Prior to his pro debut, Jake Paul saw a showdown with UFC superstar and boxing novice Conor McGregor as something of an end game in this sport.
The social media influencer and current cruiserweight prospect has since set his sights on much loftier goals—a blockbuster superfight with boxing’s pound-for-pound king and leading attraction Saul ‘Canelo ‘Alvarez (56-1-2, 38KOs).
“I want to go after Canelo in three years,” Paul deadpanned during a press conference held Tuesday afternoon in Los Angeles. “I want to be a world champion.
“So, if I’m just fighting guys who can’t hit me, how am I going to get better under those lights? How am I going to get that experience?”
With that, comes the selection of Tyron Woodley as his next opponent. The two will collide August 29 at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse, home of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers and where Paul called his childhood home. The bout headlines a Showtime Pay-Per-View event, with Woodley—a former UFC welterweight champion—making his pro debut against the wildly popular YouTube star who continues to progress as a boxer.
Paul (3-0, 3KOs) has yet to see the third round of a given pro fight. His pro debut was a complete mismatch, manhandling undersized and overmatched fellow influencer AnEsonGib inside of one round last January, three days prior to the 2020 Super Bowl in Miami Gardens, Florida. His career progress was stalled by the pandemic, not resurfacing until last November when he flattened former NBA star Nate Robinson in less than two rounds.
In his most recent start, Paul registered his quickest win to date in knocking out former MMA star Ben Askren in just 119 seconds this past April in Atlanta, Georgia.
Despite lacking pro boxing experience, Woodley (19-7-1, 7KOs in MMA fights) is viewed as by far the most experienced combat sports athlete and hardest puncher that Paul will have faced to date. The grudge match was pieced together by design, in part due to Woodley calling out Paul during fight week and immediately after his win over Askren as well as aiming to increase his level of competition as the unbeaten 24-year-old continues to further develop his brand in boxing circles.
“If I’m just fighting guys who can’t hit me, how am I going to get better under those lights,” admitted Paul. “How am I going to get that experience. Tyron Woodley is a perfect person to maybe get me to the third round for the first time ever.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox