FOX Sports Insider
Jake Paul is down.
For the first time since the start of his unexpected, polarizing, unexpected and – admit it now, increasingly intriguing – foray into boxing, the You-Tuber puncher has tasted defeat.
Paul lost to Tommy Fury in an eight-round split decision on the outskirts of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Sunday, which you already knew, assuming you got anywhere near any form of social media as the final rounds of the weekend closed. .
Despite the relative inexperience of both men, Fury now 9-0 (4 KOs), Paul 6-1, it was a bout that drew more eyeballs, as well as platforms, than virtually any other contest the sport has to offer Right Now.
Of course, this very fact has been regarded by traditionalists as something of a disaster and scandal, the idea that hype, hype and celebrity can be greater generators of interest than pure, determined pugilistic skill.
But these naysayers, as they have been from the beginning, are missing the point.
The simple fact is that fights are much more interesting when there is a story attached to them. Floyd Mayweather’s fighting style was largely defensive and boring, but he did a masterful job of becoming a cash machine when he changed from “Pretty Boy Floyd” to “Money Mayweather,” with the his cheeky and boastful character.
Paul has taken things to an extreme level, harnessing the power of his online following, ramping up the antics, playing trash. His main motive has been to draw attention to himself and line his pockets, but his presence has also exposed millions of people to boxing who otherwise wouldn’t have been.
And now what?
Losses slow momentum for up-and-coming fighters, so it’s theoretically possible that this could be the beginning of the end for Paul as a boxer, but it doesn’t seem particularly likely.
To begin with, there was no misfortune to be had in the loss.
Fury is the kind of real boxer that critics have been clamoring for Paul to fight. Brother of superstar Tyson Fury, Tommy Fury has been fighting since he was 6 years old. Sure, Fury’s record was filled with a string of victories against unfulfilled victims, but that’s simply what happens in the fight game when it comes to elevating any kind of prospect.
Paul lost by a split on the scorecards, but any controversy over the decision is silly. Paul deserved credit, and his performance is worthy of the rematch that is contractually bound and likely to follow, but it was the right result, despite the overall poor performance of referee Hector Afu.
Afu seemed determined to be part of the action and awarded Paul a point for a blow to the back of the head late on when a warning would have been more circumspect. In the end though, Fury had landed as many power punches as Paul had total punches.
Neither Afu’s intervention nor the late takedown (it was a slip) that sent Fury to the canvas could change the outcome, just as the outcome likely did nothing to slow Paul’s fighting career .
There’s money to be made because people will be watching, whether he’s fighting social media star KSI, who previously faced his brother Logan Paul, or going up against older MMA stars like Ben Askren and Anderson Silva, or if he fights a kind of hybrid like Sunday. Fury has boxing chops, but he had the added benefit of a reality TV background and a strong built-in following.
Although the WBC announced, in a blatant exercise in opportunistic self-promotion, that it would place the winner of the Paul-Fury bout in the top 15 of its cruiserweight rankings, that’s not where the Paul’s future A gradual rise up the list of qualifications, before an eventual chance at a degree? This was never part of his project.
His focus has always been on getting people talking more and making more money. What the purists don’t seem to understand is that this has always been the way of boxing, all the way back to the earliest history of the fight game.
“I’ve already won in every aspect of life,” Paul said afterward. “I did it beyond what I ever thought I would, and beyond. This is a humbling experience. I’ll take it on the chin and come back.”
So yes, Paul is down.
But it’s not out, not yet. With an estimated gross of over $10 million from last weekend, not by a long shot.
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