Internet celebrity/professional boxer Jake Paul is getting ready for his next fight, as he makes his Showtime pay-per-view debut against former UFC champion Tyron Woodley on Sunday, August 29.
It’s expected to be the toughest test yet for the 24-year-old Paul (3-0, 3 KO), who is taking a big boxing event back to his hometown of Cleveland, which is not exactly a hotbed for A-list fight shows.
Paul spoke with MMA Fighting about that fight, some possible other future opponents, and how he’s navigating a unique boxing career.
On criticism of his opponents
“Most pro boxers build up their records, their promoters build up their records, they throw them in there with tomato cans. So they get experience and they get knockouts, so it looks good on their records. And no one’s really watching those early fights. They’re not selling tons of pay-per-view, the critics aren’t there to judge them. They’re just letting them do their thing. But with me, it’s been all eyes on since day one.
“I’m being treated like a world champion with the pressure and who people want me to fight. I embrace it, but I somewhat agree, like, I want to continue to fight harder and harder people each time, and make my fights bigger and bigger each time. It’s a little bit different of a journey, and I’m definitely being held to a higher standard, but I think that’s helped me become a better fighter, because I feel I have to live up to that higher standard.”
On Tyron Woodley being “legitimately dangerous”
“100 percent! And I know that, and that’s why I have to be super, super sharp. People forget that boxing is the first form of martial arts. When the bell rings in MMA, it’s two guys standing on their feet. It’s a skill that Tyron’s been practicing way longer than I have. However, I believe in my ability, I believe in my skill and just my natural talents. You’re either born with speed and knockout power, or you’re not. And I just so happen to have that.
“No matter how good Tyron is, I’m gonna still go in there and get the W. But yeah, he is serious, and we’ve taken him more serious than any opponent thus far.”
On what he expects from Woodley
“I expect him to start slow and try to feel me out, to take me into the later rounds, or at least try to, to be on his back foot moving away. Seeing my game plan. I think you’re gonna see a less aggressive guy who is gonna try and find my mistakes and take the fight into the later rounds.
“He probably thinks in his head that will help him because of his experience or conditioning. I don’t know, but I just see that how he’s fighting, sort of backing up. But I’m a real killer in there, so I’m gonna try to hunt him down. If he’s coming forward, he’s going to get walked into shots. If he’s on his back foot, I’m a hunter and I can go get him. I can fight both ways, which is great.”
On the MMA names on his recently posted “hit list”
“Dana might not let them fight, but they’re still on the hit list. I’ve had beef with Nate (Diaz) back and forth over social media. I beat up one of Nate’s boys in sparring. He just thinks he’s this, like, super tough guy — I mean, he is, right? But not in this world. Not when you come into the squared circle. It’s a whole different sport, buddy. So he can get the smoke, or his brother (Nick), or both in the same night. I see the guys they’re fighting, their striking ability, and you know, it’s whatever. I have to settle that beef.
“Same thing with Kamaru Usman. ... He and I have beef, too, going back and forth on social media. I forget even how it started. I have beef with way too many people. ... All of these guys can get the smoke, and I’m really ‘bout it. When I see anyone, any time, any place, I mean it. So let’s get it done. If it’s possible, then let’s get it done. I’m ready!”
On Conor McGregor
“He’s sort of lost that spunk and I think people are kind of second-guessing him. He’s not the same Conor, that’s for sure. It’s not as interesting, however I would still just like to beat him up, because I would want him to freak out in the ring and go crazy and lose his shit. I think it would be funny to see him break down like he did against Dustin Poirier.
“And by the way, it’s still a massive fight. Regardless of anything people want to say about Conor, you have to respect him for what he’s done, becoming really the face of the fight game. I don’t hate the guy. Do I like him? No, but you have to respect him. All I’ve said is I want to fight him and knock him out. Because A) it would be a big fight and big business, and B) give the people what they want. That’s one of the most talked-about fights to happen in the past year. Regardless of whether he’s winning or losing, I think people still want to see that.”
On the chatter of him fighting his brother Logan Paul
“I put (his name on the list) as a joke. Just trolling a bit. But people always ask us that, so sometimes we lean into it, like, ‘Maybe we’ll do it!’ But other days, like today, I’m just, like, ‘We probably won’t ever fight.’ Our parents don’t want us to do it. But it is something funny to sort of troll. Who knows what will happen, man? It’s 2021, anything’s possible.”
On Tommy Fury possibly being next after Woodley
“The thing I’ve made fun of Timmy for is, like, the only reason people know of you is because of your famous older brother. I didn’t even know you existed and you have no audience here in the U.S. We’re sort of still trying to gauge, like, do people even care about that fight? Is it a big fight? Can he actually fight? Is he really as good as they claim him to be? We’re still figuring out a lot of things. After I knock out Tyron, it’s back to the drawing board with the team to figure out who is the next big fight.
“I have to have an opponent that can draw pay-per-view numbers. I can’t take a step back because all eyes are on me. No one will want to watch me fight some unknown pro boxer or pro MMA fighter. I need to sell pay-per-views and people want big, star power names.”
“My career is just different. It’s such a unique situation. No fighter in the history of the sport has sold this many pay-per-views and had this much attention at 3-0. I’m building my career differently all while still challenging myself and trying to become the biggest prizefighter in the world.”