This is a strange year and here's am assertion which is in line with the times–the top 3 boxing PPV events of the year so far are Jake Paul v Ben Askren, Logan Paul v Floyd Mayweather and Jake Paul v Tyron Woodley.
It’s fair to say the Paul brothers are one of the biggest draws in boxing. Quite simply, their meteoric rise has been unsurprisingly remarkable and their polarising charisma and loyal fan base is one of many reasons SHOWTIME has been willing to invest heavily into the Paulshow.
Logan and Jake are here to stay and if you still harbour any doubts pertaining to their drawing ability, look no further than Sunday’s turnout at the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. The 16,000 in attendance were absolutely rocking from the first bell until the last. This is a city and arena which doesn’t having the pulling power of casinos that Vegas does, yet the atmosphere was abuzz with Paul fanatics, frenetic fans and curious celebrities, on a Sunday night no less.
This was the first Jake Paul fight under a SHOWTIME exclusive contract and the second Paul outing following Logan’s June exhibition with Floyd Mayweather..and the results are slowly speaking for themselves. Million dollar PPV events, Sunday night shows, vibrant Florida crowd, Cleveland, Ohio cloaked in fight fever, even LeBron James chiming in on social media– these brothers are buzz and money-making machines. The development is curious to some, baffling even.. but the Pauls demand attention. They aren’t everyone’s cup of tea but for now, get used to it.
Time to sanction Serrano’s trainer
Successfully taking away the shine from Amanda Serrano’s successful title defence over Yamileth Mercado was her head trainer Jordan Maldonado. Maldonado is also the husband of Amanda’s sister Cindy, also a pro boxer. He decided Sunday night on the Logan Paul v Tyron Woodley undercard that the minute just before the commencement of the final round was an opportune time to yell obscenities at the game yet obviously overmatched Mercado.
The corner mics picked up his diatribe and we thought it would be the last of it.
He rambled on in the post-fight interview with Ariel Helwani, questioning Mercado’s fighting style, her ability and her fighting Mexican heritage.
And he carried on more, too, apparently. In a Facebook post by Mercado, she claimed Maldonado kept up the abuse all the way to the back and even kept up the antics as she was getting into an ambulance, to be ferried for further monitoring at a hospital.
Maldonado has a history of this kind of sheer thuggery, even being ejected from the corner once for arguing with an official.
Fighters fight their fight and if Mercado wasn’t opening up, then it was on Serrano to impress. After all, she was the star and selling point of this particular bout. What makes Maldonado’s comments even more unsavoury are the fact that just 24 hours prior, 18-year-old female Mexican fighter Jeanette Zacarias Zapata collapsed into a coma after suffering a 4th round TKO to Marie-Pier Houle in Montreal.
This is a sport which is already unforgiving as it is. There is no need for a guy, who’s not even fighting, to verbally abuse overmatched opponents to open up just so that poor individual can be at the end of a potentially life changing highlight reel KO. This kind of behaviour is disgusting, sociopathic and has no room in an already stained sport.
Jake Paul’s next step will be decisive
It didn’t go the way Jake Paul had hoped. For the better part of the past few months, the younger brother of social media sensation Logan Paul, had promised everyone who was listening to him that he would knock out former UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley in brutal fashion. Fast forward to round 4 and Jake Paul found himself badly slumped against the ropes after receiving an overhand right from Woodley.
That should have been ruled a knockdown against Paul yet Woodley couldn’t throw enough to capitalize at the moment onwards. This has been thematic for Woodley, in particular the last 16 rounds he has lost in the UFC and whilst the fight itself was pretty eventful, Jake received somewhat of a red light reality check of how much he still needs to do to improve.
Unfolding over the course of those 8 rounds were a noticeable decline in his power the longer the fight went on, sloppy foot work, clumsiness, un-coordination and a propensity of being caught way more than he would have liked.
Alarmingly, he stated following the fight’s conclusion that he would like a rest for a while and teased being retired for now. His skill level is beginning to bubble to the surface and there is a lot of hard work to be done if he wants his skills to match his popularity.
His next fight is crucial. It is evident he needs to be matched carefully still due to the compendium of flaws present, yet time is also running out. It seems bizarre to say that, given Jake is only 24 and 4 fights in, yet the detractors are becoming increasingly vocal at his inability to fight a legitimate boxer or a legitimate challenge. He will continue to sell PPVs so long as there is an increase in both risk and inherent danger in upcoming opponents or he faces opponents with equity such as Conor McGregor. But at some point, the gravy train will run its course. The voices of him finally fighting some skilled in pugilism will increase, as will public demand.
I still feel a rematch with Woodley is the best option next, given there’s still some meat on the table in terms of selling another fight again but fantasy talks of Canelo and Tank Davis need to be stop. He would be butchered like a lamb at a slaughterhouse.
What exactly is Tommy Fury?
The opening bout of SHOWTIME’s PPV telecast saw Tommy Fury claim a unanimous decision victory over Jake Paul’s sparring partner Anthony Taylor. He was expected to blow his opponent away akin to how Daniel Dubois later blew away Joe Cusumano. Yet it was a frustrating affair which didn’t raise anyone’s stock but closed the gap, at least on paper, on how competitive a potential affair with Jake Paul might be.
Yet it begs the question – what exactly is Tommy Fury? What is his identity? What is his goal in boxing? Does he want to be a pro boxer or engage in celebrity boxing? His half-brother Tyson Fury lords over the heavyweight division as the WBC, Ring Magazine and lineal king. His cousin Hughie Fury, who’s still only 26, has already fought the likes of Joseph Parker, Alexander Povetkin and Kubrat Pulev. These are, as both John and Peter Fury would remind you, serious fighting men with serious aspirations. Yet Tommy’s career appears to be going on an un-Fury trajectory. He took a 9 months’ hiatus after just his 2nd pro fight to star in the British reality TV show Love Island, which did raise his profile in the public consciousness and expose him to a different audience.
After 7 pro fights, here he is angling his way for a Jake Paul showdown.
We understand that fighters must do whatever they can to bring home as much money as possible but it begs the question – is Tommy Fury in boxing as a special attraction/side show or is he in this to carry on the same path Tyson has walked? Because even with the lavish riches a Paul fight brings, these kind of spectacles are hindering his development. Yes, he has only had 10 amateur fights but the time away from the ring and the pursuit of Paul are inhibiting his growth. He is not the finished article yet and needs a lot of work. If the Paul fights come to fruition, it might be best for Tommy to take a step back after that and renew his development as a genuine prize fighter and not just as Tyson’s famous sibling or that fella from Love Island.
The whole “new eyes” on the sport is slowly being exposed as a myth
One of the continued justifications for the imposition of exhibitions / special attractions / Youtuber boxing / freak shows – whatever you want to call it – was that these guys can bring a whole new audience into the sport and expose boxing to fresh eyes and hopefully raise its appeal. The ultimate idea seems to be: well, if Logan and Jake Paul are fighting, they might want to check out the next fight card on SHOWTIME or see the fighters on the undercard again..and whilst the event did do a good job of exposing the likes to Dubois, Serrano, Love etc to a new audience, post-fight indications suggest otherwise.
The main topics trending on Twitter were Jake Paul, McGregor and Floyd Mayweather. SHOWTIME has an excellent title unification coming up between Stephen Fulton Jr and Brandon Figueroa in the next few weeks yet there was almost zero mention of it, zero promotion, nothing.
No sooner had the final bell rung where the immediate topics either Jake Paul V Tommy Fury or Jake Paul V Tyron Woodley II. It’s becoming slowly ostensible that this “new eyes to the sport” isn’t true. Those “new eyes” are only watching when either half of the Paulshow fight.
Those “new eyes” are only interested in the celebrity boxing cabal which consists of the same names circled in rotation– Logan Paul, Jake Paul, KSI, Floyd Mayweather, Conor McGregor, Tommy Fury etc.
The “new eyes” aren’t returning back to watch a SHOWTIME Championship Boxing card or a PBC on FOX card or tuning into ESPN or subscribing to DAZN (unless it’s for Canelo). The year over year over year decline in ratings will attest to that. (Editor Note: Though I must note, without conviction of conception of validity of theory–it might be that there is less of a ratings drain than it would appear, because digital viewing habits aren't as adeptly counted as Nielsen does it.)
There is a space in the wild west sport of boxing for these celebrity / Youtuber exhibitions and its audience is unique. It’s not for everyone but we must stop deluding ourselves into believing these crossover celebrities are bringing “new eyes” to the whole of the sport of boxing because truthfully, they’re not. The “new eyes” are locked in one vicious circle and it will be very difficult to pry them away from what they want to see and what they want to stay in loop with.
This has presented the sport and its powers that be with a new challenge – firstly, figure out how to retain that Youtuber audience over the short, mid and long term and secondly, extract a portion of that audience and feed them into the boxing exclusive telecasts, which in turn will raise both viewing figures and fighter profiles. It is a process that will take time but imagine how awesome it would be to see, say, a Stephen Fulton Jr exposed consistently to a new audience.
Also, major props to Cleveland, Ohio for what was an electric atmosphere on a top to bottom satisfying night of fights. It was worth staying up until 5:30 AM for it. Also props to Montana Love. Ohio’s own pulled off the biggest victory of his young career so far with a corner stoppage after a great back and forth affair with former IBF titlist Ivan Baranchyk. With the way he performed coupled with it being in front of his hometown fans, the platform for exposure and his back story, SHOWTIME has a potential star on their hands.