As boxing’s diehard fanbase wrestled with existential questions provoked by the Jake Paul phenomenon all last year, the YouTuber was laughing his way to the bank.
According to a report by Forbes published Friday, Paul collected approximately $40 million (before taxes) from his three performances – all wins – inside the ring in 2021.
Forbes notes that Paul, a former Disney child actor, generated an additional $5 million from what used to be his bread and butter but what is effectively now his side gig, posting videos on his YouTube account. Altogether, according to Forbes, Paul's 2020 earnings would have made him a candidate to take the No. 20 spot on the publication's Highest-Paid Athletes list, beating out boxing cash cow Canelo Alvarez, who was tied at No. 48 on the same list with $34 million. Paul’s ranking would also put him ahead of longstanding sporting stars such as NBA point guard Chris Paul and tennis player Novak Djokovic.
The controversial Paul (5-0, 4 KOs) had by all accounts a banner 2020. The newbie’s first ring win of that year was in May, a first round stoppage of former MMA fighter Ben Askren in Atlanta. The fight brought to a close Paul’s deal with Triller, whereupon he signed a multi-fight contract with Showtime to headline boxing main events on pay-per-view
The first bout on the Showtime deal saw Paul go up against another MMA practitioner, former UFC champion Tyron Woodley, on Aug. 29 in Paul’s hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. Paul won a split decision in an otherwise dull affair.
Paul’s next and last fight of 2021 was originally supposed to be against Tommy Fury, the half-brother of WBC heavyweight titlist Tyson Fury, but Fury suffered an injury. Called up as a replacement was, once again, Woodley, who had been clamoring for a rematch, anyway. They met at the Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida on Dec. 18 and this time Paul ended matters more definitively, knocking Woodley out with a brutal right hand.
Paul has reportedly set his sights on taking a break from actual fighting in the first quarter of this year in order to focus on building up his promotional label, Most Valuable Promotions, which boasts multi-division women’s champion Amanda Serrano as a client. BoxingScene.com recently reported that a fight between Serrano and undisputed lightweight champion Katie Taylor is being targeted for April 30 at Madison Square Garden.