Like him or loathe him, Jake Paul is here to stay and with a whole lot more he wants to do in Boxing.
YouTube sensation-turned boxer, Paul (3-0, 3 KOs) claimed his third professional victory on Saturday night, knocking out former UFC fighter, Ben Askren inside the first round at Mercedes Benz Stadium, Atlanta.
The 24-year-old landed a huge right hand that sent Askren crashing to the canvas and despite beating the ten count, the referee called a halt to the clash, deeming the 36-year-old in no position to continue after 1.59 of the bout.
Paul, who claimed he was an “elite fighter” in the build-up, dedicated his victory to his late bodyguard ‘Shadow’, who passed away in the weeks prior to the fight, as well as revealing on his YouTube channel that the fight, which was broadcast on Triller Fight Club pay-per-view had done 1.5m buys and generated $75m.
Paul, who beat former NBA star Nate Robinson last November, receives unprecedented criticism each time he steps into the ring, perhaps due to a feeling that he’s in an undeserved position, raking in a reported $690,000 for this fight alone, whilst fighters a decade deep into their careers will never receive purses of that magnitude, despite years of sacrifice, compared with a three-fight novice in Paul.
However, in an ever-changing world, ‘The Problem Child’ who has amassed over 20m subscribers on YouTube is part of a new crop who have built their following to such a degree in other fields that their worth to networks and promoters, rightly or wrongly become a difficult proposition to resist, as demonstrated with the reported pay-per-view figures.
Paul to his credit lived the life of an athlete, training day in, day out with coach and former Cruiserweight world title challenger, BJ Flores and sparring with multiple professionals in preparation, but was coy on his next move in the aftermath.
“I told you all I’m a real fighter. I don’t know how many times I’ve got to prove myself that this is for real,” Paul said post-fight.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 18, 2021
“I’m going to do whatever I want, I feel like I’m living in a dream right now.
“I don’t know what’s next for me, I’ve fought three times, talked a lot of s—, I’m going to enjoy my life for a second.”
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It’s difficult to match Paul due to the size of his profile and audience, coupled with his lack of experience means he is unlikely to face anyone with a significantly smaller following with more pedigree, so who could he face next?
Undefeated Light Heavyweight, former Love Island star and brother to WBC Heavyweight champion, Tommy Fury has been consistently linked to a clash with Paul.
The pair shared a social media back-and-forth, mocking each other over a series of videos last month which drew huge attention.
The ‘Gypsy King’ said he would welcome a showdown between his brother and the YouTube star, believing it would be an even fight, due to the lack of amateur and professional experience Tommy has with just five professional fights to his name.
“I’ma plant the seed right now, Tommy Fury vs me, Michael Hunter vs Tyson Fury all on the same night,” Paul told ES News post-fight.
Fury responded on social media, saying he was “ready to give the people what they want” by fighting Jake and his promoter Frank Warren has previously stated he would be open to making the fight.
I’m ready to give the people what they want. @jakepaul
— Tommy Fury (@tommytntfury) April 18, 2021
A clash between the pair would receive large interest, particularly in the UK and on social media, where ‘TNT’ has built a following of over 3m, as result of his stint on Love Island and would answer the question marks and expectations for him to face an actual professional boxer, having faced a YouTuber in AnEsonGib, a former NBA star in Nate Robinson and now a retired UFC fighter.
Paul has long-desired a meeting with UFC star Conor McGregor and said on ES News that he was keen to face the Irishman.
The American spent a period goading ‘The Notorious’ at the start of 2021, claiming he had sent an offer of $50m to his team with proof of funds for a fight and then mocked the 32-year-old after his shock stoppage loss to Dustin Poirier in their rematch at UFC 257 in January.
McGregor, arguably the most marketable star in UFC history is set for a trilogy with Poirier this summer and it remains to be seen if he would accept the challenge of Paul, in what would be his second professional boxing match after losing to former pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr in 2017, in a contest that did 4.3m pay-per-view buys.
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The former two-weight UFC world champion has yet to really acknowledge Paul’s call-out but has said on record he had no issue with the YouTuber fighting.
Paul may have to fight a few more times before McGregor sees worth in fighting him.
To secure a McGregor clash, Paul may have to take on common opponents and he swiftly gave his prediction on a potential fight with former McGregor foe, Nate Diaz.
“Nate Diaz gets KO’d in 3,” Paul posted on Twitter.
Diaz shared two battles with McGregor in 2016, winning the first by second round submission, before losing the rematch by majority decision, in a bout which become the highest-grossing UFC pay-per-view in history at the time.
Nate Diaz gets KO’d in 3🤐
— Jake Paul (@jakepaul) April 18, 2021
The 36-year-old has not responded to Paul’s latest vow and has a fight coming up next month in the UFC against Leon Edwards to contend with first, although has previously responded to him on social media in the past and back in February said he would not rule out a future clash.
Diaz told ESPN MMA on a possible fight with Paul, “Nah, not at the moment. But at some point for sure.”
Jake Paul u need your ass beat for free u spoiled fuck u can’t really fight dumbshit your gonna end up with your ass whooped for real somewhere talking like that 👊🏼
— Nathan Diaz (@NateDiaz209) December 15, 2020
Paul claimed he had held talks to face his compatriot, but suggested it would more likely be for 2022.
Another MMA fighter in Dillon Danis is keen to face Paul and called him out after he knocked out Askren.
Danis, a training partner of McGregor’s has history with the Ohioan, who threw toilet paper at him during a bizarre exchange last year and the pair have been linked with a fight dating back to when Jake’s brother Logan Paul faced KSI in November 2019 with the New Jersey native claiming he had been offered $4m to face him.
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“It’s on 100% send me the contract let’s do this I’m going to put this c*** out cold,” Danis posted on Instagram, before writing a cryptic message on Twitter which read, “let me save the mma community.”
Danis holds a record of 2-0 in Bellator MMA, although Paul and trainer, BJ Flores seem to have distanced themselves from a potential meeting, with the 24-year-old stating on ES News, “that guy’s not worth my time.”
Whoever Jake decides to face next, it will be a lucrative showdown for both parties and for those on the undercard, with former 140lbs champion, Regis Prograis earning a reported £615,000 from his victory over Ivan Redkach on Saturday.
There’s no doubt that Paul’s activities have divided the Boxing world, but what is not in doubt is the viewership and awareness he is bringing to the sport, as his status continues to rise as one of the biggest drawers.