Likes and Followers don’t win fights; can Woodley bring an end to The Problem Child’s circus? Nick Peet previews the big fight.
My regular column returns with something a little different this week; instead of championship boxing or a UFC title fight, let’s take an honest look at this weekend’s sports entertainment main attraction.
YouTube star Jake Paul aims to continues his role as ringmaster in the social celebrity-driven faux boxing circus, taking on former UFC champion Tyron Woodley.
‘Three fights, three wins, three knockouts’ may sound like a prospect to get excited about. But none of Paul’s three previous opponents had any actual boxing experience. A fact shared by his foe this Sunday.
So why am I giving it any attention, you might ask.
Numbers, pure and simple.
To be clear, I am not against the Paul Brothers. Both Jake and older sibling Logan have built themselves an audience on YouTube, which they’ve managed to bring over to the ring, allowing them to live out their wildest fantasies as prizefighters.
Jake Paul on his boxing career 👀 pic.twitter.com/SVgHVJjwm8
— DAZN Boxing (@DAZNBoxing) August 25, 2021
Is it real? Hardly. Will either of them ever compete at the top of the sport? Definitely not. But will both continue to make a fortune via pay-per-view sales thanks to their social media influencer pulling power? Absolutely.
That is as long as Jake continues to win the fights he and his team are hand-picking. Unlike Logan, who’s cash-grab public spar with Floyd Mayweather was as far away from competitive boxing as you’re ever likely to see, Jake’s attraction is that he’s actually winning.
To his audience it doesn’t matter that his previous three opponents had little fight or ambition to start with. But that is what intrigues me about this weekend’s matchup; Tyron Woodley is/was a real fighter.
On September 8th 2018, making the fourth defence of his UFC welterweight title, Woodley submitted Darren Till in two rounds to high acclaim. I was sat cageside in Dallas, Texas and if you had told me then it would be the last time Woodley would win a fight I’d have thought you were nuts.
🥊👤 Tyron Woodley with a dominant performance against Darren Till, never looked in danger!
And he gets his black belt awarded to him in the ring after his victory, what a night for him!
— The Sportsman (@TheSportsman) September 9, 2018
But just six months later his MMA career went into freefall with the first of four consecutive losses inside the Octagon. Yet despite the decline and the fact he’s now 39, Woodley always had a great chin and, down at 170lb at least, he could also punch.
Paul, 23, actually isn’t bad for a novice pro. He’s clearly taking the sport seriously and a future showdown with Tyson’s younger brother Tommy Fury, who also features on this card, is an increasingly interesting attraction.
To get there though he’s got to be sure the first real gamble of his fighting life has been timed to perfection.
Former Olympic wrestler Ben Askren sold his chin to Paul to bank the biggest check of his life in April. Hopefully, Woodley has a little more respect for himself and his legacy to roll over and willingly become a meme courtesy the fists of the former Disney channel star!
Paul’s size, reach and youth shouldn’t matter if there’s any real fight left in the old dog. Woodley likes to fight on the back foot, timing that big right hand as his foes come charging forward, something Paul has been able to do without peril previously.
Equally as predictable, however, would be Woodley circling the ring for eight tedious rounds with little engagement, utilising his experience to negate the fight and frustrate Paul and his followers by the sheer lack of action.
Let’s at least hope it’s the former.
TIP: Woodley by TKO or Paul on Points – +175 or +800