Professional boxing will be in the spotlight Sunday evening, even if it won’t be because of the most skilled technicians in the sport. YouTube personality Jake Paul will face off against former UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley in an eight-round sanctioned cruiserweight fight. The PPV event is scheduled for Sunday, August 29 on FITE.tv and Showtime.
This will be Woodley’s first professional boxing match and Paul’s fourth career pro fight. Paul has yet to fight an actual boxer in the ring, but this will mark his second straight bout against a mixed martial arts athlete. That is a significant step up from his first two fights.
Paul claims he wants to become a legitimate boxer, but it has been a slow move toward legitimacy. He began his boxing career with a fifth round TKO of YouTuber Deji Olatunji. The fight was on the undercard of Paul’s brother Logan facing Olatunji’s older brother KSI.
Paul turned pro after that fight, but stuck with the YouTuber theme. He faced fellow personality AnEsonGib in January 2020 and stopped him in the first round. A stoppage is a stoppage, but the level of competition was not significant.
Paul’s second pro fight was a step up in competition in the sense that he faced an actual professional athlete. Paul met former NBA player Nate Robinson in the ring with the latter coming off 10 years in the league and having won three NBA Slam Dunk titles. It turns out dunking a basketball doesn’t quite convert to boxing. Robinson didn’t look entirely awful, but Paul knocked him out in the second round — creating one of the more memorable memes in boxing history.
That led to Paul’s last fight against former UFC MMA star and NCAA wrestling champion Ben Askren. While Askren came out of retirement to accept the fight and didn’t appear to be in the best of shape, he was a well-regarded combat sports athlete at one point in his life. But he was never a boxer, which means all of the battles Paul has had continue to be against people that aren’t actual professional boxing prize fighters.
You could say that’s a hole in his resume.
Some trash talk from that bout began with Woodley in the locker room, who was in the corner of Askren for their fight. And that’s why Paul is fighting Woodley on Sunday night in Cleveland. You can see Paul does have some skills, but also a massive size advantage on Askren here.
So while Askren is a capable tough guy, he was never a striker as an MMA professional, and he was outweighed by at least 20 pounds when the bell rang. What happens to Paul when he stops having all these built-in advantages?
We won’t know on Sunday either, as Woodley should come in about 20 pounds lighter than Paul as well, and he’s still not a boxer (though certainly a more well-regarded striker than Askren). It’s why even if Paul moves to 4-0 with a win, he will still be 0-0 against actual professionals in his chosen discipline.
Until that actually happens, remember this is all for the show.