Okay, I admit that the title of this article is fully crafted as a clickbait ploy.
Boxing “purists,” however, are certainly up-in-arms over YouTuber Jake Paul bum-rushing the boxing world and becoming, in just 4 pro fights, a bigger, more marketable, and more highly-promoted star than most established boxing champions. But me, personally? I have zero issues with the guy taking what’s given to him.
If we were to go deep into this subject, my problem is with the boxing business establishment that made it possible for a novice fighter to walk into the sport and immediately be a bigger star than 97% of the established pros.
You see, Jake Paul has the advantage of NOT being promoted by boxing promoters, who’ve, almost universally, been lazy and short-sighted in how they promote the sport and its athletes. The modern boxing promoter only sells to his own diminishing base these days and is solely fixated on short-term, easy-money network payouts at the expense of long-term growth. Paul, meanwhile, brings in the mainstream audience, an audience boxing promoters stopped trying to reach a long time ago.
But I digress…
The 24-year-old Jake Paul (and his older brother Logan Paul, who’s also a boxing attraction right now) is a burning-hot red pepper flake in the eye of boxing squares and he’s not shy about squirting in some hot mustard to irate the agony.
This week, in hyping his pay-per-view rematch with former UFC champion Tyron Woodley, Paul revisited the idea of one day facing current pound-for-pound top dog and unified super middleweight champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and, in doing so, sent the boxing media into a tizzy.
“I will fight Canelo 100 per cent,” Paul told media. “Look at this guy Avni Yildirim [who Canelo beat earlier this year]. His nickname was ‘The Turkish Warrior’. He got to fight Canelo. He sat down in the corner and quit. He didn’t throw a punch. Why can he get the fight but I can’t? I’m bigger than that guy. I’m stronger. It’s not about how long you’ve been doing something. It’s about how right you have been doing it.”
Well, to be a stickler, Yildirim got the fight because he was the WBC’s top contender for Alvarez’s title. If you disregard the WBC’s rankings (and you wouldn’t be wrong to do that), you could argue that Yildirim was a 23-fight pro when he got the Canelo fight with several regional and minor international titles under his belt. And, if all of that doesn’t work for you, at least Yildrim had beaten some actual boxers– something Jake Paul has yet to do.
Yep. For all the bluster and big talk, Paul has yet to beat an actual boxer who actually boxes professionally. The YouTuber’s first pro fight came against fellow YouTuber Ali Eson Gib. His second pro fight came against retired NBA star Nate Robinson. His third pro fight came against retired MMA fighter Ben Askren. And Tyron Woodley was pro fight no. 4. Tommy Fury, younger brother of heavyweight champ Tyson Fury, was supposed to be the first “real” boxer on his ledger, but injury forced Fury to withdraw from the fight, opening the door for a Paul-Woodley rematch this Saturday.
To be fair, Paul has shown some pretty good skills for a novice and he seems to be taking his boxing training seriously. But, still, his very existence at the top of the boxing business food chain is, for some, an insult to the full-time “serious” boxers out there and, for others (like me), a testament to the failure of boxing’s bossmen to build real, crossover stars.
So, for those reasons, seeing this guy beat would probably be happy times for boxing fans.
But, then again, maybe boxing could use a guy like Paul and his mainstream appeal to try and bring some new blood to the sport and some new, young, and energetic fans to the “real” fight game. That is, of course, if boxing’s promoters would even know how to facilitate that bridge to cross over new fans.
Until then, Jake Paul will keep cashing his checks and enraging boxing “purists” with his very existence.