Jake Paul caught between boxing’s next big draw and another Sideshow

Jake Paul is a lot of things: YouTuber, influencer, Disney Channel star – now boxer. Good type of. Paul won his second fight on Saturday, knocking out retired NBA player Nate Robinson in a messy fight that served his purpose of getting people watching. Being the showman that he is, Paul capped his night by going beyond just wearing gloves against untrained fighters. He bragged about being “the next Floyd Mayweather”, in an attempt to do what he was really good at, getting attention.

The plot that followed the fight wasn’t the knockout itself, unless you liked the idea of ​​grilling Nate Robinson. It was about whether Paul’s fights poked fun at boxing history and turned the sport into a side-show, or whether his arrival on the cards introduced boxing to a new generation of fans and saved it in the process. Mike Tyson, who was also on the card on Saturday, shared his feelings, saying he believes Paul’s arrival is integral to the future of the sport.

“Boxing was pretty much a dying sport. UFC was kicking us in the butt, and now we have these YouTube boxers with 25 million views. Boxing is back. Thanks to YouTube boxers. “

We have a delicate balance left. There is no doubt that boxing has become a niche sport in the United States, survived by its purist fans after mixed martial arts attracted younger viewers. Is it worth trying to recapture that former glory of the big fight in the hope that boxing will resurface, or does putting people like Jake Paul at the forefront undermines the integrity of the sport itself?

Scott Christ is the manager of Bad Left Hook, SB Nation’s boxing blog. He believes that while a larger discussion is taking place as to whether Paul is the devil or the savior of boxing, in reality he doesn’t think Paul will have a long-term impact.

While there is undoubtedly an interest in seeing people like Jake Paul fight, boxing has failed to convert these new viewers into full-time fans. “They bring with them an audience that doesn’t normally watch boxing, and who aren’t very interested in the more ‘legitimate’ boxing on the rest of the map either,” says Christ. There is a novelty factor to be tuned to see if Paul can fight or if he will fall to the canvas – but little appeal is in boxing itself. Even with an influencer involved, the only influence seems to come from creating Paul’s own brand, not from developing the sport itself.

Christ does not see Paul hurting the sport with fights like this, for more eyes are better than fewer, even if they are spectators out of curiosity. However, if he wants to make an impact on the sport, there is a potential path for Paul to make something beyond a side-show: he would need to learn how to be a real boxer. That doesn’t mean putting on gloves to fight other YouTubers and former NBA stars, but training legitimately so that you can hold on to professionally trained fighters. This is not outside the realm of possibility, given that Paul is only 23 and has time to learn, but his willpower in this regard could be another story.

“Would he really want to?” The goal for that? Christ said: “Is boxing really going to become his life? He might think it already is, and that’s where I wonder about the sincere illusion about the art of selling, but there’s really no way he was at that level of devotion.

There are some things that suggest that Paul has certain skills, but Christ calls him a “white collar boxer,” an amateur who is more proficient than an untrained person, but who cannot be compared under any circumstances. pretext for a fighter. “You look at his footwork and compare him to a real pro, and it’s not the same world,” Christ says, “you look at the way he lets his punches go, the angles that he comes from, and it is the same. You will beat opponents who don’t know what they’re doing, what he’s been up to, but guys who have been training for years, since they were kids, probably another story.

It all comes down to one key question: How much does Jake Paul want this? No one can answer that question except Paul himself, as any public answer he gives will be clouded by a layer, after a layer of carefully orchestrated spin and tantalizing answers to keep people on the hook.

Despite claims he’s the next Mayweather, or calling Conor McGregor, Paul isn’t ready. Not by far. Christ mentions lightweight companion Tommy Karpency, a 34-year-old fighter who was successful but never really became a serious contender. In his eyes, if Paul got in the ring with Karpency, he would get played. “It would take Jake years more to be able to hang on to that kind of pro, and that’s long before we ended up in elite fighters.

Paul’s arrival in the boxing world becomes polarized. There is a general contempt for any type of celebrity boxing on the part of actual fighters. It’s a dangerous sport, where people put years of training, but also their lives on the line. A YouTuber setting up show fights and calling in skilled professionals is an affront to those who have gone through the rigors and the sacrifices necessary to become professionals. However, despite this general dislike of all celebrity boxing, it draws attention to the lesser-known fighters who otherwise couldn’t compete on a map with so many people watching. It also seems to be a lot more of a problem to wax poetically, rather than for professionals taking a date off a Jake Paul card. “Devin Haney and Billy Joe Saunders are world class fighters who were on the KSI-Logan Paul sub-map in November 2019,” says Christ, “and boxing fans and fighters who weren’t those guys. seemed to be much more insulted than either one or the other, they were.

“You can’t help but wonder if those who are protesting loudly now might change their mind if they were offered the place and a good payday,” Christ says, and that’s really part of the problem. How well does Paul box because he’s competitive, and how much is he seen as an insult because someone is drawing attention and money to the sport – and he aren’t enough locations on the map for everyone?

The only certainty in this situation is that Paul will keep making this buzz until the wheels fall off. Whether it ends in a few months, a few years, or if, by some strange twist of fate, Paul decides to dedicate himself to boxing and becomes the kind of fighter who can take on daring challenges without it sounding like a joke. Boxing has always been at the heart of two forces working together: fighting and promotion. In 2020, there may be no one better than Jake Paul to draw attention to sports, but as one of the world’s kings of self-promotion, his influence might not spread. than how she improves his personal brand, in which case he will go in pursuit of the next novelty, and it will remain in boxing to get back to his poise.

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