Sports Report

Fight by Fight, Jake Paul Strikes for Credibility

JFight by Fight, Jake Paul Strikes for Credibility:ake Paul has not had a quiet moment to think.

Between traveling to Miami to watch his older brother, Logan, fight Floyd Mayweather Jr. in June, training in Puerto Rico for a fight on Sunday and stirring controversy on social media, Paul has kept busy. He has not had time to assess his grip on combat sports since turning to boxing in 2018 or how he has changed the landscape since then.

“I think sometimes when you reflect, it’s good, but sometimes it’s bad,” Paul said in an interview. “So right now, I’m just head down. The train’s moving 100 miles per hour and I’m not slowing down for anybody.”

In just three fights, Paul, 24, has transformed from a novice to a main, if contentious, draw. Hard-core fans despise his ascent, some claiming his large social media following and celebrity — rather than years of traditional hard work — gifted him a pathway to the ring.

He also has enemies in the mixed martial arts community: Dana White, the president of Ultimate Fighting Championship, and its star Conor McGregor and other prominent fighters have insulted him. Paul said he enjoyed his adversarial role, and it is one he looks to continue.On Sunday, he will face Tyron Woodley, the former U.F.C. welterweight champion, at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Paul’s hometown, Cleveland. It is the first of Paul’s multifight contract with Showtime, which will sell the pay-per-view bout for $59.99. The scheduled eight-round boxing match will be contested at a 190-pound catchweight.

Woodley, 39, offers Paul his toughest challenge yet as a fighter. But if Paul wins, he said it will be proof that he can compete with top-tier talent.

“I’m going to show that even the highest higher-ups don’t have hands,” Paul said, referring to their fight skills. “I’m going to continue to expose that. I’ve done it once, and I’ll do it again.”

Paul and his brother lead a new trend among combat sports that blurs the lines between competition, entertainment and spectacle. In June, Logan, 26, fought Mayweather in an eight-round, non-sanctioned exhibition boxing match at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami. The particulars at first seemed outrageous: The elder Paul had fought just once before professionally, while Mayweather, viewed as the one of the greatest boxers ever, boasted a spotless 50-0 record.

But Logan survived until the final bell against most predictions, not even falling to the canvas.

Some fans on social media expressed their disappointment, claiming the fight was rigged. Mayweather historically has fought with a defensive, elusive style rather than seeking knockouts, but few expected that Paul, even with a nearly 35-pound weight advantage, could withstand eight rounds with him.
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Still, Paul’s relative boxing acumen was probably beside the point. The fight recorded over one million pay-per-view buys, overwhelming Showtime’s servers so drastically that they crashed, forcing the company to offer patrons a refund.

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“This is a new time, a new era, a new chapter in boxing,” Paul said. “There’s a new way to go about things. There’s new kids on the block.”

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