Jake Paul may only have two professional boxing matches under his belt, but he seemingly has the confidence and braggadocio of an all-time great.
The boxing novice Paul will step out of the celebrity boxing circle and challenge himself to a real fight when he faces former MMA champion and UFC fighter Ben Askren on Saturday in a Triller pay-per-view bout at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
"There's sort of a big difference and there's a big gap in between where I'm actually at and what the general audience will think,” said Paul. “Losing is not an option, quite literally. It just isn’t an option in my head. It’s not going to happen. I’ve put in the work and that’s why I’m confident in my ability and confident I will come out on top.
“I see myself as an elite fighter right now. A young prospect with a lot of motivation and a lot of hunger. I think people see me as a sh!tty amateur.”
Askren will certainly provide Paul and the public a true Litmus test to assess how far the YouTuber has advanced his boxing skills ever since making his pro debut last year. Askren is a decorated wrestler and not a professional boxer, but the 36-year-old is certainly in the hurt business, compiling a 19-2 record in MMA from 2009 to 2019.
“I use it all as gasoline in the gas tank to work harder every single day. I know that going into this fight and I know that for the past three fights I’ve had everyone wants to see Jake Paul lose. That’s why I work so hard every single day and surround myself with the best team and take this so seriously. Because this fight means everything,” said the 24-year-old Paul.
“But I’m excited again to show my ability on Saturday against Ben, who is a world class fighter.
“I want to continue to challenge myself with my opponents and continue to build up my level of competition and make history with historic events and break pay-per-view records and fight big, big names.”
One big name that Paul has been angling toward in recent months is another MMA fighter in former UFC multi-weight champion Conor McGregor.
"I think we both are on a road to each other," Paul said. "You know he wants another boxing fight, he wants to fight Manny Pacquiao — he would get toasted. He just keeps on taking [losses] … I think him fighting me would not only be his money fight, but it would technically be the 'easiest' challenge right?
"I think fighting Jake Paul would probably be easier than fighting Manny Pacquiao and it would be just as big, and I think we're a lot closer to a Jake Paul-Conor McGregor fight than anyone thinks — I think it could happen in the next 24 months."
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist, writer and broadcast reporter. He’s also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and MMA Journalists Association. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan, via email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at]gmail.com or on www.ManoukAkopyan.com