Up until his nasty rivalry with Jake Paul, Tommy Fury was best known for being the kid brother of heavyweight champ Tyson Fury and for being a reality TV star in the UK.
And, yeah, after his rivalry with Jake Paul is settled old news, he STILL may be best known for being the kid brother of the heavyweight champ and a reality TV star in the UK. But he’ll also be able to add this main event tussle with the (in)famous YouTuber, influencer, and former Disney actor to his public profile.
The 23-year-old Fury (8-0, 4 KOs) will be fighting Paul (6-0, 4 KOs) February 26 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia atop a pay-per-view card that will be aired by ESPN+ PPV in the United States. This will be his third try at making this high-profile fight, after injury and visa problems killed off two prior attempts.
Realistically, Fury-Paul is nothing more than a battle of novice pros that would be buried deep on a mid-level undercard if not for the outside-of-boxing fame of both competitors. But things are as they are and there IS a certain amount of heft to this pairing. So much so, obviously, that it’s headlining a big-time pay-per-view.
Like a “real” main stage-worthy battle, there’s a lot riding on the outcome of this fight.
Jake Paul needs a win to keep this boxing hustle of his going. His ability to sell fights and keep getting big fight dates from established networks depends on his status as a winning fighter to a great degree. Even if the wins come against former UFC stars and pseudo-celebrities, it’s important that he maintains career momentum as a fighter actually headed somewhere and doesn’t become known as just a celebrity boxing sideshow act.
A win for Tommy Fury could do a number of things for his career. It could get his foot in the door of a lucrative growing celebrity boxing circuit, picking up a good flow of fight dates against retired MMA fighters, ex-pro athletes, and C-list celebrities. It could also, however, launch a run as a “legit” boxer working his way up the ranks and further developing his skills. Both paths will only help his career as a reality TV star. But none of that happens if he’s beaten and embarrassed by Paul February 26th.
Fury is certainly talking the talk of a fighter who wants to handle business.
“He’s fought old men…50-year-olds, 40-year-olds, wrestlers, NBA stars, he’ll probably fight Tiger Woods after me, I don’t know. What can you make to that?” Fury told Sky Sports. “He’s in trouble…I’m gonna teach Jake Paul a lesson on the 26th of February…I’m gonna knock Jake Paul out very early…There’s no way in the world this fight goes to points.”
Jake Paul, meanwhile, knows the kind of pressure Fury will be facing in what amounts to a “must win” fight with career respectability and family pride on the line.
“He’s going to get knocked out by a Disney star – plain and simple. That’s it. End of story,” the 26-year-old Paul trash-talked in a face-to-face meeting last Saturday at Wembley Arena, before the Artur Beterbiev-Anthony Yarde light heavyweight title bout. “You’ll see, bro. You’ll see who the real professional boxer is… Tommy has so much to lose. His family is going to disown him when I knock him the f**k out. Plain and simple, that’s it. Sorry Tyson, I love you, but it’s over for your brother.”
Paul would double-down on the rhetoric later on.
“I think he’s a big talker, but I don’t think he believes the things that he’s saying,” Paul told media. “He’s the Fury family puppet, right? Tyson and John both were real fighters, real boxers, real dogs, and Tommy feels like he has to live up to that so he’s saying the things that they say, but I don’t think he believes it. I don’t think he believes in himself and he’s going to be in for a rude awakening and he’s going to hate this sport after I’m done with him.”
Fury’s older brother Tyson would also issue a word of warning, basically underlining the importance of his kid brother taking this opportunity seriously.
“He can’t just go to the ice cream parlor and not train. He’s got to really focus and have the right sparring and everything. He’s got to take it really seriously,” Fury told Sky Sports.
“He’s got to do the job when he’s in there…There’s big pressure, a big stadium, top of the bill and all that sort of stuff.
“It’s going to be interesting to see if Tommy can handle that pressure, which I know he can, but it’s going to be interesting to see him do it in front of the world.”