Jake Paul announced Ryan Bourland as his next opponent and you heard a chorus of “who now?”
The YouTube influencer morphing into proper prizefighter will be fighting a professional boxer for the third time in his career on March 2nd, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and that boxer is Bourland, a North Dakota resident.
Paul has a professional boxing record of 8-1, with five KOs. He is 1-1 against professional boxers.
Last year, he suffered the first loss of his professional career when he dropped a split decision to Tommy Fury.
In the previous Jake outing, he knocked out Andre August in the first round of their contest.
Now enter Ryan Bourland, 35, from Dickerson, North Dakota, by way of California.
On paper he’s the most experienced boxer and most accomplished professional boxer Paul has faced.
More on the foe.
Resume Points For Jake Paul Foe
Bourland took up boxing at 11, he told me, getting Golden Glove and National Junior Olympian honors.
As a professional, he is 17-2, with 6 KOs.
NYFights sat down with Ryan Bourland to give you a glimpse into who he is and to get his take on what a fight against one of boxing's most polarizing athletes means for his career.
NYF: Thank you for taking time from your busy schedule to talk with NYFights.com. How is the training camp going?
RB: It is going good. I am in Dickinson, North Dakota, working very hard with my longtime coach, Mario L’Esparance.
NYF: You were described as a semi-retired boxer in an article in Sports Illustrated. It's been 17 months since your last fight.
What brought you back into the ring?
Was it solely a chance to fight Jake Paul, or were you already considering a comeback?
RB: I retired in 2019.
I went to work in North Dakota on an oil rig. I thought the boxing part of my life was over.
Then, I went to the gym and started training again. I had a lot of fun and took a local fight. I had entertained the idea of a comeback.
This was honestly the perfect fight to motivate me and fight again.
I get to fight on a major network, DAZN, against a well-known fighter.
I worked many years fighting in ballrooms to get a chance like this. Once I knew this could happen, I got the gang back together.
It feels like old times driving to Oakland and sparring at ‘Lightning' Lopez's gym.
I am here to shock the world even though it should not be a shock to anyone since I am a veteran professional boxer.
NYF: Many boxing “purists” and “real” boxers don't consider Jake Paul a “real” boxer. What are your thoughts on Jake Paul?
Do you consider him a “real” boxer regarding amateur pedigree, experience, and boxing ability?
RB: I think he is, and I wouldn't have taken the fight if I didn't see him as a real fighter.
He is much better than people give him credit for, and he is taking tough fights, especially for his skill level.
The fact that he picked me speaks to what he believes he is because I am a great fighter. I’m an accomplished fighter, I held a regional championship.
Jake is legit and is fighting me because he wants to fight experienced, well-accomplished pros. I respect how he is going about it and take him very seriously.
That said, I know I am going to beat him. He is just going to be in with an experienced veteran. You can't teach experience.
I am a blue-collar guy who works in the oil fields of North Dakota and is about to shock the world and shake up the landscape of boxing.
I think boxing needs to be shaken up.
I never got these types of chances before Jake Paul came around.
I think he is a good dude, and I appreciate Mike Leanardì of Most Valuable Promotions, too! That said, I am not starstruck by him or this moment.
Jake Paul will have a legacy in boxing when all is said and done. Some of that legacy will also be attached to me as I see this as a potential series of fights.
NYF: Jake Paul recently stated, “I've always said my goal is to become a world champion. I beat a pro boxer in December in the first round, someone who's been boxing their entire life.”
What do you think about this statement, and do you think he believes he can have the same success against you as he did against Andre August?
RB: That is fine. People can say all types of stuff. I am not a huge talker. I understand why he is confident, but he needs to know that I am very focused and ready.
This fight can change my life, and I am treating it like that.
I am here to shock the world, and people will know who the fuck Ryan Bourland is on March 2nd.
NYF: Do you feel Jake Paul bit off more than he can chew fighting someone with your experience level?
RB: That is how every fighter feels leading into a fight. It is only natural.
I am not going to trash-talk Jake a ton. Instead, I will just be ready.
He has all the pressure; I am not supposed to be good, right? I am grateful for this chance, and I will be ready. We are ready!
NYF: Do you see yourself as a “boxing crusader” on behalf of “real” boxers and boxing “purists” who can expose Jake Paul's perceived limited boxing skills and perhaps put an end to his pursuit of becoming a world champion?
RB: Not really.
This is all the hard work I put on the club scene paying off.
I fought a lot of fights based on ticket sales and small purses. I see this as the big moment. I laid the foundation years ago in Vallejo, California.
Boxing isn't a sport that needs saving, nor does it want to be saved. Boxing is about opportunities. If you work hard enough, you get chances. This is my chance. I owe boxing nothing; I owe myself more.
NYF: What does a win against Jake Paul mean for your future as a boxer?
RB: When I beat Jake, I will go on a run of facing boxers in the influencer world. Salt Papi, KSI, Anthony Taylor, Tommy Fury, all those fights open up to me. I have a great story.
I am a blue-collar guy from the heartland of America, and a win will get me some big fights.
I will gladly enter this world as the legit boxing test for people looking to prove they are boxers.
NYF: Win or lose, will you keep competing after this fight? What are your future goals in boxing?
RB: Yes! I just bought a house.
I have a great job working in the oil fields. After I win this fight, I will be motivated to fight someone else. Probably a Jake Paul rematch after I beat him.
I love training. This is not just me coming off the couch fighting for a check. I am training, and I am putting in the dedication.
NYF: What is your final statement regarding this match, and what do you want to say to boxing fans who will be tuning in to watch this fight?
RB: I want to credit Jake Paul for taking on a real boxer and trying to take a more traditional route.
I respect that he isn't fighting a bigger-name fighter and putting it on pay-per-view.
Instead, it’s on DAZN, on March 2nd, from Puerto Rico, that everybody can watch.
This is huge for me. I have always wanted to be on this stage and promise a legendary night.
This fight will come down to toughness and the willingness to be uncomfortable.
I also like that Amanda Serrano is the main event, and we are the co-feature since she is a world champion. I think neither of us is getting credit. I have been a top-ranked fighter over the years.
I was in the running for a light heavyweight title fight on television years ago, and Jake is taking on some hard fights for his experience level.
My final statement is that people must respect what we are doing.
We are having a competitive fight in which we both are risking a lot.
He is risking more because if I beat him, I am famous.
I think people are looking at this fight as a joke when it could be a fight-of-the-year contender.
I am going in there to let the world know, ‘Who the fuck is Ryan Bourland.'
My Take: Like many of you, I only knew who Ryan Bourland was when it was announced that he would be Jake Paul's next opponent.
I looked up some of his fights. Of the clips I did see, the North Dakota-based fighter has an array of decent boxing skills.
However, the 35-year-old roughneck has been out of boxing for quite some time.
I wonder how sharp he can be against Jake Paul, who is taking the art of boxing seriously and his dream of becoming a world champion.
I don't know what the outcome of this fight will be.
However, I do know that Jake Paul's events have been entertaining and, at times, shocking.
No matter the outcome, Ryan Bourland went from obscurity to now fighting one of the biggest names in boxing.
He is probably making the most money he's ever made, with more opportunities to follow within the celebrity boxing circuit. Love or hate him, that is why Jake Paul is good for boxing and boxers who otherwise wouldn't get an opportunity like this.
Regardless of the outcome on March 2nd, more people will know “Who the f*ck is Ryan Bourland,” and it’s thanks to Jake Paul.