YouTuber Jake Paul was no shrinking violet when it came to boasting about the sales of the Triller Fight Club pay-per-view he headlined on Saturday alongside former MMA champ Ben Askren.
Less than one full day after his first round stoppage of the dad-bodded Askren, Paul was on social media claiming the event had generated 1.3 million buys and $65 million in revenue. Then, a short while later, he updated those numbers to 1.5 million buys and $75 million in revenue.
If true, that would make the Paul-Askren card the highest-selling boxing card since November’s Mike Tyson-Roy Jones Jr. exhibition. Those figures would also make it the biggest selling pay-per-view of an officially sanctioned pro fight since Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor in 2017 (and, if we’re counting real, “real” fights, the biggest since Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao in 2015).
However, there have already been some calls of BS regarding Paul’s claim. Several sources have placed the actual number of buys at around 700K, something that would still be an outstanding sales figure and make it the biggest selling boxing pay-per-view since Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder 2 in February of 2020.
Whatever the real sales figures are– and reliable numbers may still be several days away– people are paying attention to the business possibilities weaved into a card like Saturday’s. Notably, some of boxing’s heavy hitters and biggest in-ring money generators have to be soaking this all in.
A lot was made in some media circles of Mayweather putting in serious road work following the Paul-Askren bout. There was a big jump to conclusion that “Money,” who was tied to a since-postponed exhibition against Jake Paul’s brother, Logan– was “getting in shape” to take on Jake Paul next.
Of course, the 5-division champ hitting the road and working out at the gym are hardly evidence of him training to meet some new challenge. Mayweather is a gym rat who is always working out, always keeping near fighting shape.
But Mayweather does like big-money scores for light work, as evidenced by his $9 million score for blasting Japanese featherweight kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa in 2018. Why WOULDN’T he fight either of the Paul brothers if Triller (or any other company) makes him a good offer?
And that takes us to Mayweather arch-nemesis, Manny Pacquiao.
Lots of fans and supporters ascribe a sense of nobility to Pacquiao’s boxing existence that they don’t to Mayweather’s. But the reality is that EVERY fighter is looking for a quick, easy money score– especially someone like the 42-year-old Pacquiao who’s got one foot out the sport’s proverbial door and hasn’t had a boxing payday since the summer of 2019, when he decisioned Keith Thurman.
By all accounts, the Filipino icon and multi-division world champ has already pursued fluff, celebrity exhibition-style encounters against Conor McGregor and lightweight rising star Ryan Garcia. And, as we pointed out with Mayweather, why WOULDN’T he fight either of the Paul brothers if Triller (or any other company) makes him a good offer? Really, what would he have to lose, with the good will and respect he’s established among his extremely loyal fan base, by fighting ANYONE for the right price?
These celebrity boxing shows and legends exhibitions have set a precedent. Several are already in the works for later this year. Some would argue that, at least when it comes to active fighters, that precedent is a dangerous one.
Why pursue a tough fight or even a “real” one for that matter, if a half-speed exhibition against a soft touch can bring you a nice, hefty purse that might even surpass the one you’d get for a legit fight?
In Mayweather’s case, he’s been retired for about four years now. Pacquiao, though, is still active and still talking the talk of an active fighter. But either Hall of Famer going the faux-fight route would be a waste and a disappointment.
Stars like Mayweather and Pacquiao need to pass the torch to the next generation of fighters. This is the tradition of boxing and, really, the only way the sport has built its future stars. Mayweather piggybacked off of Oscar De La Hoya. Pacquiao piggybacked off of Oscar De La Hoya as well as Marco Antonio Barrera.
By wading ankle-deep into the shallow pool of the exhibition fight scene, both legends would be cashing out on their name value at the expense of the sport that allowed them the opportunity to become legends in the first place.