Combat is very often entertaining regardless of the stakes. There is definite satisfaction in watching elite, well-prepared athletes attempt to outwit each other ... that’s how the best fights come together. At the same time, there is still plenty of room at the table for less divisionally relevant match ups, and that concept goes all the way down to rock bottom. Whether talking about PRIDE FC glory days or Fight Circus insanity, sport and spectacle go hand-in-hand in the combat business, provided the entertainment factor is there.
That’s why, in general, I’ve never been a Jake Paul hater. The guy is obnoxious, sure, but the earliest matches of his boxing career were wildly entertaining. He essentially murdered a flailing NBA star then embarrassed the MMA world as a whole by face-planting Ben Askren inside two minutes.
The bouts themselves and the subsequent drama online were a blast!
Enter Tyron Woodley. His first match vs. Jake Paul was not the best boxing match of the year. It started off well enough, and Woodley had his one big moment, but afterward, it became a tired slog for the second half. There’s a reason Paul was ready to move on to a new opponent: the fight just wasn’t a whole lot of fun.
The rematch, as it turns out, was not a joyful experience, either. The first five rounds of Paul vs. Woodley 2 were brutally dull. Neither man could seemingly throw more than one punch without clinching up, resulting in a referee, two corners, and crowd that were clearly frustrated with the lack of action. Paul was looking real damn tired, and the atmosphere appeared unlikely to change.
Fortunately, Paul managed to bail himself out. If he doesn’t land that overhand right, the bout lasts another six minutes, and its unwatchable nature would have really hurt his image regardless of which way the judges’ coin flip landed. Instead of that fate, Paul scored a tremendous walk-off knockout, and that’s all anyone will really remember.
That’s why Paul’s next opponent is so important. If he wants to keep this thrill ride going, he cannot risk another gun shy fight. Ideally, he’ll find another Ben Askren-tier name who is likely to produce the highlight without the risk of boredom.
The other option is to step up to someone we really know we’ll bring the fight, someone like Nate Diaz. That’s the high-risk option, but it’s at least hugely marketable right now. If he puts on a stinker next, well, that could cost quite a few pay-per-view (PPV) buys even if a better opponent is found in the future.
Last night was almost a disaster for the Jake Paul boxing brand. If he’s smart, he’ll choose his next foe carefully.