Ben Askren is not a fan of Jake Paul, but he gained a lot of respect for the social media influencer with his recent win over Tyron Woodley.
It wasn’t too long ago that Askren was stepping inside of the squared circle with Paul himself. “Funky” was the first real fighter that Paul faced, but not the best of striker. Paul ended up sparking Askren in the first round with a vicious knockout (see it HERE) and sent the former UFC fighter packing.
In stepped Woodley, who made his professional boxing debut against Paul last weekend in Cleveland, Ohio. While the former UFC welterweight champion landed a lot of good punches and nearly had Paul out along the ropes mid-fight, Paul still managed to outpoint “Chosen One” and walk away with another win over another UFC veteran.
Entering the fight the combat community was expecting Woodley to use his fighting chops and punching power to finally put an end to the Paul circus. That’s not the way it went down and it has forced combat veterans like Askren to reflect on the boxing match and pay respect to Paul.
“I thought Tyron was pretty solid for his boxing debut,” Askren said on Instagram Live (h/t Fight Hub TV). “I know a lot of you guys are pretty frustrated he didn’t beat up Jake Paul. Listen, that’s what I wanted to happen too. I wanted him to knock Jake Paul’s head off, he didn’t get it done.
“The other thing that happened, for me, I gained a lot of respect for Jake Paul. I know he got a TKO on me but I knew I wasn’t very good at boxing. I told all of you that I’m not a very good boxer I just think I’m better than he is. So when he got a knockdown on me, yeah whatever, he didn’t earn my respect. Watching him versus Tyron, I have a lot of respect for Tyron’s striking ability and I think Tyron won the fight but either way, it was a highly competitive bout and I think it’s pretty evident - and the only way you’re not gonna think this is if you really hate the guy and I don’t hate him, I’m whatever towards him - it’s pretty evident to me that he’s worked pretty hard at this and he’s pretty tough. He took some pretty big shots from Tyron and he kept on fighting. So in that respect, he has earned my respect, for sure, in a way that he didn’t in my fight or any of his fights previously.”
Considering Paul vs. Woodley ended in a split decision there have already been talks about a possible rematch. Woodley seems to be pushing for it and it may make sense for Paul to do the same. Askren believes that Woodley remains the biggest name available to Paul and vice versa, so the writing seems to be on the wall.
“I think him and Tyron happens again and here’s why: so while I’ll definitely admit that Jake is working hard at this and he has achieved a relatively high level of boxing proficiency, I think going from the level he’s at to a world champion level is a long ways off,” Askren said. “Tyron was a world champion in mixed martial arts and I think I’ve had the conversation with him and he would recognize that him versus a world champion in boxing is a tough matchup. It’s not gonna go all that well.
“Now in boxing, I think there’s less big-name guys than in MMA, for sure, and so you’re not gonna get to the big name boxers unless you go to the very, very top of the heap. If he goes to the top of the heap, he’s not gonna be competitive with them. He needs someone else whose a big name across the bill from him to sell the fight. If it’s him versus someone we’ve never heard of, it makes it not that interesting.... The fight that makes the most sense is him fighting Tyron again. There’s now a history, there’s a backstory, Tyron also has a big name, the first fight was competitive. Who else could you make a case for?”
What do you think, Maniacs? Will we see Paul vs. Woodley 2?