By: Sean Crose
YouTube influencer Jake Paul is now also a spokesman for the spot of boxing. In fairness, Paul is a professional who takes the sport seriously. With a record of 2-0, the Cleveland native has at the very least proven that he has a powerful shot and is cool under fire. His victory over the NBA’s Nate Robinson last November was highlight reel stuff. Still, a knockout over a basketball player isn’t the same as a win over Mairis Briedis, the cruiserweight division’s reigning kingpin (Paul fights at cruiserweight). Therefore, Paul has decided to up his game…by next fighting a mixed martial artist who failed at his much publicized foray into the UFC.
On April 17, Paul will square off against Ben Askren, in the mixed martial artist’s debut in the prize ring. A location has yet to be set, but Triller, the force behind Mike Tyson’s recent exhibition against Roy Jones (Paul knocked out Robinson on the undercard) will present the battle as a pay per view event. And it stands a very good chance of being successful. Paul is nothing if not wildly popular – and since many top boxers refuse to face off against one another – there’s a void to be filled.
“These MMA guys,” ESPN quotes Paul as saying, “just ‘cause they throw punches, doesn’t mean they can box. This is why I’m so confident in my ability to destroy these guys.” Paul is also quoted arguing that boxing is far superior to mixed martial arts, the sport Askren is emerging from. “They’re throwing elbows, kicks, wrestling, jiu-jitsu, the list goes on,” says Paul. “Boxing is an art. MMA is a brawl.” Although it’s always nice to have someone defend the sweet science, putting down other sports isn’t necessary. Also, Paul isn’t exactly Muhammad Ali. Then again, it’s not like this is just some hobby for the 24 year old. There may not be an explosive talent at play here, but there Paul appears to have absorbed some professional fundamentals.
He’s also developed a knack for rude behavior that can be off putting even by the standards of this insanely crass day and age. People actually became defensive of Conor McGregor – of all people – after Paul insulted the looks of McGregor’s fiancé in order to lure the Irishman back into the ring. Paul may possess many things, but depth doesn’t appear to be one of them. Still, as McGregor and Floyd Mayweather have taught a generation of young fighters – bad behavior is lucrative. The question is, can Paul fight as well as McGregor and Mayweather have?