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Is the Jake Paul Phenomenon Good for Boxing in the Long Term?

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  • Is the Jake Paul Phenomenon Good for Boxing in the Long Term?

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    By Arne K. Lang

    This past Saturday, Oct. 29, 4,586 turned out at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden to witness the return of Vasiliy Lomachenko. Meanwhile, 2,417 miles away in Glendale, Arizona, a crowd more than three times as large, reportedly 14,430, was on hand for a boxing event headlined by Jake Paul.

    Granted, from the standpoint of the prevailing odds, Paul’s 8-round match against former MMA great Anderson Silva had a lot more intrigue than Lomachenko’s bout with Jamaine Ortiz. However, Lomachenko is a boxer who will be remembered as one of the all-time greats, whereas a Jake Paul fight, in the opinion of many old-time boxing fans, is nothing more than a circus act best suited for a carnival tent.

    A vexing question is whether the emergence of Paul as a hot ticket-seller is good for boxing in the long-term. Paul is pulling in a younger demographic to boxing which is certainly a good thing, but will these Johnny-come-latelys’ still be around when his career fizzles out?

    The late Ted Sares, who recently passed away at age 85, conducted a survey that touched upon this question. The results of his poll ran on these pages on Sept. 20, 2021. Nine days earlier, there was an appalling spectacle in Hollywood, Florida, involving former MMA star Vitor Belfort, 44, who annihilated Evander Holyfield in a fight that lasted a mere 109 seconds. Holyfield, whose reflexes were completely shot, was five weeks shy of his fifty-ninth birthday.

    Sares’ respondents, who on average were significantly older than the general population, were overwhelmingly turned off by these “non-traditional” boxing matches which were popping up on a regular basis.

    The noted Canadian trainer and cornerman Russ Anber, who has worked with some of the most famous boxers in the world, could have spoken for the consensus when he shared this observation: “The reverence and respect for boxing has been lost in a way that it may never recuperate from…the fact that there is an abundance of people who are paying, and gladly pay to watch these ridiculous sideshows is truly beyond comprehension.”

    Longtime boxing referee Ron Lipton placed the finger of blame at today’s boxing promoters “[who] are just not doing their job and [their] business model is just not conducive to building new stars.”

    Longtime trainer and gym operator Steve Canton, the founder of the Florida Boxing Hall of Fame, expressed a somewhat similar sentiment: “I have to wonder if it’s because we have an unexciting era of boxing where the best avoid fighting the best.”

    The wording of the TSS questionnaire was perhaps too vague. To many of the respondents, a “non-traditional” boxing match evoked a freak fight of the sort once associated with celebrity boxing huckster Damon Feldman. In his most outrageous promotion, Feldman matched notorious figure skater Tonya Harding against Bill Clinton accuser Paula Jones who subbed for “Long Island Lolita” Amy Fisher who was ruled out by her parole board. That was beyond tacky.

    Jake Paul doesn’t belong in the same category with those that participated in Feldman’s grotesqueries. As Damon Runyon would have phrased it, Paul can fight more than a little. No, he’s not ready to challenge the top dogs in the cruiserweight division and may never reach that height, but throw him in against a fringe contender who is a shade past his prime and it says here that Paul, 25, would make it interesting. This is not solely my opinion. Those in the know that have watched him spar have told this reporter that the guy is legit.

    Paul has been feasting on former MMA stars whose best days are behind them. Anderson Silva had the longest title reign in UFC history, but he’s now 47, old enough to be Jake Paul’s father. To inquire whether Silva’s reflexes have dulled is a rhetorical question.

    That being said, Silva was only 16 months removed from a stunning upset of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in an 8-round contest in Guadalajara. And Paul showed great poise vs. Silva, saving his best for last. Prominent boxing writer Norm Fraunheim, sitting ringside, had Silva ahead going into the final round when Paul put Silva on the canvas with a counter left hook. As it turned out, Jake didn’t need that knockdown to secure the win – the judges had it 77-74 and 78-73 twice – but he embellished his brand by putting the icing on the cake.

    The brickbats directed at Jake Paul (aside from the fact that many find him obnoxious) rest largely on the fact that he went right to the head of the line without paying his dues. Think of it this way: How would you like to stand out in the rain with other commuters waiting for a late-arriving bus only to have some fellow dash up and jump the queue? But it would be wrong to think that Paul doesn’t put in long hours at the gym. “He doesn’t get enough credit for what he’s doing because people don’t realize how truly hard what he’s doing is,” wrote Yahoo combat sports columnist Kevin Iole, a former Jake Paul detractor, in his summary of the Paul-Silva fight.

    As for those new fans that Jake Paul is supposedly bringing to the sweet science, British boxing writer Peter Silkov isn’t impressed. The newbies, says Silkov, “have little appreciation or understanding of the sport.” Former IBF lightweight champion Paul Spadafora made this same point in a conversation with this reporter several weeks ago. In words to this effect, Spadafora said the yokels drawn to boxing by the intrusion of youtube influencers like Jake Paul will never come to appreciate the lore of the ring as expressed through the artistry of the great fighters of yesteryear, so who needs them?

    But, of course, boxing, which has degenerated into a fringe sport within the Anglo community of North America, needs new blood at the turnstiles and if Jake Paul can effectuate that, even for a little while, that can’t be such a bad thing.
    Last edited by AcidArne; 11-08-2022, 07:19 PM.

  • #2
    Can not say that it is good for boxing, no way no how. It takes too much hype,mony and energy to sell the celebrity fights that have become regular along side the boxing scene. If boxing put as much effort into and salesmanship into the fight game over all there might be a cautious way of defending "IT" but no they just are trolling for loose dollars and dumb fans is all. If you enjoy boxing you will gravitate to a good fight card naturally no need to entice or play games to get people to watch a good boxing event. If boxing took itself serously as in real drug testing, only writing and talking about fights that led to more fights, if boxing did not insult the fans with inflated prices and poor match making then this little side show might not be so agitating to the general boxing public. Boxing should use its efforts in improving the fight cards it puts out, not going for these cheap thrills that matter not at all. First things first..............Every fighter no matter how much he enjoys the game is looking for a big pay day, does boxing look out for its fighters ? No look at the damaged fighters and how most end out there days it is simple as that. But to start a guy who has a gimmich, some stick and use that to pull in fans with nothing but money as the motive ? Give me a break fool. The most dumbest of replies is " if you dont like it dont buy it" right real deep thoughts there buddy. It cheapens the fight game, it takes no steals the bright lights that could be show on men who have struggled to get to a place of pure entertainment thru the sweet science, it attempts to dumb down the fan base I could go on you know ? come on guys there is no shame in ignoring trash when you smell it, lets not even give fights that dont matter the ink they dont deserve. Same goes for fools who want PPV dollars for fights and fighters that do not matter. Lets get back to boxing and leave the clown show for the circus......


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