By Dakota Busch
Jake Paul still has yet to fight a professional boxer, however, he now owns a knockout victory over a former professional fighter.
Paul, 24, is a Youtuber who has taken up the sport of boxing recently. He defeated former mixed martial arts champion, Ben Askren, 36, at the Triller Fight Club event on Saturday, April 17th at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia.
According to CBS, Paul came out fast against Askren, working off a jab that he used to Askren’s head and body. The referee deemed Askren unable to continue at the 1:59 mark in round one after suffering a right jab to the head.
“It’s been four months, I’ve been in training camp every day,” said Paul after his win to CBS. “I deserve this S–. I don’t know how many times I have to prove myself that this is for real.”
However, many don’t consider Paul to have a serious professional boxing career, despite
having three wins to his name. He turned professional with a first round TKO of fellow YouTuber, AnEsonGib, before brutally stopping former NBA star, Nate Robinson, in a viral knockout in his next fight.
The quick loss to Paul did not seem to bother Askren too much, as he was shown walking backstage smiling after the bout. Askren told ESPN‘s Ariel Helwani on Monday, April 19 that he made 30% to 40% more against Paul than any previous purse in his decade-long MMA career. His base pay of $500,000 was more than the $360,000 total he made in nine Bellator fights.
“I wasn’t nervous at all because at the end of the day, my life doesn’t change one way or the other,” said Askren in a CBS interview. “In MMA, I was always pursuing or defending a world title, and you know, today, I was doing a fun boxing match. If it turned out great, then great. If it turned out S–, then my life is the same. So there were really no nerves whatsoever.”
Besides the Paul vs. Askren match, the Triller event featured three other boxing matches. There were also live fans in attendance as 100 lucky “Golden Ticket” winners were invited to be in the stands for the event. Performances from Justin Bieber, The Black Keys, Doja Cat, Saweetie, Diplo and Major Lazer were featured. Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, Too $hort, and E-40 made appearances.
The Triller Fight Club card headlined by Jake Paul’s knockout win over Ben Askren will likely go down as one of the most successful pay-per-views of 2021. The event sold over 1 million pay-per-views with final numbers for the show still being calculated.
“Why was the public so interested in two guys who weren’t very good at boxing?” Askren said to ESPN. “It’s kind of mind blowing.”
Despite being a popular Youtuber, Paul has reached his current level of fame by leveraging his distasteful and often offensive internet persona. Whether it was the original rise on the platform Vine, evidence of him looting a mall during the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests, or the recent FBI raid of his home, he thrives off of negative media portrayal. His recent entry into the world of professional boxing is just another example of his ability to draw attention through both criticism and headlines. Therefore, making the public interested in how serious he is about this new career path.
Even though the headlines surrounding Paul are negative, president of the World Boxing Council (WBC), Mauricio Sulaiman, said he supports what Paul is bringing to the sport.
“Anything that promotes boxing, anything that brings new eyeballs to the sport – new interest, new enthusiasm – has to be supported,” said Sulaiman to ESPN.
It remains unknown as to when Paul will face off against a current professional boxer. However, he is more than serious about making the sport his own.
“I truly believe that I will become the biggest prizefighter in the world and the highest-paid prizefighter in the world,” said Paul in an ESPN interview.