By: Sean Crose
So Jake Paul has now been defeated in the prize ring. The young man’s professional record currently stands at 6-1. Not bad for a newer boxer, but an indication of a need for improvement. In this day and age, where a single defeat is looked at as a career death knell, people will inevitably argue that Paul is now finished in the prize ring. That’s nonsense of course, though he clearly has a ways to go if he wants to truly be a successful fighter. Whether or not the wealthy and famous Paul will decide he wants to put in the effort to up his skill set remains to be seen.
The one thing that’s obvious right now is the fact that Paul, although processing talent, guts, and power, has considerable limitations. While fighting Tommy Fury – no decorated slugger himself – Paul looked like a brawler throwing down with a pro. His raw talent served him well against former UFC greats, but the UFC is different from boxing in innumerable ways, mainly that it is indeed closer to “real fighting” than boxing is. George Foreman would likely have demolished Muhamad Ali in a “real fight.” The two men met in a ring, however, and a quick trip to YouTube will show how that match turned out.
While boxing in it’s raw and grueling youth was essentially pure fighting, it pretty much morphed into a specialized – and wildly popular – sport in 1892 when James Corbett, who had never fought with bare knuckles, lifted the heavyweight championship from brawler John L Sullivan by employing things like footwork, defense, and ring elusiveness. Since that moment, the pure tough guys have essentially played second fiddle to the skill masters. A skilled boxer can certainly knock an opponent senseless, but that boxer can also focus on avoidance while in the ring. The UFC mentality, in which brawling is legitimately taken to the level of sport, isn’t particularly conducive to avoidance.
And that’s a good reason why Paul has been able to defeat former UFC greats: Because he’s been able to unload on them…that and the fact that they have essentially been boxing novices. Oh, and lets not forget they were past their primes even in regard to their own sport.
On Sunday, however, Paul faced in Tyson Fury’s younger brother someone who knew how to avoid him, someone who knew how to hold effectively when unable to get into a prime position to strike, someone who, unlike a crossover from the UFC, could focus on the task at hand without having to constantly remind himself that he couldn’t kick or go for a takedown. In other words, Paul faced a dyed in the wool boxer. And right from the opening bell it was clear that he was facing someone different from his previous opponents.
Not that Paul did poorly, or that Fury performed magnificently. These were two men with under ten fights to their resumes apiece who, corny though it might seem, let it all out in the ring, and who entertained those who had watched live in Saudi Arabia or elsewhere on pay per view. Ultimately, though, Paul found himself getting outclassed. People wanted to see what would happen if the man fought a “real boxer” and now they know.
Keep in mind, though, that the kid didn’t do half bad for himself. It’s not like he had no business being in the ring. It’s simply worth asking how much Paul can improve. And no one will know the answer to that unless the man decides to keep fighting.
Or, rather, boxing. There is that fine distinction between the two, after all.
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