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NOTES FROM THE BOXING UNDERGROUND: JAKE PAUL BEATS BOXING

By Paul Magno | October 31, 2022
NOTES FROM THE BOXING UNDERGROUND: JAKE PAUL BEATS BOXING

Hey, boxing...you did it to your own goddamn self. In just about 33 months, a YouTuber/ social media influencer/novice boxer managed to become a more mainstream-relevant fighter than anything boxing could produce since Mayweather/Pacquiao. 

Jake Paul’s 8-round decision victory over retired UFC great Anderson Silva ruled a night of boxing where there were two other good, solid “pure” boxing cards on at the same time. Up against a significant comeback bout featuring pound-for-pound elite-level Vasiliy Lomachenko versus a young, hungry Jamaine Ortiz and a contest that promised, at least on paper, to be a really good one in Joseph Diaz-William Zepeda, the Paul fight was the one that got all the mainstream love. 

Everyone from CNN to Barstool Sports “Breaking Newsed” the Paul-Silva fight result, despite Paul and Silva being the least accomplished, least skilled boxers among the three main events Saturday night. 

This was not at all a surprise, though. This was as predictable as racist retweets from a Ring Magazine staffer’s Twitter feed. 

Paul-Silva got all the mainstream love because, well, boxing promotion is shit. Boxing promoters have grasped at quick-money paydays at the expense of the sport’s long-term health since premium cable companies first started writing checks, in desperate need of exclusive content to fill out their schedules, about four decades ago.

The sport was able to motor along, at increasingly slower speed, over the years because hardcore fight fans are generally loyal and because, despite everything, the American public still holds boxing in its collective unconscious. There’s still a market for boxing. It’s just that “boxing people” can’t seem to deliver.  

Jake Paul is no “boxing person” in the traditional sense, but he does understand promotion-- something that this current batch of boxing promoters, who are either perpetually trapped in their soggy Depends or twisted up in their own greed and egos, can’t seem to comprehend.

Hell, the entire boxing business structure, with its endless paywalls and subscription demands, is set up in a way that discourages growth and expansion in favor of aggressive cash grabs at the expense of its most loyal fans. From pro debut onward, boxing stars are shoved into lockboxes where only the slowly strangled base can take a peek...for a price. 

The highest of the high-end boxers have been fortunate that new money has popped up in recent years to keep many of them rolling in dough with unrealistic, artificially inflated purses. But the boom for the top .1% has done nothing for the sport. If anything, it’s buried it even further and has created even a greater divide between the stars and casual-curious would be fans whose attention should be a top priority for future-minded boxing business people. 

The biggest kick in the head is that in Jake Paul’s rise to boxing stardom, no “real” boxers were at all involved. Neither Paul nor any of his opponents (except Silva, who had a scattered small handful of “for real” boxing matches) were actual professional boxers before fighting atop Jake Paul boxing events. Boxing and boxers were irrelevant to the rise of a boxing draw. If that doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about the feeble state of boxing promotion, I don’t know what will.

Yeah, Paul is a celebrity and has parlayed that into main event status. But his head start to drawing power should be offset by the fact that boxing’s very best have years and years on him, are at the very top of their game, and get the collective attention of the boxing media. 

The problem is clearly that boxing’s brain trust either can’t bother themselves to try and reach out to the mainstream or that it doesn’t want to sacrifice small-minded, quick-cash payouts for the sake of outreach and audience building.

Either way, the sport sucks at building stars. The general public doesn’t even know who today’s boxing stars are. And, so, celebrities and retired legends are filling the demand for prizefighting that still exists. 

Again, this is totally boxing’s own fault. 

Jake Paul is “for real” as a boxer. He’s clearly worked his ass off to pick up some skills and his improvement over the last several fights tells that tale. He’s still, however, a 6-fight novice pro. Only in this off-kilter boxing world can he be the star that he is and, likely, a Top 5 American draw (maybe Top 2). 

If a series of one-on-one basketball game between comedian Kevin Hart and fellow celebrities continually outdrew NBA Finals games, you can bet NBA officials and team owners would be having some serious meetings about what the fuck is happening. Boxing’s bossmen don’t seem to feel any similar sense of urgency. That’s the problem.

Got something for Magno? Send it here: paulmagno@theboxingtribune.com

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