Jake Paul vs. Tyron Woodley was not exactly what fans were hoping for.
Paul fans were hoping for another knockout ... and why not? The social media star has astutely selected his opponents previously, selecting foes that he was quite confident would end up on the wrong side of the highlight reel. Three pretty nasty knockouts in a row has demonstrated his strong eye in this regard, and Woodley fit several characteristics of past victims (older, smaller, sort of retired, not a boxer).
Woodley fans — or MMA fans desperate for their sport to withhold its final few shreds of self-respect — also wanted the knockout. Again, it was feasible! Unlike those previous Paul adversaries, Woodley has actually hurt quite a few people with his right hand and is not completely washed.
Nobody got what they wanted. Instead, we all watched a pair of mediocre boxers box mediocrely in the general vicinity of one another. Outside of Woodley’s one huge connection in the fourth round, there were no great moments of drama or stellar displays of pugilistic talent.
In truth, last night’s main event served as a worthwhile reminder of a simple but perhaps underappreciated fact: boxing is really f—ing hard. It is not mastered easily. A former UFC champ with a wrestling-based style is not going to be a good boxer after a single camp, nor is a social media star likely to have it all figured out after a mere three years of training and zero amateur experience.
I’m going to share an anecdote that I don’t believe has ever worked its way into any of my columns. Back in 2016, I was a 20-year-old undefeated amateur fighter from a well-known team, which meant that finding opponents was difficult. Several of my team mates were in similar situations, so our then-head coach came up with the solution: everyone was going to sign up for amateur boxing matches!
Our group of amateur MMA fighters — which, I must say, was a talented mix of decorated wrestlers, high-level grapplers, and slick strikers — transitioned to the ring. We worked additional boxing sessions with our team’s boxing coach, sparred together, and did all the prep necessary for short three round amateur bouts in some local gym.
Long story short: it went terribly. I lost a split-decision to some old jacked dude prior to getting pummeled by someone even skinnier and younger than myself like three weeks later. The collective team record was something like 2-14, and if we’re being honest, the wins came against scrubs.
Lesson learned: boxing is for boxers. MMA fighters, by and large, are simply not good at boxing inside a different venue, with different gloves, at a different distance. Hilariously, the amateur boxing venture disintegrated when the ABC ruled that our amateur MMA experience disqualified us from competing against fellow beginners — they thought we needed a step up in competition!
Back to the topic at hand: Jake Paul. He’s not going to miraculously fix all the flaws that were on display, the fatigue or reaching punches. He might get marginally better if he continues to work very hard, but even Paul himself sounds weary of future fight camps (understandable), explaining that he could use some rest post-fight.
In truth, it appears that Tyron Woodley represents his ceiling in boxing. Any foe more challenging and Paul will find himself in another ugly fight, but he’ll get hurt instead of scraping by with a win.
I’d bet that stupid Dillon Danis fight is sounding pretty good right about now.
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