Paul vs Askren weigh-in video - LIVE and FREE stream

January 29, 2020; Miami, FL, USA; Jake Paul steps on the scale to weigh in for his Matchroom Boxing USA bout at The Meridian at Island Gardens in Miami, FL. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Boxing USA

Will Jake Paul Ever be Taken Seriously as a Boxer?

For some boxing fans, Youtuber-turned-fighter Jake Paul is not a serious boxer. No matter how high his profile and how loud he talks, it seems he cannot win over a section of the boxing world. But, given his latest victory, over former UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley, is this fair?

Paul’s explosive entry into the boxing world has undoubtedly caused a stir with both fans and boxing bettors. Anyone who has checked out the odds on Betsafe UFC will have noticed the upsurge of interest around his fights. It has been great news for promoters and bookmakers.

The first fight between Paul and Woodley, back in August 2021, produced controversy when Paul hung on for a points-based win despite being rocked back in the fourth round. However, taking out his opponent with a one-punch Knockout this time around obviously shows an improvement.

Although his hopes of being a world champion may be a tall order for the time being, with Mairis Briedis having two cruiserweight titles and pound-for-pound king Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez set to join the category, Paul can claim to be worthy of a little more respect than he currently receives.

Though we don’t know everything he does every minute of each day, the YouTuber has shared a number of his daily activities with the world on social media and looks to lead the life of a pro boxer. For a start, he seems to appreciate the sport of boxing despite his loudmouthed comments and attention-grabbing antics (and he would hardly be the first fighter to take that approach). The videos he publishes online indicate he regards training seriously and is making a legitimate effort to learn boxing skills.

It is also worth noting that Woodley is not just any ordinary boxing chancer. Kamaru Usman deposed him in March 2019, he had successfully defended four UFC titles. He was regarded as among the best MMA welterweights of all time. Regardless of just how far Woodley has slipped since his zenith inside of the cage, Paul wasn’t really facing a nobody when they met in December.

Yet there is a strong case for the prosecution. Ultimately, Woodley is not a boxer by trade, or a cruiserweight, for that matter. Like Paul’s former opponent Ben Askren, who he knocked out in the first round, Woodley is recognized mainly for his wrestling background. If Paul was looking for a well-known UFC opponent with first-line boxing skills, both Nate Diaz and Jorge Masvidal would have been more testing alternatives as both are genuine strikers.

Another legitimate point often raised against Paul is the age of people who oppose him. Nate Robinson, his second opponent, and Askren are 37 years old, while Woodley is even older at 39 years old. Again, suppose Paul is only interested in fighting veterans for the time being but still wants to build a reputation within the sport. In that case, there are plenty of cruiserweights against who he could line up.

Ilunga Makabu, who was defeated by Tony Bellew for the WBC title at Everton’s Goodison Park, and Thabiso Mchunu, who lost to Oleksandr Usyk in a 2016 bout for the WBO title, both suit this description. Then there’s Badou Jack, the former light heavyweight champion, currently fighting at 200 pounds. Each of those fighters would have offered a more conventional and convincing opponent.

Some of the more scathing criticisms of Paul go further in suggesting that there are legitimacy issues over his fights. In August, the split decision in the first Woodley fight was contested. And the camp of Tommy Fury – with whom Paul was set to fight until Fury’s injury – has accused Paul of not cooperating with random drug tests before his previous fights.

He nor Woodley was subjected to random testing before last month’s rematch. Although Paul has pointed out that the Florida Athletic Commission did carry out drug testing during the week of the second fight, Woodley has stated that he wasn’t required to take a drug test going into the Ohio event.

Nevertheless, there is no doubt that Paul’s exploits have raised the profile of boxing and have brought in more viewers and more money to the game, something that cannot be underestimated. And, at least on the surface, his efforts in Florida in December indicate that he is improving as a fighter, which suggests a serious application on his part. Ultimately, however, the doubts and the criticism will not be silenced until Paul takes on and beats a front-line boxer in a full professional bout. That is his next challenge.

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