Jake Paul’s plans for an extended ring absence heading into 2022 just grew by at least a few more weeks, though not by design.
BoxingScene.com has learned that Paul’s planned fight with Hasim Rahman Jr. has been forced to move off its August 6 date and likely canceled outright. The decision came hours after the New York State Athletic Commission called for a modification of the maximum contracted weight to 205 pounds. The bout—which headlines an August 6 Showtime Pay-Per-View event at Madison Square Garden in New York City—was originally announced to take place at the full 200-pound cruiserweight limit.
It now won’t take place at all, at least not on August 6.
The weight limit was always tentative, with Rahman Jr. required to submit to weekly weight checks by the NYSAC to confirm that the second-generation heavyweight could safely get down to a career-low mark in such a short amount of time. The most recent development in that process prompted the state commission to call for event handlers to raise the mark, though still not enough for the show to move forward even in modified form.
Rahman was also subject to a rehydration clause even if he made the 205-pound mark during the final weigh-in. Instead, his inability to get below 215 pounds in training camp has killed off the entire card. The show also included record-setting, seven-division champ Amanda Serrano (42-2-1, 30KOs) in the co-main event, returning to featherweight where she will defend her WBC/WBO/IBO titles in a consolidation clash with Argentina’s interim WBO titlist Brenda Carabajal (18-5-1, 9KOs).
It is unclear as this goes to publish when Serrano’s bout will be rescheduled, along the rest of the undercard which also included unbeaten Junior welterweight prospect Brandun Lee.
Rahman Jr.—whose father Hasim Sr. was the former lineal champion in 2001—has never weighed lighter than 211 ¾ pounds since turning pro in April 2017. The occasion came in his seventh pro fight, when he scored a four-round decision over Damion Reed. The 31-year-old Las Vegas-based heavyweight weighed 215 ¼ pounds in a second-round knockout of Nathan Bedwell last August in Atlanta. He was 224 pounds in a fourth-round stoppage loss to James McKenzie Morrison this past April 29 in his Las Vegas hometown.
Still, the allure of facing Paul (5-0, 4KOs)—along with the pay and notoriety that comes with such an assignment—prompted him to accept the fight once the content creator was in need of an opponent for the event. Rahman Jr. replaced Manchester’s Tommy Fury, who withdrew from the grudge match for the second time in less than eight months after it was learned that the unbeaten light heavyweight was denied a travel visa to the U.S.
There is very much the possibility that it is Rahman who is replaced once Paul is ready to return.
Paul has never weighed more than 191 ¾ for any fight, though it likely won’t be a concern for when he next returns. He weighed that amount in his January 2020 pro debut when he knocked out AnEson Gib in the opening round. He was 191 ¼ for his most recent win, a highlight-reel sixth-round knockout of Tyron Woodley (0-2) in their rematch last December 18 in Tampa.
Both fights with Woodley aired live on Showtime PPV, with Paul declaring after the rematch that he intended to take a long break before returning to the ring.
He spent that time securing a blockbuster fight for Serrano, who fought at lightweight for the second straight time in a narrow split decision defeat to undisputed champ Katie Taylor in the first-ever women’s fight to headline at MSG. Paul’s Most Valuable Promotions partnered with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing to present the event, which generated a live gate of more than $1,450,000 from a sold-out crowd of 19,187 and with the pair of top pound-for-pound entrants earning healthy seven-figure paydays.
One day after the fight, Paul announced his plans to return to the ring. He originally targeted August 13 for his return, before moving the event up by one week.
A new date will now have to be sought, potentially along with an opponent that can make the weight as originally established by Paul.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox