Fight by fight, Jake Paul strikes for credibility
Jake Paul didn’t have a quiet moment to think about it.
Between traveling to Miami to watch his older brother, Logan, fight Floyd Mayweather Jr. in June, training in Puerto Rico for a fight on Sunday, and sparking controversy on social media, Paul has been busy. He hasn’t had time to assess his hold on combat sports since he turned to boxing in 2018 or how it has changed the landscape since then.
“I think sometimes when you think it’s good, but sometimes it’s bad,” Paul said in an interview. “So now I’m just with my head down. The train is going 100 miles an hour and I’m not slowing down for anyone.
In just three fights, Paul, 24, went from a rookie to a main draw, albeit controversial. Die-hard fans despise his rise, with some claiming his large number of social media followers and stardom – rather than years of traditional hard work – got him into the ring.
He also has enemies in the mixed martial arts community: Dana White, the president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, and his star Conor McGregor and other prominent fighters have insulted him. Paul has said he enjoys his role as an adversary, and it is one he seeks to continue.
On Sunday, he takes on Tyron Woodley, the former UFC welterweight champion, at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Paul’s hometown of Cleveland. This is Paul’s first multiple-fight deal with Showtime, which will sell pay-per-view combat for $ 59.99. The scheduled eight-round boxing match will be contested at a weight of 190 pounds.
Woodley, 39, offers Paul his toughest challenge yet as a fighter. But if Paul wins, he said it would prove he can compete with top talent.
“I’m going to show that even the top ranks don’t have hands,” said Paul, referring to their fighting skills. “I will continue to exhibit this. I did it once and I will do it again.
Paul and his brother are leading a new trend in combat sports that blurs the lines between competition, entertainment and spectacle. In June, Logan, 26, fought Mayweather in an unsanctioned eight-round exhibition boxing match at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami. The details seemed outrageous at first: Elder Paul had only fought once before, while Mayweather, considered one of the greatest boxers of all time, posted an impeccable 50-0 record.
But Logan survived until the final bell against most predictions, not even falling to the canvas.
Some fans on social media have expressed disappointment, saying the fight was rigged. Mayweather historically fought with a defensive and elusive style rather than seeking knockouts, but few expected Paul, even with a weight advantage of nearly 35 pounds, to withstand eight rounds with him.
Still, Paul’s keen boxing acumen was probably irrelevant. The fight saw more than a million pay-per-view purchases, crushing Showtime’s servers so drastically that they crashed, forcing the company to offer a refund to customers.
“It’s a new era, a new era, a new chapter in boxing,” said Paul. “There is a new way of doing things. There are new children in the neighborhood.
Paul and his brother gained fame through social media, starting with Vine, the now defunct video-sharing app, and then relying on Instagram and YouTube. Jake now has nearly 17 million followers on Instagram. After winning his first professional fight in January 2020, his stock grew rapidly after blasting retired NBA player Nate Robinson and retired mixed martial arts fighter Ben Askren, both by knockout. He quickly signed a contract with Showtime and programmed Askren’s friend Woodley as his next opponent.
“It puts on exciting events,” Stephen Espinoza, president of Showtime Sports, said in an interview. “He gets a lot of attention, runs big companies and people find him entertaining, both in and out of the ring. It’s a recipe for the type of programming we want to deliver.
Espinoza initially said he was skeptical but quickly warmed up to signing Paul after some discussions. He said he could see Paul’s dedication to boxing, like his workouts in Puerto Rico and his knockout power. His level of competition increased with each fight, with Woodley being a legitimate threat.
Woodley first fought the UFC in 2013 and became the 170-pound champion three years later. He defended the belt four times but suffered four straight losses. He left the promotion this spring after his contract expired and said he wanted to try a career change in boxing. After Askren’s fight, the confrontation with Paul made sense, Woodley said. He started training with Mayweather and said he was happy to focus only on hitting rather than all of the other mixed martial arts fighting disciplines, such as jiu-jitsu.
“I don’t smoke with the UFC,” Woodley said in an interview. “I had the chance to go there, make a fortune and let the world know who I am. Now is the time to get the machine going.
Tensions between Woodley and Paul increased after the bout was announced, peaking this week when a member of Paul’s entourage insulted Woodley’s mother shortly after a press conference.
All of this feeds into the Sunday night intrigue. Espinoza said that regardless of the outcome, he expects Paul to continue fighting quality enemies. Paul agreed. On Instagram, he posted a list of potential opponents including boxer Canelo Alvarez, McGregor and Kamaru Usman, the current UFC welterweight champion. Paul said he doesn’t care who’s next.
“We’ll see who’s ready to sign on the dotted line,” Paul said. “As fast as we can make these deals, it’s as fast as we can get these fights.”