Can Jake Paul really fight? Tommy Fury grudge match offers YouTube star chance to be taken seriously
Sitting in the stands for the Lionesses’ 6-1 win over Belgium this week, a conversation broke out between an extended family over the outcome of Sunday night’s fight.
The consensus was that Jake Paul would be the one celebrating against Tommy Fury in a clash that has been a particularly pantomime affair in its build-up, even by boxing’s not-so lofty standards.
The family in question are not boxing aficionados; not the sort to be regularly turning to pay-per-view for the big fight nights; but all planned to tune in for the eight rounds of boxing from the Diriyah Arena in Riyadh.
In contrast, Carl Frampton, as a former boxer, was initially irritated by the attention meted out to both Fury and Paul, fighters he rightly calls novices, when the clash was first hyped. But slowly he has come round to the idea of it, due to its unexpected audiences.
He said: “At the very start, I was like, ‘what is this?’ As a former boxer, it did annoy me a little bit that these guys were getting such attention.
“But my wife, who hates boxing, wants to watch. My daughter, who never mentions boxing, wants to watch this. Grannies in the street are asking me about it and, as a former fighter, I want to see it. Like it or not, this is big.”
This is not the pinnacle of boxing, far from it. Between the pair, they have just 14 fights between them and a combined total of 50 rounds. For the most part, Paul’s opponents have been mixed martial artists; in Fury’s case often easy fodder to give him the necessary steps up along the professional boxing route.
Both have gained notoriety on social media, Fury through his Instagram account following a stint on Love Island, Paul as one the world’s most-followed YouTubers.
The question is can Paul, for all his loud, brashness, ever truly be taken seriously as a pro boxer? Carl Froch is among those far from convinced by his ability, although his perspective has perhaps been a little addled by the American’s bizarre decision to call him out.
Froch’s response is simple. He said: “I’m a four-time world champion. Two WBC titles, you’ll never, ever have one of them. You’re not good enough. You’re not a professional fighter. You’re a performing clown. That’s all you are. Keep my name out of your mouth until you’ve done something in the game.”
The question is can Jake Paul, for all his loud, brashness, ever truly be taken seriously as a pro boxer?
Froch also poured scorn on Paul’s punching ability, questioning whether he had really had enough power to send Anderson Silva to the canvas as he did in his last bout.
As ever in boxing, the key is money and that people seem to be willing to pay to watch Paul in the infancy of his career. In his six pro fights, he has reportedly banked something in the region of £50million, not the income of a fledgling fighter. It is estimated to be more than 50 times that of his opponent on Sunday.
The boxing traditionalists will take a little while longer to come around to the merits of Paul in the ring. Promoter Frank Warren says people can only begin to take him seriously as a fighter depending on the outcome of this weekend.
“If Jake wins this, he’s beaten an undefeated guy with an amateur pedigree as well,” he said. “This is a step up in pedigree for Jake. You can’t take away from him the fact that he’s training like a demon.
“But Tommy can punch, and I expect him to stop him. We’ll see if Jake has a chin and what he’s like under pressure.”
The WBC have said Paul will get a ranking if victorious, with Warren responding to the merits of that by simply stating: “I’m not going to comment.”
Looking ahead to the fight, the promoter added: “These are two novice fighters who are making a truckload of money because they’ve grabbed the attention of the public, and not through their deeds in boxing necessarily.
“I watched Jake fight out in the States and the place was rammed. When he won, it erupted. But on Saturday night, he will have to properly step up and really fight. Boxing loves a grudge match — and that’s just what this is.”