Jake Paul’s young boxing career was a calculated spectacle.
Paul, a social media influencer turned fighter, has meticulously carved a path for himself that has garnered widespread interest and attention, regardless of his skill, regardless of his opponent.
Since turning to boxing a couple of years ago, 24-year-old Paul has had an unbeaten resume of victories over another YouTuber, a former NBA player and two former MMA masters.
Paul’s next performance will be a rematch of his August fight against Tyrone Woodley, the former Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight champion, whom Paul defeated by split decision. Paul and Woodley will meet on Saturday night at the Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida, as part of Paul’s all-around deal with Showtime Sports, which will sell an eight-round pay-per-view fight for $ 59.99. The fight will be fought at 192 lbs.
The main event will feature Puerto Rican boxer Amanda Serrano, a seven-division world champion, who will face World Boxing Association titleholder Miriam Gutierrez in the 135-pound division in a 10-round bout in lightweight.
After creating his name in boxing with sassy talk and gimmicks not unlike the ones he used to create likes, comments and followers, Paul was looking for legitimacy when he and Woodley met in Cleveland a few months ago. Some observers felt that the fight did not live up to expectations, and Paul admitted that it was not his best performance. However, he nearly sold the Cleveland-based Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse and gained significant social media attention.
“I think I’m one of the faces of boxing, just because I do it differently,” Paul said at the time.
Paul’s next challenger gave him another chance to demonstrate just how serious he takes the sport beyond his marketing antics. But this opponent, Tommy Fury, who is 7-0 with four KOs early in his career and is the brother of heavyweight superstar Tyson Fury, pulled out of the fight a couple of weeks ago due to a chest infection and a fractured rib.
“It’s funny how these ‘professionals’ like Tommy Fury, who is considered a pro boxer, get sick, break a rib and don’t want to fight,” Paul said Thursday at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tampa. “I was fighting the disease. I fought the pain. You have to go there and do your job. “
On the table in front of him was a belt that said Most Valuable Boxer and Paul’s name on the front. A black mask covered most of his face, allowing only his eyes to see.
“They were like, ‘Oh, now you have Tyrone Woodley.’ No problem, ”Paul said confidently. “That’s why I put on a ski mask. Are they going to give me a big bag so I can go over there and beat up that guy I already beat? This is a bank robbery. “
Many thought that 39-year-old Woodley should have knocked out Paul in August. Although this was Woodley’s professional boxing debut, he entered the fight as a more experienced fighter, having fought 27 professional mixed martial arts fights during his career. In the fourth round, Woodley landed with a large right hand that swayed Paul and tripped over the ropes. But Paul stayed in the fight.
“Maybe I could do more. Perhaps I could be more active, ”Woodley said, adding,“ This is a young child. He never fought for long. This was the first time he had gone over two or three rounds. His chin was not hit that often. He can take the blow. “
The first time they met, they agreed that the loser in the battle would get a tattoo that said they loved the winner. This time, Paul said he added a clause to Woodley’s contract that he would receive an additional $ 500,000 if he knocked him out.
“Rate hike,” Paul said.
Jake’s older brother, Logan, is also a YouTuber who dabbled in boxing, including an eight-round exhibit against Floyd Mayweather that went the distance and ended unsuccessfully.
In keeping with the unconventional spectacle of the evening, the undercard will include a crossfight between former NBA player Frank Gore and former NBA player Deron Williams.
Gore, 38, spent a 16-season career in the NFL, mostly with the San Francisco 49ers, to score the third highest scoring in league history. Despite the interest of NFL teams to return for a possible 17th season, Gore turned his attention to boxing, a sport he says he has always loved.
Williams was a three-time All-Star contestant, winning two Olympic gold medals with the United States. He was selected to the 2005 NBA Draft Lottery, the same year he brought Illinois to the NCAA Men’s Championship game. Injuries have limited him throughout his career and he retired in 2017.
Williams and Gore will battle it out in a four-round heavyweight bout in their professional boxing debuts. Their contractual weight is limited to 215 lbs.
“Football and boxing are completely different things. When you watched me play, I was never hit. This is why I was able to hold out for so long. I didn’t play in the corners, ”Gore told reporters. “Now, as far as boxing is concerned, I’m going there with guys who have had 300 amateur fights, 10-0 as pros. So I can’t just dodge all the shots they do because they have more experience in the ring. “