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SPORT

Why Jake Paul is perfect for the sport of boxing

Words by Nathan Irvine

YouTube hits

Hardcore boxing fans have likely read the headline and are currently pacing up and down in anger, ready to jab me through their screens. Hearing YouTuber-turned-pro boxer Jake Paul is perfect for the sport is hard to stomach, especially for the purists. I’m a fight fan too, and although Paul’s previous career is a somewhat mystery to me due to a generational gap, I can still see why boxing as a whole can benefit from him.

See, this isn’t about his skills. Jake Paul can obviously box and is currently training with all the right coaches and sparring partners to know how to handle himself in the ring. The quality of his opponents on the other hand is, well, questionable.

Nate Robinson was an NBA star and got his clock cleaned by Paul in 2020. After that freak show, armchair fans wanted to see him go up against a real fighter so up stepped highly decorated MMA fighter, Ben Askren.

To the layperson, this was going to be a tougher test for Jake Paul. But the promoters and Paul’s people had studied the tapes and rightly noted that Askren’s reliance on grappling meant his striking game was non-existent.

Lo and behold, Paul placed a picture perfect overhand right on Askren’s chin and it was game over within a round and the world still awaits the downfall of the loudmouth Jake Paul. But this is the whole point.

Fight club

This shrewd move to put Ben Askren in with Jake Paul had everyone - young and old, fight fan or YouTube viewer - talking about the matchup. Boxing as a sport has struggled for popularity since the early 2000s. Aside from bouts involving Tyson Fury, Anthony Joshua and Canelo Álvarez, boxing has been in decline in terms of viewership.

Pay-Per-View fights have been the main concern over the last couple of decades, with fans reluctant to stump up the cash for a) underwhelming cards or b) fighters they’ve never heard of. But this one-two combo of Jake Paul and Triller is just what the sport needs.

For those that don’t know, Triller started life in 2015 as a video sharing app. In 2020 it started working with Mike Tyson and put on his comeback bout against Roy Jones Jr. that ended in a draw. The popularity of this then saw Snoop Dogg come onboard to help host boxing events under the Triller Fight Club label.

As part of these events there would be live musical performances from the likes of Justin Bieber and The Black Keys, behind-the-scenes access showing celebrities and fighters mixing and the Snoop D-O-double G on comms duties.

To the naysayers, this was bad for boxing business - a circus with Jake Paul as the clown in the centre of it was ridiculing the hard work its athletes had put in. But to the visionaries, this was an opportunity to revitalise boxing’s PPVs with a fresh new festival approach that had mass appeal as it has a little bit of everything. So successful is the business model of Triller, it punched up the more established competition to win the rights to promote the highly anticipated pro boxing match between Teofimo Lopez Vs. George Kambosos. This is no mean feat.

Snoop Dogg with Jake Paul post-fight

Rising up

In Jake Paul, Triller has the ideal person to transform how people view boxing. Like him or loathe him, Jake Paul's name is being tied tighter to the sport. Whether you want to see him KO a former contestant from The Apprentice or receive a beatdown from an actual pro boxer, Jake Paul is who's lighting up social media right now. The pantomime villain that you can’t take your eyes off.

Whether he will end up facing a seasoned pugilist next or manage to coax longtime target Conor McGregor into a scrap, we’ll have to wait and see. But in terms of putting boxing back into the limelight again - for better or worse - Jake Paul is perfect for raising the sport's profile. And this is the suckerpunch that hurts longtime boxing fans the most.

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