By: Hans Themistode
Ben Askren laid back into his chair, folded his hands, and turned on his television. The former Mixed Martial Arts star was eager to see how the matchup would unfold between his good friend and former UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley and former opponent, social media star turned professional boxer, Jake Paul.
As the two exchanged fists for eight rounds on August 29th in Cleveland Ohio, Askren revealed how he scored it. While he believes his judgment was fair, he acknowledges that Woodley may have gotten preferential treatment due to their friendship.
“I might be biased but I had it 5-3,” said Paul during a self-recorded video. “He was more aggressive, he was stalking and he was landing more effective punches. Jake definitely out volumed him but I did not think the volume was all that effective.”
Although Askren believes Woodley should have been given the victory, it was Paul who stretched his professional boxing record to 4-0 on the night. As Askren watched closely, his entire thought process surrounding Paul began to change.
Just four months prior, both Paul and Askren met in the ring in Askren’s boxing debut. While technically, Paul had more experience, having knocked social media star Ali Eson Gib and former NBA player Nate Robinson, Askren believed that the years he spent in the cage would offset the head start Paul had in the sport of boxing.
Ultimately though, Askren was wrong. Like Paul’s previous two opponents, the social media star bounced Askren’s head off the canvas in the first round before picking up the knockout victory. Still, even with the end result, Paul did nothing to earn the respect of Askren.
“I wanted to knock Jake Paul’s head off but it didn’t happen. I knew I wasn’t very good at boxing, I told all of you that I’m not a very good boxer but I just think I’m better than he is. When he got a knockout on me, I was like whatever, he didn’t earn my respect.”
Picking up a victory against Woodley, however, has changed Askren’s mind. It’s one thing to pocket a win against a fighter who readily admits that boxing isn’t something he excels in, it’s something else entirely when Paul is able to grind out a close victory against someone with the credentials of Woodley, albeit in an entirely different sport.
“I have a lot of respect for Tyron’s striking ability and I think Tyron won the fight but either way, it was a really highly competitive bout. I think it’s pretty evident, and the only way you’re not going to think this is if you really hate the guy, but it’s pretty evident to me that he’s worked pretty hard at this and he’s pretty tough. He took some pretty big shots from Tyron and kept fighting. He’s earned my respect for sure.”
Send this to a friend