Jake Paul has drawn career-long criticism for having never faced a true boxer.

In the end, however, it was Tommy Fury who picked up his first meaningful win as a pro.

The 23-year-old boxer from Manchester, England overcome a late knockdown to outpoint his longtime rival in their cruiserweight grudge match some two years in the making.  Mike Ross (75-74) was the lone judge who ruled in favor of Paul, overruled by judges Omar Mintun (76-73) and Daniel Van de Wiele (76-73) who had each had Fury winning six of the eight rounds in the ESPN+ Pay-Per-View headliner Sunday evening from Diriyah Arena in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia.

“I created my own legacy,” stated Fury, whose older brother Tyson Fury (33-0-1, 24KOs) is the reigning lineal/WBC heavyweight champion. “I am Tommy Fury.

“This to me was my world title fight.”  

The celebrity status of both boxers—particularly Paul—created an event that garnered international exposure and a variety of sports royalty in attendance. The lack of actual boxing experience between the two was evident shortly after the opening bell. Referee Hector Afu had to issue two warnings within the first minute of the fight for both to fight cleanly and to honor his in-ring instructions.

Paul went to his jab once action resumed, which was the most effective weapon by either boxer until the closing moments of the round. Fury caught Paul with a left hook to ignite a ten-second drill before Paul regained his composure.

Fury snapped back the head of Paul with a stiff jab midway through round two. The sequence came just as Paul dropped his gloves in a failed bid to taunt the Brit. Fury was aware of Paul’s money punch—the overhand right—and managed to block or slip most that came his way. Paul managed to connect late in the round, which Fury turned into a grazing shot as he turned his head just enough to minimize impact.

Paul returned to the jab in round three. Fury sought success with his own stick but failed to employ the box-and-move instructions from his father and head trainer John Fury that worked earlier in the contest. Paul connected with a left hook in the final minute of the round, followed later by an overhand right.

Fury surged ahead with his strongest three-minute stretch of the fight in round four. The jab was the weapon of choice for the four-year pro, while Paul favored to the point of telegraphing his overhand right.

Paul was deducted a point in round five, as he was disciplined by the referee for pulling down the back of Fury’s head. The 26-year-old Paul responded with a left hook on the other side of the break.

Fury also felt the wrath of the referee, who deducted a point from the 23-year-old Brit in round six. Fury otherwise enjoyed a big round, winning the battle of the jabs and also caught the American with a right uppercut on the inside.

A clash of heads produced a cut outside the left eyebrow of Fury in round seven. It came as Paul tipped forward head first while Fury attempted to land a right hand. Fury returned to a jab-and-hold approach that worked well throughout the fight.

For the second straight fight, Paul managed an eighth-round knockdown with the fight hanging in the balance.

Fury profusely protested to Afu that his fall to the canvas was caused by a slip. The cry fell on deaf ears, as it was ruled that Paul’s left jab produced the knockdown and not Fury’s foot slipping on the center ring logo. The sequence created high drama and tense moments, though not much in the way of sustained action down the stretch.

The knockdown was the difference on just one scorecard, though not enough to cheat Fury out of the win. He improved to 9-0 (4KOs), doing so by landing and throwing more punches. Fury was credited with landing 88-of-302 total punches (29.1%) according to Compubox, compared to just 49-of-157 (31.2%) for Paul.

To his credit, Paul (6-1, 4KOs)—a content creator-turned-boxer—accepted his first defeat.

“This is definitely a humbling experience,” said Paul, who turned pro just three years ago after gaining notoriety as a YouTube star. “I take it on the chin and will come back strong. I felt flat. I got sick twice in camp and injured my arm. But I’m not making excuses.

The spectacle came as part of a rivalry two years in the making.

The two began jawing at one another in early 2021, leading to Fury’s U.S. debut on the August 2021 undercard of Paul’s first victory over Tyron Woodley. Fury withdrew from their December 2021 meeting in Tampa, Florida due to a chest infection and rib injury. He never even made to the press conference for their canceled August 6 clash in New York City, upon learning that he was unable to travel to the U.S.

The ordeal finally led to a fight—though not closure.

“I plan to run it back,” said Paul, who has a rematch clause.

For now, Fury just plans to revel in victory.

“For the past two and a half years, this is all that consumed my life,” noted Fury, who trained through the birth of his daughter. “I want to dedicate this fight to my family back home. I miss you. This was for you.

“In my first main event, at 23 years old and the world on my shoulders, I persevered and pushed through it. This was my first main event and I’m only going to get stronger. If he wants to do it again, bring it on.” 

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox