Is Jake Paul a serious boxer? The results of his latest fight may have shown that he’s good enough to beat an aged mixed martial arts champion.
What was viewed as an exhibition by most fans came to a very real conclusion as Paul took a first-round knockout victory over former Bellator MMA and ONE FC champion Ben Askren. The result capped a weird night of combat sports and music with a memorable highlight and a touch of controversy.
— Jake Paul (@jakepaul) April 18, 2021
The bout between Paul and Askren basically what one would have expected between the two after watching their most recent combat endeavors. Paul pressed the action but remained disciplined, something that carried him to victory in both of his previous bouts. Askren plodded around the ring, but largely avoided any damage from Paul’s early spurts of offense.
Whether it was force of habit from MMA or just his lack of actual striking experience, Askren’s lead hand drifted out and up. A jab followed by a looping right hook from Paul caught Askren flush on the temple and dropped him hard.
Askren was up quickly, but was shaky on his feet for a time. He recovered inside the 10-count but Paul moved in too quickly, prompting the referee to wave him back.
In a confusing conclusion, the fight was then waved off with Paul being declared the winner.
As with every other large boxing match regardless of the outcome, “rigged” trended worldwide on Twitter ahead of promoter-designated hashtags. Nonetheless, it still looked like a damning night for the former MMA champion and a vindicating one for Paul.
Jake Paul vs. Ben Askren was almost certainly not rigged. While Triller’s shoddy camera work didn’t pick it up perfectly, it appears that Askren was knocked out cleanly.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 18, 2021
Though he was standing under his own power by the count of eight, Askren was visibly stumbling long after the count. Even after getting extra bonus time to recover after the count when Paul advanced early, the referee could be seen beckoning Askren to step forward. Askren continued to hobble sideways, prompting the stoppage.
Understandably, Askren’s loss was a tough pill for MMA fans to swallow.
Though Askren is aged and showed up to the fight more chunky than Funky, he’s still a former Olympic wrestler, was the champion of two major MMA promotions, and was widely regarded as a top-10 fighter in the highly competitive welterweight class for nearly a decade. Theoretically, those credentials should allow him to walk off the street and make quick work of someone that’s best known for social media hooliganism, but that’s not so.
This was far from the best version of Ben Askren that fans have seen. Though Askren’s weight was a hot topic of conversation after the weigh-ins, coming in at 191 pounds after finishing his MMA career at 170 pounds, that wasn’t necessarily because of a lack of motivation.
Askren’s been very open regarding his physical status, particularly as it relates to the fact that he likely needs hip replacement surgery. But even if this wasn’t the case, the fact that Askren’s outstretched hand literally went over Paul’s head as the final punches came in showed the glaring weaknesses in his actual striking.
The reported payouts for Jake Paul and Ben Askren for their boxing match on Triller were $690,000 and $500,000, respectively. No details on other sources of revenue, particularly shares of the pay-per-view purchases, were disclosed.
Here are the salaries for #PaulAskren
Ben Askren $500,000
Jake Paul $690,000
Ivan Redkach $250,000
Regis Prograis $850,000
Frank Mir $350,000
Steve Cunningham $150,000
Joe Fournier $220,000
Full purse list and story will be up shortly on @MMAFighting
— MMAFighting.com (@MMAFighting) April 16, 2021
While Paul’s haters will find a way to explain away each of his victories, it’s getting more difficult to dismiss him as a sideshow act. Paul is still undeniably raw when it comes to boxing, but there’s enough grit, technical acumen, and pure punching power there to commend.
Jake Paul’s first boxing match came on the undercard of Logan Paul’s first boxing match opposite Deji Olatunji. During that fight, Paul copied Floyd Mayweather’s boxing stance with a low lead hand. Given his lack of head movement, shoulder rolling, and hand speed, he was smacked around for the first few rounds before gutting out a late stoppage.
It was a display of toughness that many didn’t expect, and Paul has dropped the Mayweather act entirely in favor of picking his shots and slinging hard punches. He has the style and ability that should translate to convincing victories over anyone that doesn’t actually know how to box.
Paul remains a social media personality first and latecomer to combat sports second, and that puts a hard ceiling when it comes to any notion of him being a legitimate boxer. But in another reality where Paul found boxing at a younger age and poured his whole self into it, he may have been able to make some sort of run.
No details were given regarding Jake Paul’s next fight and it’s anyone’s guess as to who he may face next. Both Paul and Askren made a lot of money from their match and that has seen a number of people get in line for a money fight against the YouTuber.
let me save the mma community
— Dillon Danis (@dillondanis) April 18, 2021
Dillon Danis, a Conor McGregor hanger-on best known for getting pelted with water balloons by Jake Paul last year, staked a claim for the match and makes as much sense as anyone else. It could also be another social media influencer or another crossover athlete. The possibilities are endless.