Undefeated boxers Jake Paul and Tommy Fury will finally throw down this Sunday (Feb. 26, 2023) on ESPN+ and FITE+ pay-per-view (PPV) from Diriyah, Saudi Arabia. And no major combat sports event — including this one — would be complete without a “Fighter on Fighter” breakdown examining strengths, weaknesses, paths to victory and more.
We’ll have a detailed analysis of “TNT” a little later today.
I’ll confess that I thought Paul had overextended himself last time out against Anderson Silva. The Jake Paul that lost rounds to Tyron Woodley would not have been able to defeat even an aged “Spider,” but that’s not who showed up to fight in October 2022. Paul showed off a new level of combination punching, comfort in the pocket, and defensive awareness, proving that Paul has continued putting in the time.
He’s not resting on his laurels either, expanding his focus to MMA training as well for a later crossover into the PFL smart cage. We’re not quite there yet, so let’s take a closer look at his boxing skill.
From the beginning, Paul has handled this whole boxing endeavor with intelligence. He’s got the resources to train with legitimate boxers and coaches, and he’s fully utilized those opportunities to develop his skill quickly.
Historically, Paul ensures he’s the bigger man with the larger reach. He capitalizes on that range advantage with an active and pretty quick jab. In general, he does a nice job of pumping his lead shoulder to hide that strike. He doubles and triples the jab up well, often targeting the body. Like many young boxers, Paul does occasionally stick around too long after the jab, which is how Tyron Woodley was able to line up his cross counter.
On the whole, Paul does well to work the body. He touches the torso often with the jab, and he commonly goes low with his cross too. Very often, Paul flicks a jab high to distract his opponent then takes the 2 downstairs. Sometimes the left hook follows, but Paul is also pretty willing to hook directly off the jab.
Most of Paul’s game revolves around setting up his right hand, typically as a straight or overhand. At distance, Paul will commonly follow up his jab, double jab, of jab high-jab low with a cross down the middle. He throws the shot well and always has, crisp with natural power and snap.
Much of Paul’s body work serves to set up his overhand. It’s his best punch, and he’s very willing to commit his weight fully to the shot. He doesn’t go to it too often though; Paul mixes it up enough to surprise his foe over the top. He’ll also occasionally pair his overhand with an uppercut, a nice way to circumnavigate the guard.
It’s a credit to Paul’s athleticism and natural power that he’s always been able to throw with power from his back foot. That’s typically tough to learn, but Paul was able to flatten Nate Robinson in his second pro fight with a pair of well-timed counter right hands as Robinson rushed forward. I’m not implying Robinson knew how to box at all, but it still takes skill and coordination to time a wild rush forward like that.
He managed to crack Ben Askren in similar fashion, and he also landed some heavy counter shots on Woodley, prompting further hesitancy.
That’s really the bulk of Paul’s game. He stays reasonably light on his feet (until tired at least), has an active and effective jab, and can drop a bomb of a right hand if given the opportunity. He does decent work to the mid-section and rarely gets too out of position.
Against Silva, the same game plan was elevated. Paul still kept an active jab, good feints, and touched the body commonly. However, there were a pair of notable traits that really impressed me.
First and foremost, Paul kept his composure defensively. Silva excels at freaking fighters out! It’s what he does, and as a pretty rookie boxer with less than two dozen rounds in the ring, it would make a lot of sense if Silva could draw a bad reaction from Paul. When Silva got aggressive and started his wild feint sequences, Paul kept his hands tight, moved his head, and fired smart jabs back when it made sense. If he was on the ropes, he made it a priority to circle off.
It was smart and safe work. Paul ensured that Silva didn’t land anything too devastating, allowing the younger man to circle back to safety and resume his volume attack.
As the fight wore on, Paul grew more confident without making mistakes. His knockdown of Silva was really beautiful stuff. “The Spider” was down on the cards and forced to make something happen, so Paul set him up. As Silva advanced, Paul flashed a jab to raise the guard, used a pair of body shots to score a new angle, then continued his combination upstairs.
It was a genuinely great combo.
Tommy Fury may have a better professional record than previous Paul foes, but this feels like a step back in competition for “The Problem Child.” Based on Fury’s recent performances, he deserves to be a major underdog here. For Paul, it’s a chance to beat up a young boxer rather than older MMA fighter, which adds more legitimacy to his cause.
For the rest of the Paul-Fury fight card click here.
Andrew Richardson, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt, is a professional fighter who trains at Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, California. In addition to learning alongside world-class talent, Andrew has scouted opponents and developed winning strategies for several of the sport’s most elite fighters.