet their fans.
“This year, we tried to keep all the things that worked about last year’s event,” Tracey told Passionfruit. “I think everyone’s a little bit more engaged and willing to stand behind the event as a fighter, being a part of it. And from a production standpoint, we’re going bigger.”
The fights were as fantastic as they were hectic. Michelle Khare, who makes videos trying extreme challenges like Marine boot camp and the FBI Academy, just barely squeezed in a win against Canadian chess player Andrea Botez. Lee “Leonhart” Steinfeld failed his fighting gym battle, losing out to streamer Ethan “CrankGamePlays” Nestor.
Everybody lost their minds when WWE star John Hennigan took on Epic Meal Time’s Harley Morenstein in a match that had Morenstein fly out of the ring and turn into Hennigan’s punching bag. Other streamers like Jack Manifold, Jaelaray, and Ali “Myth” Kabbani, squared off in the ring.
All of this chaos and mayhem culminated in the main event, with YouTubers Ian “IDubbbz” Jomha and Alex Wassabi competing in a four-round cruiserweight match sanctioned by the state of Florida.
Paychecks and pay-per-views
Creator Clash has always been a fairly unique piece of the influencer boxing sphere. The usual badmouthing back and forth on social media to drum up excitement and Pay-Per-View sales is relatively absent, with good nature play being one of the major components.
Influencer boxing has become the norm, with KSI fighting professional boxer Joe Fournier in May and Jake Paul up against MMA fighter Nate Diaz in August 2022, both of whom have been trash-talking on social media about future fights in 2023. Last year’s Creator Clash did have a few half-hearted ribs, but overall the tone was less serious and bloodthirsty than these.
“Given how successful it was last year with almost no badmouthing opponents, I feel like that’s a very sustainable and good path to go down,” Jomha said. “The hands are going to do the talking.”
The paychecks are also smaller when compared to their flashier alternatives. In June 2021, Logan Paul was expected to receive $14 million for an exhibition match against Floyd Mayweather Jr., though Paul claims he still hasn’t been paid. Creator Clash fighters earn a flat fee of $20,000 and get a small percentage of the overall revenue (though all net revenue) goes to charity. Since these fighters have to spend money away from their job of creating videos and need to get a trainer, it’s a way to give them some form of compensation.
“It’s really important that all of our fighters get matched up with professional boxing trainers, but we also understand that that comes with a pretty large price tag,” Tracey said.
This year’s Creator Clash ended with a tearful Jomha saying he would fight one more time. Creator Clash has cemented itself as the place for influencers to box who just want to test out getting punched in the face in front of a crowd. It allows these creators to collaborate on content and meet in the physical space in a way they normally wouldn’t.
Only time will tell if Creator Clash 3 will exist or live up to the hype, but needless to say that these influencers and fans will never forget this experience.