Jake Paul’s fledgling boxing career started out by fighting one of his own.
Last January, Paul made his pro debut against Ali Al Fakri, better known as AnEsonGib, a fellow YouTuber who was more than happy to partake in the spectacle. Paul needed 258 seconds to win via stoppage.
Paul went from fighting a YouTuber to a former pro athlete — ex-NBA star Nate Robinson — and has now upgraded to an actual combat fighter.
This Saturday, Paul will face former MMA fighter Ben Askren in Atlanta in a Triller pay-per-view event. Last week a woman accused Paul of sexually assaulting her in 2019. Paul released a statement on Tuesday denying the claim.
Paul has quietly increased the level of his opposition in the ring, which leads to a natural question: Will Jake Paul ever get to the point where he faces another professional boxer?
So far, Paul’s events have been spectacles. When the 24-year-old was in the ring last November, he knocked Robinson out and turned him into a meme on the undercard of an exhibition bout between Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr.
Askren, who will be making his pro boxing debut, is well-versed in combat — albeit, with a major caveat. Askren, a former Bellator and One welterweight champion, is known as a grappler and doesn’t have a history of showing the pugilistic chops to test Paul, who has proved to be a lucrative attraction. Paul will be headlining the first fighting event at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the home of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons and the SEC championship game.
Ben Askren says he isn’t worried about boxing Jake Paul based off the strikers he’s fought during his MMA career.
It’s the type of feat that aligns with Paul’s stated ambitions for the sport.
“I truly believe that I will become the biggest prizefighter in the world and the highest-paid prizefighter in the world,” Paul said in an ESPN piece published in January.
Both of those things don’t necessarily have to include facing better competition — and Paul has said as much.
“I don’t want to fight anymore unless it’s massive,” Paul told ESPN’s Marc Raimondi in January. “I want every time Jake Paul fights to have an electricity in the air that everyone can feel and people have to tune in. I’m gonna challenge myself, I’m gonna find the right opponent, and I’m gonna stay active.”
When he has fought, he has trained seriously for each of his fights, with twice-a-day workouts and a rigorous regimen. And as long as Paul’s events keep selling, he will be able to avoid a formidable challenge. But if the Ohio native keeps dominating clearly inferior opposition, he might be a tougher sell for casual fans looking for a little entertainment.
That could force him to up the ante and create some doubt about the outcome of his fights. If Paul continues boxing and keeps winning, the sport will likely continue to latch onto the YouTuber in hopes of attracting newer, younger fans. Paul is capable of putting on fights people want to watch, something boxing often fails to do.
Should Paul knock Askren out, and if the PPV sells well, don’t be shocked if Paul is back in the ring for another payday, as another celebrity, athlete or former fighter lines up to be next. But if the current trend continues, Paul might find himself having to face a legitimate boxer, if he wants to keep collecting big checks.
That might be the only thing to keep the turnstiles moving in the Jake Paul Circus Experience.