Is it time to start taking Jake Paul seriously?
Leaving no doubt in their second meeting, Jake Paul flattened former UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley with a stunning sixth-round knockout on Saturday. So is it now time to take the YouTube prankster seriously?
Perhaps we should have listened to him.
The last time the fighters spoke to the press before the bout at the Amalie Arena in Tampa, at Friday's weigh-in, the 24-year-old had promised that we were about to see a "different" Jake Paul.
"We’re f*ckin’ buckin’ in the middle of the ring. No funny sh*t. No funny sh*t like last time, I’m f*cking him up!" Paul threatened.
When Paul and Woodley locked horns in August, there was controversy after Paul was rocked in the fourth round but managed to hold on for a controversial points win.
Knocking his foe out cold with a one-punch KO this time round, however, this logically suggests an improvement.
And while his dreams of becoming a world champion might be pie in the sky for now with the likes of Mairis Briedis holding two belts at cruiserweight and pound-for-pound great Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez about to enter the division, perhaps Paul deserves more respect at the very least.
For all his loudmouthed outbursts, it seems that Paul respects boxing for a start.
Though we are not privy to what he gets up to every single moment of the day, the YouTuber does share a fair amount of his goings-on with the public on social media and appears to live the life of a professional fighter.
Always in impeccable shape, he is a gym rat when not with his girlfriend Julia Rose, and the clips he posts online show he takes training sincerely and is making an honest attempt to master the sweet science.
Though he is yet to step up to 10-round bouts, it is not just any old chancer that can go the distance with Woodley, even though both men had the crowd restless last night from constant clinching and a lack of action as the action dragged on.
Let's not forget that before current ruler Kamaru Usman dethroned him in March 2019, Woodley had put four UFC title defenses together and was being talked of as potentially among the greatest MMA welterweights of all time.
Paul was not fighting a nobody on Saturday night, no matter how far Woodley has fallen from his heyday inside the cage.
I’ve KO’ed everyone I’ve fought. pic.twitter.com/Pz55uCIHc4— Jake Paul (@jakepaul) December 19, 2021
That being said, Woodley is neither a cruiserweight, where both of the Paul fights have taken place, nor a boxer by trade.
Calling out the pair constantly, Paul, if he is to continue taking on UFC fighters, should look towards the likes of Jorge Masvidal and Nate Diaz for a proper test in the squared circle.
Woodley and his previous foe Ben Askren, who Paul knocked out in one round, are better known for their wrestling pedigree. But at least Diaz and Masvidal are genuine strikers commended for the way they throw hands, even if Diaz is also an accomplished Brazilian Jiu-jitsu specialist.
Perhaps it is not Paul's fault that he has never faced a 'proper' boxer either. After all, remember that he was all lined up to take on Tyson Fury's half-brother Tommy until the Brit pulled out with a broken rib and chest infection.
Himself a 7-0 novice who has only ever been in with one fighter with a winning record, Fury's resume is arguably far less impressive, with two of his foes losing 26 bouts each and another a whopping 102.
Whereas Paul is becoming better known as a fighter, Fury, in his homeland, is still a Love Island contestant living in the shadows of his sibling and father.
One other valid criticism of Paul is the age of those who stand opposite him. Nate Robinson – his second victim – and Askren are 37, and Woodley is an even older 39.
If Paul is really only comfortable taking on veterans for now but wants to make a name for himself as a pugilist, he should maybe be aiming towards real cruiserweights either on or heading to the other side of 35.
People like Ilunga Makabu, who lost to Tony Bellew fighting for the WBC belt at Everton's Goodison Park, or Thabiso Mchunu, who was beaten by Oleksandr Usyk for the WBO strap in 2016, would fit this bill. And there is also former light heavyweight king Badou Jack, now campaigning at 200lbs.
There is also a murky element to consider in Paul's trajectory. The split decision in the first Woodley bout was disputed in August.
There have also been accusations of Paul's refusal to comply with VADA drug testing for his bouts by the Fury camp, and neither he nor Woodley were subject to random testing from the body for their rematch.
As Paul has pointed out, though, the Florida Athletic Commission did carry out testing in fight week, but Woodley says he never took a drug test for the Ohio meeting.
Ultimately, Saturday night in Florida shows that Jake Paul deserves to be cut more slack for how seriously he is taking his boxing career, even though will never be truly respected until he has faced a genuine boxer under the full scrutiny that a professional contest warrants.
By Tom Sanderson
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.