In his fourth professional fight, YouTuber Jake Paul will once again step up his level of competition by taking on someone with a bit more striking experience than his previous opponent. But by choosing Tyron Woodley, Paul is still avoiding the one thing that could bring competitive legitimacy to his budding career: fighting an actual boxer.
The Athletic and MMA Island were among the first to report that Paul and Woodley have agreed to a boxing match, with both men later officially announcing the bout soon after.
Woodley represents biggest threat to Paul yet
ESPN reported that the fight will take place on Aug. 28. Paul (3-0, 3 KOs) has fought successively more dangerous opponents over his first three bouts, but none have had any professional boxing experience.
In January 2020, Paul made his debut in a match against fellow YouTuber AnEsonGib, winning by first-round TKO. He followed that up with a vicious second-round knockout of former NBA player Nate Robinson in November.
In April, Paul finally took on a professional fighter when he battled with former UFC fighter Ben Askren, a wrestling specialist with very limited striking skills. Woodley won that fight by knockout in less than two minutes.
— Tyron T-Wood Woodley (@TWooodley) June 1, 2021
Woodley (19-7-1 in MMA), the former UFC welterweight champion, also relied heavily on his wrestling skills during his MMA career. But he wasn’t nearly as one-dimensional as Askren. The 39-year-old scored seven knockouts in his MMA career, most of which came via punches. He possesses one-punch knockout power that makes him a threat to Paul.
How big a threat is an open question. Woodley has never boxed professionally and lost his last four UFC fights before becoming a free agent in March.
YouTuber favored over MMA champion
This fight materialized after Woodley joined Askren’s corner for Paul’s last fight. Woodley and Paul confronted each other before the fight, setting up the potential for their own encounter. Paul referenced that spat when announcing the fight, playing up his opponent’s abilities while also promising victory.
“I have a list of people I plan on shutting up with my fists. And as I enter my fourth pro fight, I am excited to knock the first one off the list by challenging myself against a five-time UFC champion known for his knockout power,” Paul said in a statement. “Tyron’s a seasoned striker who had fought the best in the world. I certainly respect his career, but I will be sending Tyron into a permanent siesta on Aug. 28.”
Bovada posted odds for the fight, making Paul a -175 favorite over Woodley (+145). That line makes sense: Paul has proven he is a competent (though certainly not elite) boxer, and that will prove challenging for anyone making their first appearance in the ring.
But Woodley says he’s planning on teaching the YouTuber a lesson.
“[This is the] easiest fight of my career and biggest purse of my career all in one night,” Woodley told ESPN’s Ariel Helwani. “This is getting done for the culture, the whole MMA community, and boxing community, to rid this guy from combat sports.”