Is Jake Paul actually good for boxing?
The mere mention of Jake Paul's name elicits a series of extreme emotions in the fight world. In one corner, purists bemoan Paul’s very existence and disparage any fight he's involved in. In the other corner, younger fans can't wait to see Paul step in the ring again.
They'll get their wish on Saturday, April 17, when the YouTube star takes on former MMA champion Ben Askren.
Sun, April 18 2021, 1:00 AM
Is Jake Paul making a mockery of the sweet science?
The hype and the buzz are real, but the big question remains: Are Jake Paul and his brother Logan bad for boxing?
Frankly, there is no doubt that the Paul brothers’ foray into the sweet science is anything but a boon to a sport that hasn’t been in the mainstream since the 1970s.
For the first time in decades, there is a massive number of casual fans being organically drawn to the sport. The Paul brothers have followers in the millions on social media, far more than any professional fighter on the planet, and command the boxing news cycle as if they were walking, breathing legends of the game.
Paul's KO of Robinson was one of the most talked about moments in boxing in 2020
Last year, Jake’s knockout of Nate Robinson was a freakshow, but it stole the show on a card that featured Mike Tyson vs. Roy Jones Jr. The knockout in question was one of the most talked about boxing moments of 2020, making the rounds on several major sports shows like ESPN’s First Take and Skip and Shannon: Undisputed on Fox Sports.
While it is frustrating that Paul generates so much attention, not to mention money and network clout, it has to be said that Paul isn’t taking this as a joke. For what it's worth, Paul shouldn't be commended for putting in the work and developing as expected of someone with two professional fights.
Paul may be the headlining act, but he’s been flanked by emerging talents and established stars all the same. Teofimo Lopez is making the first defense of his lightweight title on the Paul/Askren card, and this is coming even after Lopez lamented Paul's presence in the sport. That change in tone alone signifies that Paul’s impact is necessary for the sport’s evolution.
And really, evolution is what this is all about.
Paul's social media following is helping grow the sport
Boxing has been run the same for nearly a century. Fighters ultimately fail to sell themselves to the public, so they rely on promoters who have their own interests in mind. Even then, promotions for major fights are not billed as social events or spectacles. They are instead marketed to sports loyalists as opposed to the more lucrative casual base.
We have seen Ryan Garcia command a tremendous amount of influence due to his large social media following to the point where he’s already one of the sport’s most popular fighters, despite lacking major career milestones.
The production and press for Paul/Askren have also been top notch. Even something as mundane as a press conference is carried with an aura of intrigue. Compare that to the same tired weigh-ins we see time and again, it’s a welcomed breath of fresh air.
Boxing can learn a thing or two from Jake Paul
When it comes to Jake Paul, maybe the powers that be can learn a few things about how to market fighters going forward. As fans flock to order the fight before this weekend and will surely keep it a talking point well beyond the final bell, maybe it’s time boxing realizes that the Jake Paul experiment is for the greater good.