Jake Paul is not a dumb guy.
Say what you will about the influencer boxing circuit he helped create and whether you’d part with hard-earned cash to watch it, but the guy’s got loads of business sense.
Which is why he quickly reclaimed the narrative on Monday.
The post-weekend air was thick with a stench lingering from Saturday’s debacle in England – where Paul’s older brother Logan needed a whip and chair to deal with the competitive farce of Dillon Danis, and former conqueror Tommy Fury had to rationalize his way to getting a majority decision over KSI, whose in-ring acumen closely resembled a candied-up schoolkid at recess.
To label it a joke was kind.
And to spend $60 or more to see it was lunacy.
In fact, it’s no stretch to suggest the twin dose of awful might finally have dealt a damaging blow to the entire concept and relegated it to a sideshow circuit where purists have long insisted it belongs.
But the “Problem Child” isn’t quite ready to cede the spotlight.
Rather than taking time to circle wagons and let weekend memories fade, Paul jumped right back into the mix with an announcement that he’ll be back in front of the cameras come December 15.
“Jake’s star power and popularity have proved that he has what it takes to command massive audiences worldwide and become the biggest name in boxing,” Nakisa Bidarian, co-founder of Most Valuable Promotions, said. “In just eight professional fights so far, Jake has already demonstrated his historical commercial draw, that he is a force to be reckoned with, and that he is on the way to making an everlasting impact on the sport inside and outside the ring.”
Neither a venue nor a foe was named in the release, whose clear aim was to cleanse palettes by shifting focus toward Paul’s recent accolades from ESPN and Sports Illustrated and a partnership with DAZN that’ll guarantee eyes on both him and promotional client Amanda Serrano.
Incidentally, Serrano will break another barrier this month when she defends featherweight belts against Danila Ramos in a bout scheduled for 12 three-minute rounds at the Caribe Royale Resort in Orlando, Florida. It’s the first women’s unified title bout to be fought under the same rules as men.
“If the women want three minutes and 12 rounds it’s good for them,” former New York State Athletic Commission chairman Randy Gordon told Boxing Scene. “However, it will slow the pace of their bouts, which are much faster paced than most of the male bouts. Despite the fact that the WBC says a study showed women are more at risk of injury, I don’t believe there is enough info available to say that.”
While Serrano provides the steak, Paul is left to supply the sizzle.
And now that he’s saved a date, speculation can begin about who’ll share the pre-Christmas stage.
A rematch with Fury is high risk and high reward in that it ensures mainstream attention by putting Paul in with the most respected performer in the part-time boxer circus, but also enhances danger after the unbeaten Brit schooled him for most of eight rounds when they met in February.
A second loss to the heavyweight champ’s brother could permanently pop the hype balloon.
Fury staked his claim to a second go-round after his Saturday win, suggesting he was done with so-called crossover foes like KSI and ready to go all-in with the Ohio-born sibling pair.
“Any of the Pauls want it,” he said, “I welcome it with open arms.”
Gordon, too, is hoping the return bout comes next, but it might make some sense for Paul to take a step in the interim and rid the scene of a completely forgettable KSI, who spent his post-fight mic time lamenting what he claimed was the “robbery” that cost him the verdict against Fury.
The assertion was nonsense, but Fury did have trouble performing against a guy whose style consisted of standing sideways, bouncing up and down and rushing in for perpetual clinches.
The robotic Fury was successful whenever he took a step backward and fired lead left hooks through KSI’s leaky defense, and it’s a breach that a raw but fundamentally superior Paul ought to recognize and exploit more noticeably with a superior ring IQ and heavier hands.
The announce team of Todd Grisham, Jonathan Coachman and Misfits Boxing co-president Mams Taylor called for the KSI-Paul bout next, labeling it as the Super Bowl of crossover boxing. And Paul, while chastising KSI for his reaction to the majority decision, seemed to indicate it was a score he could settle.
“To see KSI just disintegrating, acting like the sorest loser in the world – I expected that,” Paul said. “This kid’s ego is out of control. Kicking the screens, crying, asking for an appeal. This guy is 30 years old acting like this. Take it like a man, you lost.”
Challenge accepted, said Taylor, who doubles as KSI’s manager.
“If Jake fights KSI and loses to KSI, that’s it for him. It’s done,” he told The MMA Hour.
“Where does he go from there? He’s going to have to start playing volleyball or darts or something. I think he’s got a lot more to lose in that sense.”
Gentlemen, start your insults.
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This week’s title-fight schedule:
No title fights scheduled.
Last week's picks: 2-0 (WIN: Alimkhanuly, Tszyu)
2023 picks record: 38-12 (76 percent)
Overall picks record: 1,288-420 (75.4 percent)
NOTE: Fights previewed are only those involving a sanctioning body's full-fledged title-holder – no interim, diamond, silver, etc. Fights for WBA "world championships" are only included if no "super champion" exists in the weight class.
Lyle Fitzsimmons has covered professional boxing since 1995 and written a weekly column for Boxing Scene since 2008. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter – @fitzbitz.