Boxing fans looking to watch the Mike Tyson and Jake Paul fights without dishing out the pay-per-view fee could find many options on social media, but experts warn that those advertising free streaming links are not always what they appear.
Saturday's highly anticipated event will feature the former heavyweight champion's return to the ring for an exhibition of sorts, as he and fellow legend Roy Jones Jr. face off in an abbreviated bout that will include no knockdowns or traditional scoring. The card is co-headlined by YouTube star turned boxer Jake Paul, who is looking to make a name for himself against former NBA player Nate Robinson.
As The Sporting News reported, the event is available on a number of television and streaming outlets for a $49.99 fee, but there are many across social media advertising free streaming options instead. A YouTube search for free streaming links returns many results, including one channel that had more than 800 viewers in the hours before fights were scheduled to start at 8 p.m. There were many others taking to Twitter to share links to places to stream the match online, including some that directed to Reddit pages created within the last day.
But clicking could be a risk, experts have warned. High-profile boxing matches often bring a rush of sites claiming to offer ways to watch live while bypassing the entry fees. This is especially prevalent in boxing given the more restricted — and expensive — nature of the sport.
Earlier this year, the highly anticipated match between heavyweights Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder brought a surge of pirated streams, The Independent reported.
"As with other recent high-profile fights, hundreds of pirated streams are expected to spread across platforms like Facebook and Twitter, as well as on dedicate forums on sites like Reddit," the report noted.
But Joseph Woodruff, a threat intelligence analyst at security firm EclecticIQ, told the British newspaper that many of these offerings are really a front for cybercriminals to access the personal information of boxing fans.
"Fake streaming sites and redirects are a popular tactic used by cyber criminals, and fans searching for different ways to watch the Fury vs Wilder fight taking place in Las Vegas this weekend need to be aware of them, even if they look legitimate," he warned at the time.
He went on to say that some websites could allow hackers to gain access to a viewer's computer, allowing them to steal payment information or install ransomware that ultimately costs much more than the pay-per-view fee.
With anticipation for the Tyson and Paul bouts high — especially in a world with fewer sports alternatives due to the COVID-19 pandemic — the number of outlets offering illegal streaming links appears to be equal or greater to what existed for the Fury and Wilder rematch.