It’s hard to tell whether YouTuber Jake Paul is delusional, dumb, or a genius new age marketer. Maybe it’s a mix of all three and the 24-year-old Cleveland native just happened to luck into a fertile boxing hustle in which to facilitate his unique skill set.
Whatever the case, he’s here…in boxing…and he’s already proving himself to be a bigger draw than most world champs. It’s still kind of cringy, though, to hear him blather on about just how important he is to combat sports, especially considering that his Fight Club pay-per-view on Triller last Saturday generated anywhere from 700K to 1.5 million buys (depending on whether you believe his assessment of sales or that of anonymous industry insiders), something which would make him, technically, the biggest draw in boxing outside of Canelo Alvarez.
Paul, who was guaranteed a base purse of $690,000, will end up easily earning deep into the seven digits if sales rumors are legit. Whatever his final tally is, however, it’s significantly more than anything taken in by a fighter in just his third pro fight.
“In Conor McGregor’s third fight in the UFC he got paid $80,000,” Paul said in a YouTube interview after his one-round KO of former MMA champ and UFC fighter Ben Askren. “In Floyd Mayweather’s third fight he got paid $7,500…And by the way no one in this room can name who they fought. I will pay you 50 grand if you can.”
Well, yeah. All of that makes sense, though. Neither Mayweather nor McGregor came into their fighting careers with an established fan base in the tens of millions and plenty of mainstream press coverage. When it comes to marketability, Paul has a considerable head start on any typical pro fighter starting his career.
So, what does that mean for his future star power in the fight game?
“This is what my management has texted me, by the way: ‘We do this right and you will be the biggest pay-per-view star in history,’” Paul said. “‘You are the most impactful, most important boxing professional in history.’”
But prizefighting professionals– those not looking to make some money from latching on to Paul’s hustle– are generally not all too pleased with his waltz into combat land.
“Why don’t you go fight a f*****g boxer? What the f**k do these guys keep talking to UFC guys for? I’m gonna have to slap them with another f*****g legal letter, these f*****g idiots. Go talk to f*****g boxers. What are you doing?,” UFC President Dana White told Yahoo Sports.
“Boxing continues to go like this [points his hands downward]. This guy is playing this thing perfectly and boxing’s in such a bad place. They’re doing a really good job at sucking in people to buy into this thing. Good for him.”
Some other prizefighting professionals, though, are seeing the massive financial potential in something like Jake Paul brings.
Floyd Mayweather, whose February exhibition against Paul’s older brother Logan [the lesser fighter of the brothers, but, perhaps, the bigger YouTube star] fizzled out, has picked the idea back up.
On social media, after Jake Paul-Ben Askren sales numbers started floating about, the retired five-division world champ implied that the exhibition with Logan Paul was back on and that the choice of host city is down to five options– Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Dallas, or Atlanta.
The Athletic also reported that a weight stipulation will be built into the Mayweather-Paul contract with the much larger Paul held to a 190 lb. weight cap and the welterweight Mayweather limited to 160 lbs. max.
Much more interesting than weight issues, though, is the fact that Mayweather-Paul will reportedly be a Showtime PPV, scheduled for June 5– directly up against Triller’s next pay-per-view Fight Club card featuring Teofimo Lopez-George Kambosas in the main event and an Evander Holyfield-Kevin McBride exhibition co-feature.
What this means is that Jake Paul and Triller, for all their success at working their boxing hustle, have also picked up some enemies in competition.
It’ll be interesting to see just how long the YouTuber can professionally box non-professionals before his shtick gets old, before he gets pressured into a fight with someone who can beat him up, or, maybe, before someone out there plays the same hustle better than him.