Social media star-turned professional boxer, Jake Paul, will return to action later tonight (Sun., Aug. 29, 2021) to face off against former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight champion, Tyron Woodley, inside Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland, Ohio. Before Paul — who is coming off a shellacking of former UFC Welterweight contender Ben Askren (see it here) — takes on “The Chosen One,” let’s take a deep look at the match up, as well as the rest of the action.
Askren had no business representing mixed martial arts (MMA) in the sport's quest to silence Jake Paul once and for all. And once fight night came around, he showed exactly why. Paul wound up knocking out “Funky” in a rather anti-climactic bout that didn’t live up to the hype (if we can call it that) that it had. All that did was give Paul more ammunition to attack the sport and more confidence to call himself one of the best boxers around. I mean, he did knockout Nate Robinson prior to that, so Canelo better look over his shoulder.
But, let’s get real here for a minute. Paul has obviously worked on his boxing skills and he isn’t a novice when it comes to throwing hands. And whether you’re one of his millions of followers or one of his biggest critics, you have to give him credit for taking a step up in facing former UFC Welterweight champion, Tyron Woodley. “The Chosen One” may not have had the best run prior to getting his walking papers from UFC — losing four in a row — but he’s shining now with the spotlight on him more than ever (sans his run as champion). I mean, no disrespect to Woodley, but when was he last time he was the center of the combat world’s attention and you — the fan and consumer — were eager to watch him throw down? He is living it up, as he should be, and likely getting paid very well to take part in his first boxing match. All the spotlight is on him (thanks to Paul) and he is making the most of it. You can’t be mad at him for making this transition — even if it is likely a one-time deal.
On to the fight itself ...
Woodley has proven that he has knockout power, as evidenced by his knockout win over Robbie Lawler, which was more than five years ago. But, it goes without saying that boxing in MMA isn’t quite the same when you put on the bigger gloves and use only your fists for the entire fight. And whether you love him or hate him, Paul has been putting in the work over the years to get his hands up to par. But, he hasn’t faced a good boxer, none whatsoever, and I am not too sure Woodley falls into that category. Hopefully, one day Paul will face a legit boxer, but for now Woodley is the next man up to get the bag and the opportunity to silence “The Problem Child.”
The drama for this fight has intensified over the last few days, with Woodley going bananas after one of Paul’s squad members got into it with his mother during a presser, which lead to a near-riot. And let’s not forget this head-to-head, as well as the intense weigh-in. Both men have done their part to sell the fight, all they need to do now is perform and try to live up to all of the promises they each made leading up to the bout. Will they do it? There is no telling. Everyone was hype for Ben Askren to throw hands with Paul and that was a dud. But Woodley is no Askren, he can actually strike. Whether or not he can do it in a real boxing match remains to be seen.
I would have liked to see one more big name boxer at this event. I get it, you can’t take the spotlight away from Paul, but if you're going to charge $59.99, give fight fans a bit more name value to convince them to fork over that much dough to see a YouTube star taking on a struggling MMA fighter.
How The ‘Prelims’ Look:
Amanda Serrano will defend her WBC and WBO Featherweight titles against WBC Super-Bantamweight champion, Yamileth Mercado. With a record of 40-1, Serrano is the proud owner of 30 knockouts and is a former seven-division champion. Yes, seven. Mercado, meanwhile, doesn’t have as extensive resume as Serrano, but she does have two title defense to her credit. She is a severe underdog against Serrano and she will have to be technically sound in order to pull off the massive upset.
Hard-hitting Heavyweights Daniel Dubois will face off against Joe Cusamano. Dubois has only been fighting professionally for a total of four years and has a record of 16-1 with 15 knockouts on his belt. Speaking of belts, he is the current WBA interim Heavyweight champion and the former WBO International Heavyweight champion. As for Cusamano, he is less experienced than Dubois with a record of 4-1-1 so there’s a reason Dubois is a heavy favorite in this one.
Ivan Barancyhk and Montana Love will throw down in Welterweight action. Love is 4-0-1-1 in his first six fights as a professional, while Barancyhk is 20-2 and has far more experience than his foe. After starting his career at a prefect 19-0, the former IBF Light Welterweight champion is just 1-2 in his last three bouts.
With a record of 6-0, Tommy Fury has a long way to go to fill the shoes of his monstrous brother, Tyson Fury. And that’s okay, he is still young in the game and has done great for himself so far. He has a lot riding in his fight against Anthony Taylor because if he can pull off the win, he could be next in line to fight Paul ... assuming “The Problem Child” defeats Woodley. Taylor, meanwhile, has been preparing for this fight by training with Paul, saying that just in sparring with the millionaire has paid him more than all of his fights in MMA. Disturbing to say the least. He is 0-1 as a boxer, so let’s not expect him to pull off the upset here. If he does, it will do wonders for his career and set him up for bigger things moving forward.
Charles Conwell is one of the better and more established boxers fighting at this event. The former Olympian is 15-0, and he has shown great speed and knockout power, and is the current IBF and WBC junior Middleweight champion. If your recall, Conwell was the man who knocked out Patrick Day in 2019, who ultimately passed away four days following the loss as a result of his injuries sustained in the bout. Conwell’s opponent, Juan Carlos Rubio, is undefeated at 18-0, but it’s not like he has been fighting world beaters over the course of his career. He has a big task in taking on Conwell, which will give him some much-needed credibility if he can pull off the upset.
Interest Level: 8 of 10
Let’s not kid ourselves here, whether you love or hate Jake Paul — or Tyron Woodley, for that matter — you are going to tune in. Now, I am not putting Paul on Floyd Mayweather’s level, but it’s the same effect “Money” had on all of his fans and haters — people will tune in regardless because they are either hoping for him to get knocked out, lose for the first time, or simply up his legacy. For Paul, it’s safe to say most combat fans want to see him lose while his social media following hopes he continues to prove his haters wrong.
And let’s not ignore the fact that just about every major MMA media outlet is in Cleveland right now covering this event instead of in Las Vegas covering UFC Vegas 35, which can’t make Dana White too happy. So yes, Paul is living rent free in White’s head and the fact that he is taking coverage away from him this weekend isn’t going to endear him to “The Problem Child.” Now, had it been on the same weekend as a big UFC pay-per-view (PPV), we would be singing a different tune. But ,SHOWTIME and Paul aren’t novices in the money-making world so they know better than to go head-to-head with UFC on that front.
But, the question remains: What happens if Woodley knocks out Paul? There are several fighters clamoring at the chance to step into the ring against Paul in hopes of being the one to silence the YouTube star, all while collecting a big paycheck. Should he lose, and bad, the aura will be gone, as will be the long line of people waiting for their chance. Paul is a draw, like it or not, and he can put butts in seats and eyes to streaming devices, which means as long as he keeps on winning, the fans will be watching, the money will keep rolling in and his options will only increase. A loss, though, might burst that bubble once and for all.
PPV Main Event:
Jake Paul vs. Tyron Woodley (cruiserweight)
PPV Co-Main Event:
Amanda Serrano vs. Yamileth Mercado (featherweight)
Ivan Barancyhk vs. Montana Love (welterweight)
Daniel Dubois vs. Juiseppe Cusumano (heavyweight)
Tommy Fury vs. Anthony Taylor (catchweight)
Charles Conwell vs Juan Carlos Rubio (super welterweight)