Jake Paul’s unlikely journey from YouTuber to professional boxer hit a major speed bump when he suffered a split-decision loss to Tommy Fury in Saudi Arabia on Sunday.
After bouts against three former UFC fighters, a fellow YouTuber and a former NBA Slam Dunk Contest champion, criticism that Paul had yet to face a “real” boxer started to come down hard across the boxing community. Fighters saw Paul as a grifter who was using his celebrity to make millions by masquerading as a professional. Paul denied those claims, and he sought legitimacy when he stepped into the ring against Fury.
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Fury hadn’t been all that impressive in his career despite being undefeated, but with amateur experience and a half-brother who happens to be the WBC heavyweight champion (Tyson Fury), he appeared to be Paul’s toughest test to date.
Not only would the former “Love Island” reality TV star be Paul’s toughest challenge, he also would hand Paul his first defeat and prove that nothing beats actual boxing experience.
What a moment for @TommyTNTFury ???? #PaulFury pic.twitter.com/e7AU0VaaI9
— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) February 26, 2023
Did Tommy Fury expose Jake Paul?
The answer is yes because, while Paul claimed he was skilled enough to eventually challenge for a world title, we quickly found out that even a boxer with little experience would be technically superior to him.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing for Paul. Losing to Fury will challenge him to be better, now that his veil of invincibility has been lowered and he sees just how much work he needs to do to even scratch the surface of being a world champion. Will he step up to accept that challenge? He said he would activate his automatic rematch clause against Fury, but is he prepared to face the hard truth that just his athleticism and right hand won’t be enough to beat other professional fighters?
Paul had the element of surprise going for him in his previous fights. His opponents all underestimated his power and then touched the canvas when they least expected it. None of them had nearly the boxing experience that Fury has, and they weren’t able to adjust.
Heatin’ up ???? #PaulFury
???? @MostVPromotions pic.twitter.com/Oan6KciTkY
— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) February 26, 2023
From his days as an amatuer, Fury was trained to make adjustments, and for this fight he had trainers who could detect Paul’s bad habits. When the plan was put into practice, Fury prevailed by capitalizing on Paul’s mistakes, sniffing out his three offensive moves (up-jab, jab to the body, overhand right) and neutralizing Paul’s right hand.
Simply put, experience won.
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Fury was more active from the opening bell and refused to wait on Paul to get settled in. He used a sharp jab and constant movement to prevent Paul from firing the right. After a pair of close rounds to start, Fury found that Paul didn’t have a Plan B. Fury deployed an uppercut that routinely caught Paul whenever he ducked down to fire the right hand. He also outjabbed “The Problem Child.”
It wasn’t a master class by any means, but it demonstrated that a boxer with years in the sport has the foundation to pick up on simple tendencies.
What’s next for Jake Paul?
When Paul goes back to the drawing board, will he be dedicated enough to fix these problems? Fury certainly had the tools to take advantage of Paul’s inexperience. Paul said after the loss that he was dedicated to boxing and will face Fury again.
“I’ll come back. I think we deserve that rematch.”@jakepaul wants to run it back with Tommy Fury ???? #PaulFury pic.twitter.com/ifScegGO7k
— ESPN (@espn) February 26, 2023
But should he?
Paul probably can’t survive another loss. It would significantly weaken his marketing power. Much of his allure is that a YouTuber infiltrated the sweet science and used social media and natural athleticism to make millions. He exposed the sport’s lack of marketing to a younger demographic and captured the imagination of Generation Z. But that demographic has a very short attention span. How badly would back-to-back losses damage his credibility?
As much as Paul wants a rematch with Fury, maybe he should consider a blockbuster fight with fellow YouTuber KSI after he works on his skill set in training camp. He can take advantage of another boxing novice, cash a massive check and repair his cred. The competitor in Paul will want revenge, but a second fight with Fury isn’t going anywhere. The businessman in him may recognize that it is more important to protect his brand and an immediate rematch probably won’t give him the time he needs to fix his flaws.
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If Paul wants to continue his unlikely foray into boxing, he’ll need to make some difficult decisions. Is he a businessman or a boxer? It’s not impossible to be both, but it’s obvious that the boxing needs refinement.
He has more than enough money to dedicate himself to boxing, but that financial security also means he could pivot and try his hand at MMA. He doesn’t need boxing and could cut bait at any moment.
But considering the financial upside of boxing and his competitive spirit, chances are that we’ll see Paul-Fury 2 before the end of 2023.
“Don’t judge me by my wins,” Paul said during his post-fight interview. “Judge me by my losses. I’ll come back.”