With brother Logan Paul set to ruin the sport of boxing this coming weekend in a fake fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr., brother Jake Paul jumped into the press ring by announcing he would be further ruining boxing in late August in a fight against former UFC titleholder, Tyron Woodley.
Before we get any further, let me say, I like Tyron Woodley. Everybody likes Tyron Woodley. He’s a former UFC welterweight champ who fought and clawed and earned his title. He defended his title. And then Kamaru Usman came along and cleaned his clock and took the belt. Thereafter, Woodley was never the same — aging and diminishing and rolling out of the UFC in the successive four years with four lost fights to other welterweight top contenders. But who can say they were the best MMA welterweight in the world for a time? Tyron Woodley can. Now, to the sad part.
Woodley’s contract with the UFC ran out after his latest loss earlier this Spring. He became a guy at 39 with a name, a reputation, and no job. Along come the minions of the fake Fight Club, err Triller Fightclub registered trademark, to make him an offer he can’t refuse. Fight the younger Paul brother for one million guaranteed, plus upside. Regardless of the number of punches a fighter’s taken to the face, they know the upside is zilch once the promoter’s accountants get involved. Still, one million clams to stand in the ring for 15 minutes maybe against a social media influencer slash rapper running a long con? I’m not going to cast the first stone at that deal.
Former UFC fighter and current ringside announcer Michael Bisping claims he was offered $500,000 first for the same gig, but something derailed that deal. Maybe it was the bigger named Woodley willing to take the gig. One million may seem smaller than you’re used to hearing about in big-time title boxing PPV matches, but that is well more money than Woodley ever saw guaranteed in any of his UFC fights. The UFC doesn’t book out or payout in the same measure as the big matches in boxing.
As I mentioned in my previous article about the Paul brothers turning their combined attention spans to ruining boxing, they’ve made a mockery of the sport. That’s not from the perspective of some old-timer boxing enthusiast who laments updates and changes to the sport he grew up loving. All pro sports have changed in order to keep up with the times and the audience of those times. Baseball realized it had a pitcher-dominant game in the 1960’s, so it started lowering pitching mounds which works against the pitcher. Also, they added the DH in the American League so teams could put big palookas into the batters box rather than poor hitting opposing pitchers.
In the ’90s when baseball feared it was losing its audience again due to strikes and changing times, they quietly directed players to balloon up in size with BALCO cocktails and turned every player into Babe Ruth with muscle definition. The fans ate it up. Sosa and McGwire going after records and one another while juiced was a huge draw. Only the purists complained. And purists never pay the bills.
Basketball invented the shot clock to speed up the game, with more shots, more scoring, more offense. They added the 3-point line to induce less low post, workman-like offensive sets, and more perimeter shooting. Tell your children that there was a time in basketball when a player would never charge hard to the hoop with the ball only to pass it out at the last second to a guy twenty-three feet and nine inches away from the hoop to take a much much longer shot. A few decades ago, that would get you a punch in face. By your own teammates.
Football invented helmets so guys could smash each other violently at high speeds. They made it impossible for defensive backs to even touch wide receivers, leaving pass-catchers far more open for balls from quarterbacks who themselves became protected by rules you only ever heard previously applied to your younger sister. If you breathe on Tom Brady, that’s 15-yards. Offense flourished. That’s what fans want. Guys who like defense are like guys who pull out pouches of tobacco to put into their pipes. They’re harder and harder to find these days and nobody seems the least bit bothered by their absence.
Evolution, re-crafting, re-packaging, that all happens in all sports. Minus soccer obviously, which is why it’s been the ready-to-breakout sport in America for a hundred years now. What the Paul brothers and Fight Club, err, Triller’s Fightclub registered trademark, are doing isn’t evolutionary, it’s not even revolutionary, it’s merely bastardization. Even the XFL from Vince McMahon had the decency to play football at some point during its three hours. Sure, cheerleaders wore rocket-propelled pasties and at some point there were live moose hunts on the field, but eventually, real football players played real football. The Paul brothers’ fights aren’t real boxing.
Both Paul brothers skipped any apprenticeship or dues-time coming up the ladder. They are the Hadid sisters of the boxing world. Bella Hadid and her sister whatever-her-name who married what’s his name from One Direction were reality TV celebrity model kids who got booked direct into top modeling slots. Meanwhile, ingenues from Slovakia who were sold into a hellish world of exploitation by their starving parents by age twelve had murder in their hearts for the Hadids.
We don’t do entitlement programs in blood sports. Boxing or modeling. There’s a cultural expectation that you paid your dues and earned your spot. We understand how the world works. We know the rich celebrity’s twit kid is getting into USC on a sports scholarship for a sport they can’t even spell. Fine. But we’re not going to watch that heiress give a lecture on academic integrity.
The Paul brothers are fighting aging ex-fighters. They could fight current, top of their game fighters, which at least tells the world I’m a man and I want to take on the best. But they’ve chosen former fighters like Mayweather. And now Woodley. Woodley isn’t even a boxer, he’s an MMA fighter. Ben Askren, who previously fought Jake Paul, was a national collegiate wrestling champion who wasn’t allowed to wrestle in his fight with Paul. It’s like watching Helios Castroneves race Alex Palou but they have to use stripped-down Hyundai Sonata’s rented from Enterprise instead of Indy cars. Watch those four-cylinder cars take turns at 22 mph. Who will win? I dunno, because nobody cares. Let’s get a Starbucks.
Once again, this Paul brother fight crosses weight categories, with Jake Paul fighting as a light heavyweight against the former UFC welterweight fighter. Nobody does that in real boxing because it’s been considered non-sporting since the days men paid a wooden nickel to enter a tent and watch heavyset women lift their petticoats.
We don’t even know if these fights are real or not. We know the pre-fight promotional fake yelling and screaming and “incidents” at announcements and weigh-ins is heavily staged. We don’t know how much of the actual fight is dramatically set up. Watching the Ben Askren fight you have to think the man took a couple of punches from the larger Jake Paul, did some quick new math on what his guarantee paycheck could buy him, and said, time for a swan dive. You can surmise whatever level of strategy, thinking, and ferocity that forges a real professional fight is lost immediately within the confines of this circus contest.
The pumpkin heads who pay to watch this fight aren’t the same people who pay to see legit boxing. If they were, the promoters would simply offer them legit boxing fights. This is a crowd enthused by the Paul brothers media hype and influencer cult of personality, with a smattering of people who simply feel they need to be in on a trend. It could be avocado toast or a Paul brothers PPV. What will people be talking about on the Peleton virtual team pursuit tomorrow morning? Let’s make sure we do that.
Why did they have to ruin boxing? That’s the existentially dreadful question. Why couldn’t Jake Paul and Logan Paul ruin tennis? Showman Bobby Riggs tried to muddy up tennis in the ’70s by staging exhibition Battle of the Sexes matches against top female tennis players like Billie Jean King. Everybody got upset for a little while but then somebody said, hey, it’s only tennis, and everyone agreed and went back to figuring out who to pick in the Steelers-Oilers matchup. Why not swimming? Or powerlifting. Now there’s a sport that embraces anabolic smoothies. The Pauls would fit right in.
Real boxing is in an ebb tide in the United States, at least among non-Hispanic Americans. The desire to fill the sports of boxing gaps with a highly polished turd is sad to anybody who loves the sport.
I’m not going to tell you not to rent the fight any more than I’d tell a heavyset tourist from Knoxville to stop wearing a fanny pack when he’s within 100 miles of an ocean. Battling nature is a sport for younger men. Plus, I get a silent thrill when people who need to sing the alphabet to recite it properly part with their money. Technically speaking, we are a better-off world when resources flow out of the hands of people who overly value pewter mugs. I’ve never claimed the Paul brothers weren’t marketing-wise and financially savvy. Merely demonic destroyers of all that is holy and just.
I’m not sure how many crass marketing steps we are away from Logan Paul fighting an octopus or Jake Paul identifying as XX chromosomal and fighting Doja Cat while they both rap. I sure hope it’s sooner rather than later. I’d hate to start having to dislike good dudes like Tyron Woodley simply for playing a role in this destructive boxing farce.
I’d love to know what you think about the Paul-Woodley fight, or the Paul brothers and boxing altogether. Am I simply being an annoying prude about a decaying sport? Or do you agree that the road to hell is paved with the Paul brothers knowing grins into the camera? Comment below and I promise to tell you how wrong you are.