YouTube personality turned professional boxer Jake Paul takes on former NBA Slam Dunk champion Nate Robinson in a cruiserweight bout Saturday evening at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles. It marks Paul’s second career professional fight and Robinson’s debut at any level of boxing.
The California State Athletic Commission sanctioned the fight and it will operate under traditional rules. There will be six rounds with 10 ounce gloves and no head gear. The exhibition main event featuring Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. could reportedly be stopped if either fighter suffers a cut, but Paul-Robinson will not be operating under those kinds of exhibition rules.
Paul has talked about wanting to pursue a pro boxing career in recent years, but if you have not followed him on YouTube, you probably view this matchup as a bit of a joke. Robinson is a great athlete and has been training to fight, but if Paul wanted to develop a pro career one would think he would go a more conventional route, working his way up through club fighters and the proverbial tomato cans that could help him build his skills and work his way up.
This week, Paul spoke with our friends at The Verge about everything from his YouTube career to his boxing career. In describing Saturday’s fight, he put on the sell job in promoting Robinson as a serious opponent in the ring.
For me, it’s a perfect fight because everyone thinks I’m just this YouTube pretty kid. And everyone thinks that he’s this buff NBA athlete. But on Saturday, people are gonna see how serious I’m taking the sport and how good I am at the sport. And I plan on knocking out him in the first round.
He hasn’t faced legit professional boxers in his two career fights, and he gave a bit of a sideways answer when asked if he wanted to “get in the ring with people who are pro boxers.”
I want to. I want to bring MMA fighters from the UFC over into the ring and go head to head with them. I want to prove myself, and prove how good I am at this sport. In sparring, I’m fighting pro boxers all the time. WBA champs, WBC champs. And I’m going head to head with them. So, you know, these YouTubers and celebrities and all these people can get the smoke first, and then it’s on to professional fighters for sure.
He says he wants to get in the ring with pro boxers, but quickly pivots to talking about bringing over MMA fighters. That’s a step up from fighting the likes of Robinson and fellow YouTube personality Ali Eson Gib, but it’s still not the traditional type of skilled boxer.
Clearly Jake Paul has not taken a traditional path to professional boxing, so it should surprise nobody his pro career will feature as much curiosity factor as anything else. His comments about his career suggest a fighter more interested in the spectacle than the sport.
In July, he tweeted about becoming “one of the biggest prize fighters in the world” and said “gimme 36 months.” In his interview with The Verge, he was asked about that and he said his progress is “going good” in part because “the pay-per-view is on pace to be one of the biggest.” While plenty are going to buy this PPV, I think we can all agree it’s because of Mike Tyson vs. Roy Jones, Jr. and not Jake Paul vs. Nate Robinson.
Good luck to Jake Paul in his pro career, but until he starts facing legitimate boxers, we’ll hold off on assuming this is anything more than a chance to build his brand and make some money. There’s nothing wrong with doing that, but let’s not pretend it’s what it’s not.