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What Boxing Can Learn From Jake Paul

‍‍‍‍‍‍Since his now-infamous professional debut against fellow social media personality Ali Eson Gib back in January of 2020, Jake "Problem Child" Paul has been a polarizing figure in the sport of boxing.

For the diehard, watches-every-fight boxing aficionado, Paul has represented an issue from the very start. In some sense, the fact that a YouTube star was coming into the sport and making money most fighters could never fathom making without having to endure similar sacrifices didn't sit well with purists -- and you could see their point.

In a career that spans a mere four encounters, Paul was garnered a combined total of $3.4 million in guaranteed purse money. That's not including what he makes in advertisement dollars or back-end deals on pay-per-view sales or a white collar fight he had back in 2018 that netted him another seven figure payday.

To put that into perspective: Fighters such as Vasyl Lomachenko and Nonito Donaire have only gotten close to that kind of money after years of winning gold medals/world titles and beating legitimate fighters to boot.

Others felt he was not only generating money he didn't "deserve", but he was doing it in a sport he may not respect. However, considering he has shown marked improvements in some areas and continues to train and fight more consistently than a lot of ACTUAL fighters, it's hard to make that argument.

Still, it must be said, there are some that have taken Paul for what he is and have enjoyed the experience of watching him on his fight journey as such.

Frankly, I would fall into that latter group at this point. He's not must-see TV for me, but it's still a compelling watch. Who hasn't wondered what would happen if you took a relatively normal person and implanted them into a professional sport? Granted, it's certainly not the top end of the sport, but it's fascinating in its own way, nonetheless.

Personally, I would also say that I don't feel as though he has "robbed" any real fighters of anything. He hasn't taking up a spot. He created the spot in which he currently finds himself.

I can't go as far as to say he has genuinely converted would-be casual fans into long-term fight fans. Only tell can tell that story. Still, I can confirm it hasn't killed the sport like so many predicted it would.

Regardless of the position you take, there's something to be said about his run of fights, and more specifically the events surrounding those fights. Believe what you may, but boxing can learn a thing or two from the former Disney Channel star.

Trust me, these lessons shouldn't be considered groundbreaking. In fact, some will argue these truths should have already been self-evident. However, while boxing and its fans may have preached this gospel, it was Paul and his team that have actually practiced this evangel in recent times.

For starters, the biggest takeaway from the successful business run of Paul in boxing is that promotion is a team effort. While a promoter may hold the title, the fact of the matter is everyone from said promoter, to the fighters, to their teams have to pitch in. You just don't know what will click with the media and help push the fight forward.

With Paul and co., they never cut corners as it pertains to making some headlines. It might be his older brother Logan, it may be his trainer BJ Flores. It might obviously be Jake Paul himself or his big-named opponent. Regardless, someone involved is going to make some noise.

The idea that you can have two good-to-great fighters respectfully talking about game plans and working hard and expect to sell many pay-per-views is simply silly in the year 2021. Fans have too many options for where to spend their entertainment dollars. And they also have options for how to watch these events for free (illegally or not).

If you want them to sit down and pay, because they just can't risk missing this event, you need to get them emotionally invested in the fight. Xs and Os just don't do that.

One only has to look at the buy rate for Terence Crawford vs. Shawn Porter to see that more is required to sell a show most of the time. With one of the best fighters pound-for-pound on the planet taking on one of his toughest tests, Top Rank barely managed to crack the 130,000 mark.

And while it may seem unfair that Crawford should have to do anything more than fight exceptionally well, these are the times we live in. Fans want drama, and not just inside the squared circle.

And as I mentioned, it's about value for money at the end of the day. Which is why it makes total sense that Jake Paul and his handlers have put forth so much effort into their under cards. Through gimmick showdowns, big name appearances and built in rivalries, Paul has consistently ensured he has an intriguing line-up to go with the main attraction.

Whether it's world title fights including Amanda Serrano, celebrities trying their hand at the sweet science or including potential future foes in showcase bouts, Paul has always had a knack for keeping the evening fairly well balanced with fun as well and more serious boxing.

In fairness, that variety, along with his style of promotion, can at times come across more pro wrestling than boxing. Still, it's effective above all else. You can criticize the circus all you want, but it's still drawing people into the tent.

Finally, I would argue that Paul has illustrated just how important it is to keep a fighter active.

While you won't find me suggesting that Paul is leaps and bounds better than in his initial contest, he has progressed the way you expect a fighter to do so when they fight often. What's more, his events seem to show the same progression, which again can be attributed to activity.

In a nutshell: Fighters get better when they fight often and fans get familiar with and looked forward to watching fighters they know have fights consistently coming up.

Again, it's not something boxing didn't know, but it's nice to see a real world reminder of these truths.

Has the Jake Paul experience been perfect? Possibly not. However, I just don't see as much of the negative as I see the potential for some positive. He may in fact draw in new fans, he may help build future stars and he's taking the sport far more seriously than some fighters I could name (*stares at Mikey Garcia*).

Besides, it's a win-win for you if you truly despise Paul. Either he actually keeps winning and the sport does grow in the process or he likely gets knocked out cold and...you have that to enjoy.

He's truly harmless to the sport, we have to be willing to admit this fact.

The fact of the matter is boxing isn't perfect. With wide-spread mistrust of governing bodies, dodgy officiating, terrible decisions and out-right ducking from the top fighters themselves, the "Problem Child" is the least of boxing's real issues.

Thank you for taking the time to read, hope you enjoyed. Appreciate any and all comments, really do. Also, if you're interested, you can check out my predictions for Paul vs. Woodley 2 here and Joseph Parker vs. Dereck Chisora 2 here.

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