Like any good villain in this business of fighting and promoting, Jake Paul understands much of his revenue derives from consumers who want to see him unconscious and embarrassed.
Paul’s billing his next bout as that opportunity.
“Hello world, if you’ve been waiting to see me get knocked out, this is probably the fight you want to watch,” Paul said in an interview with the New York Daily News.
It’s an interesting sell, even if the oddsmakers aren’t buying it. Paul, a former YouTuber and Disney actor who became one of boxing’s biggest attractions through impudence and knockout power, is the heavy favorite after picking his next opponent, Hasim Rahman Jr., on short notice. Paul’s initial challenger, Tommy Fury, backed out because of a visa issue.
Rahman Jr. is a bigger fighter (he’s a legit heavyweight at 6-3) with a recognizable name (his father is the former heavyweight champion) and a 12-1 record against largely underwhelming competition. To Paul, Rahman Jr. is the retort to criticisms that he never fights professional boxers.
Their Aug. 6 bout, available on Showtime PPV, is Paul’s debut at Madison Square Garden, a venue of prestige that reinforces his popularity as a main eventer. As with any Paul fight, there must be animosity to drum up excitement.
The backstory with Rahman Jr. is a sparring session about two years ago that apparently turned nasty. Not coincidentally, footage of tense moments between Paul and Rahman Jr. leaked Thursday.
“It’s more about the disrespect,” Paul said. “Calling me names. Calling me b----. Saying he’s going to beat my a--, saying he’s going to beat my coach’s a--. That I’m nothing compared to him. That I’ll always be YouTuber. That I’m never going to get big in this sport. All these things that he was saying to me.”
It was easier to sell with Fury, a former British reality TV star from the United Kingdom with model looks and 4.2 million Instagram followers. In this corner of the boxing world, social media presence is important to promotion.
Fury, the brother of current heavyweight champ Tyson, was denied entry into the United States for unknown reasons just before the fight’s introductory press conference at MSG. It was the second time Fury pulled out of a bout with Paul, who has levied accusations of cowardice.
“I’m coming off the Sports Illustrated Knockout of the Year,” Paul said. “I think [Fury] looks at that and it could haunt him. You never know what it is with these guys, man. You never know what it is. I don’t get why all these professional fighters don’t want to fight. It’s like a chef not cooking.”
Paul, who is 6-1 and last fought at 191 pounds, is certainly active. This will be his sixth fight since 2020, with the first five ending in knockout victories. It’s a career few thought possible for a 25-year-old whose introduction to the boxing audience was viciously knocking out former Knicks guard Nate Robinson.
“Talking a lot of s--- and backing up every word of it,” Paul explained of his lasting power. “It would be different if I was sitting here and saying all this stuff and went out there and didn’t perform and was a boring fighter. I’ve knocked out ever one I fought in a vicious way and it’s so early on in my career. And people want to see what they’ve never seen before — and that’s a YouTube/Disney kid turning into a f------ savage killer.”
It’s an unconventional path to boxing fame and, for that reason, Paul sees himself as something of a role model to the big dreamers.
And until he’s knocked out, there will always be people paying to see it happen.
“I want to put on massive fights,” Paul said. “I want to fight legendary names like Mike Tyson, Canelo, Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz. And then after that, become the light heavyweight champion of the world.”