By: COOPER ALBERS / STAFF REPORTER
Halloween came early this year for many Jake Paul doubters following another decisive victory.
Paul defeated Anderson ‘The Spider’ Silva via unanimous decision on Saturday, October 29th. The legendary former UFC Middleweight Champ proved a worthy opponent for Paul, but a last-round knockdown secured Paul the victory. With this victory, Paul has moved to 6-0 as a professional boxer.
Before taking up boxing, Paul made his name as a social media influencer. Alongside his brother Logan, the brothers gained popularity on Vine before transitioning to YouTube. There, he amassed over 20 million subscribers.
It was during this time that Paul’s name became synonymous with controversy. The ‘Team 10’ founder displayed countless acts of childish and reckless behavior that eventually cost him his role on Disney Channel’s Bizaardvark.
However, in 2018, Paul transitioned to boxing, fighting fellow YouTubers in a massive wave of influencer boxing. Paul defeated Deji in his first amateur fight on the undercard of Logan Paul v. KSI. Shortly after, he defeated AnEsonGib in his professional debut.
Given his past, fans and fighters alike have been skeptical about accepting Paul into the combat sports community. They have challenged the legitimacy of his fights, questioned his opponent choice, and even called his bouts rigged. UFC Welterweight contender Colby Covington has even gone as far as to say Paul’s boxing career is an “Embarrassment to society” (Via The Sporting News).
However, in just a short time, Paul has graduated from fighting fellow influencers to headlining Showtime Pay-Per-Views, turning the heads of many initial doubters.
In July 2020, Paul appeared on the undercard of Mike Tyson v. Roy Jones Jr, where he made quick work of former NBA star Nate Robinson. In April 2021, Paul made a tremendous leap by fighting former Bellator and One Welterweight Champion Ben Askren. Once again, Paul made it look easy, knocking Askren out in the first round.
After the Askren knockout, Paul continued his rise by fighting former UFC Welterweight Champion Tyron Woodley in May 2021. Paul won the bout via split decision, which demanded a highly anticipated rematch. There, Paul would knock Woodley out once and for all in September 2021.
Still, many members of the boxing community continued to discredit his resume by questioning his opponent choice. Although Askren and Woodley were former champions, they were not only past their prime but never known for their striking ability.
One of Paul’s leading critics, UFC President Dana White, expressed his doubts concerning Paul’s motivation to fight actual strikers. In a 2021 interview following the Woodley fights, White noted:
“I guarantee you this, you ain’t gonna see Jake Paul calling Anderson Silva out… Jake? Jake? Jake?” (via MMA Junkie).
Despite being 47 years old, Silva is widely regarded as one of the greatest strikers in combat sports history. In addition, he’d recently stepped back into the boxing ring, putting up an incredible performance in a split decision victory over Julio Caesar Chavez Jr. in June 2021.
Many thought Silva would be Paul’s biggest test yet. However, after not only calling out but defeating the legendary UFC striker, Paul mocked White in his post-fight interview, asking:
“Dana? Dana? Dana?” (via MMA Junkie).
Since the victory over Silva, the legitimacy of Paul’s boxing career is becoming increasingly evident. Many important names in the combat sports community have come to the aid of Paul, including longtime UFC Color Commentator Joe Rogan and UFC Bantamweight Champion Aljamain Sterling. In addition, President of the World Boxing Council, Mauricio Sulaiman, addressed Paul’s doubters after the fight by saying:
“After last night whoever says Jake Paul is not a legit fighter is simply bitter and a hater” (Via Twitter)
Paul is not just gaining respect for his boxing ability, many are beginning to recognize his importance to the sport as a whole. Former Heavyweight Champion and boxing legend Mike Tyson has praised Paul for using his platform to bring much-needed attention to a sport that desperately needed it.
Paul has used his former-YouTuber status to introduce a new fanbase to combat sports. Additionally, he’s used his platform to shine a light on previously underappreciated fighters. His efforts to do so appear through his relationship with one of the greatest female fighters of all time, Amanda Serrano.
The 24-year-old champion signed with Paul’s Most Valuable Promotions (MVP) in September of 2021 and has appeared on several of Paul’s fight cards. Since signing, Serrano has seen a massive rise in popularity and better opportunities. Alongside, Serrano has established a platform of her own to inspire women and generate a female boxing fanbase.
In addition to putting a spotlight on fighters, Paul has worked to increase UFC fighter pay. Paul has recently expressed his intention to create an MMA fighters union that would strive to raise the fighters’ percentage of total profits. As a result of a pre-fight bet, Silva has agreed to partner up with Paul in creating the union.
Some may still doubt Paul’s fighting ability, but fighters and fans alike can’t help but support Paul for his efforts toward increasing fighter pay. Even Paul’s biggest haters, most notably the fans on Twitter, have even come around to express their appreciation.
“Normally I hate Jake Paul but I have to say I would one hundred percent support him and Silva getting together to make a union for fighters to ensure health care and good pay” (via Twitter).
Whether or not Paul can accomplish the union remains to be seen. However, as his career progresses, Paul continues turning the heads of fighters, analysts, and fans.
With each fight, Paul further emphasizes his legitimacy as a fighter and his significance to the sport. At this rate, It may not be long before boxing’s “Problem Child” is viewed as just the opposite.