Jake Paul’s next boxing appearance will take place against former UFC fighter Ben Askren this April on pay-per-view (PPV) and few people are betting against the YouTube star.
Paul, who made a huge splash in combat sports by knocking out former NBA star Nate Robinson on PPV last November, is trying to turn his social media fame into a legit professional boxing career. The YouTube sensation has called out the likes of Conor McGregor, Dillon Danis, and even Michael Bisping over the past few months, but eventually settled on Askren.
While Paul will be getting inside of the ring with his first professional fighter it’s going to be against a guy who made a living in MMA taking people down and beating them up with his wrestling. Askren is not a striker and never really showed that side of his game throughout his career. It was an odd choice for Paul, but it sets him up for success in his big PPV return this April.
That said, not everyone is convinced that Askren is going to roll over and allow Paul to punch him back into retirement. Askren’s long-time friend and fellow Bellator MMA great, UFC lightweight contender Michael Chandler, believes that “Funky” has more to offer on the feet and will give Paul a run for his money when the two meet in a few months.
“I think it’s a great idea, No. 1,” said Chandler during a recent episode of “The Jim Rome Show.” “No. 2, Ben Askren is one of the most remarkable human beings in the entire planet. Everybody sees the big ‘fro and the loud voice, just attitude, but Ben is one of the most giving and full-of-humility men I’ve ever met in my entire life. He’s one of the reasons I got into mixed martial arts. He’s a heck of a competitor. The funny thing is, it doesn’t surprise me. If you know Ben well enough, nothing should ever surprise you.
“The man is a wild card; he marches to the beat of his own drum. Now, what I will say about the actual matchup, Jake Paul is not a great boxer. Ben Askren is not a great boxer. Ben Askren, quite frankly, the weakest of his attributes is his ability to strike on the feet. But I think, depending on the referee, depending on the ruleset, depending on how the promotion is set up, Ben is going to be able to get his hands on Jake, do some dirty boxing, some underhooks, some pushing, some pulling.”
Chandler, who has been around MMA and combat sports his entire life, is certainly in the minority in thinking Askren is going to overwhelm Paul on the feet. But given’s Askren’s athletic acumen and knack for pressuring his opponents Chandler believes the former UFC welterweight will be able to tire Paul out in the early rounds and eventually find a finish.
“We’re going to see, and I think Ben may be penalized for it,” Chandler said. “Ben may be pulled off of him, maybe broken up a lot, but you’re going to see Ben close the distance, Ben get his hands on him. You’re going to see Ben wear out Jake Paul because there’s a difference between boxing at distance and throwing punches and having a guy in your face, putting pressure on you, pushing you back up against the ropes. You’ve got to remember, yes it’s boxing, but Ben knows how to move, maneuver and manipulate another human body, his opponent, with his hands.”
“So it’s going to be very interesting to watch the dirty boxing, watch the clinch game, and also watch Ben’s toughness. We saw Ben get knocked out cold, but listen, King Kong himself would have gotten knocked out by that Jorge Masvidal knee. Ben traditionally has a phenomenal chin, a great chin, and the wherewithal to be able to push Jake Paul around the boxing ring for eight three-minute rounds. Mark my words, I think he finishes Jake Paul later in the fight.”
It’s not the sexiest matchup of 2021 but the upcoming boxing match between Paul and Askren should produce a sizeable PPV output and create even more buzz around Paul’s search for greatness. It will also be an opportunity for Askren to save some face around the combat community after having his storied career redefined by a Jorge Masvidal flying knee in 2019.