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Lingering Questions From the Jake Paul vs. Tyron Woodley Boxing Exhibition

The dust has settled from Sunday night’s Jake Paul vs. Tyron Woodley boxing showcase. However, there might now be more lingering questions than answers that were provided. Let’s ask a few of them out loud.

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Photo by Getty Images via New York Post

I definitely know what I saw last Sunday night. And yet, I don’t know exactly what I watched. I hope that makes at least some sense to you. For reference, it’s kind of like in the hoops classic White Men Can’t Jump when Billy Hoyle was listening to Jimi Hendrix, but Sydney Deane claimed he couldn’t hear Jimi. It’s complicated.

While the fight itself was marginally entertaining, the final outcome left a skeptical taste in some mouths. The explosive climax — pardon the verbiage — didn’t come during the actual fight, but rather at the end during the post-fight interviews where Woodley not only vehemently refuted the loss with his “ropes held you up” comment, but then challenged Paul on the spot to run it back. A few days later, interpretive clarity is still lacking on the fallout of this over-hyped bout and exactly where Jake Paul, Tyron Woodley, and the planet’s fight fans, go from this point onward.

The questions, they linger. So let’s jot them down and attempt to rationalize our way out of the carnage (which is perhaps an overstatement).

Was the decision the correct one?

Jake Paul won the fight via split decision. And if you know anything about combat sports and split decisions, they tend to be fishy by nature, with one of three judges zigging instead of zagging. Was it from a different angle? Did they just value different aspects of the performances? Or, were they just paid off? Regardless, these kind of decisions often raise eyebrows.

According to the CompuBox punch statistics, there’s no question that Paul was the more active fighter, and especially early. Overall, he out-landed Woodley 71-52 in total punches. Woodley, for all the power he possesses, seemed tentative for the first 2-3 rounds, likely due to Paul’s longer reach and his inability to get inside (or maybe because he was “instructed” to be hesitant, but more on that later). He did work his way back into the fight and finally let his hands go in the later rounds. But at that point, it might have been too late. Woodley undoubtedly landed the single biggest shot in the fight, a right hand that staggered Paul into the ropes, but it still wasn’t quite enough.

Jake Paul vs. Tyron Woodley results: Paul stays undefeated with split  decision win over Woodley | Sporting News
Paul was awarded the split decision victory. | Photo by Gregory Domino via Sporting News

Officially, the judges ended up scoring the bout 77-75 for Paul, 77-75 for Woodley, and 78-74 for Paul. Perhaps a little suspect, but nothing overly egregious. The broadcast team frequently provided some verbal hedging, by referring to the ringside judges’ lack of experience on multiple occasions.

I personally took little issue with the decision, as Paul did surprise me with his activity and solid chin when he did get rocked for a few seconds. My prediction was Woodley by KO in the 4th round, so I had hoped that we’d never actually make it to the judges scorecards. But Tyron let it get there. I will say this; the official decision wasn’t the wrong decision.

Could this fight have been a “work?”

Most people love a good conspiracy theory, so let’s entertain it for a minute. Borrowing from the professional wrestling universe, a “work” is when anything is scripted. While the term is business as usual in wrestling (sports entertainment), it’s a taboo term within the boxing world.

Could this fight have been… scripted?

A few things here. Whether to sell the fight or not, both guys went over the top with their trash talk from the beginning. They both made exceptional bankroll. Neither guy got physically embarrassed (knocked out). Then they paved the way to run it back another time. It’s not like Woodley is about to revive his MMA career either. If he did completely swallow his pride, it’s not an unimaginable concept to think this fight could have been strategized. Especially with the way Tyron came out so tentative in the early rounds after wanting to “hurt” this kid.

But with the entire MMA universe behind him, do we think Woodley would actually agree to throwing the fight for financial gain? Given his combat sports pedigree, I personally think that it’s highly unlikely. I mean, his mama was ringside! Though, both moms were hugging in the ring after the fight like they were two of the four Golden Girls.

Some still believe that the Paul vs. Ben Askren fight back in April was staged. Sorry, but I’m not in that camp, and not buying that Ben agreed to be knocked out. I’d put Woodley in that same boat. This fight was actually born from a locker room altercation at the Askren fight, and I think there was legitimate disrespect.

In terms of authenticity, the fight passed the eye test. Woodley certainly tried to take Paul’s head off on several occasions. And in reality, if just one of those punches connect, Paul ends up horizontal. As much as I hate admitting it, and factoring in their combat experience, Paul might have actually “fought the better fight,” as in, he got enough shots in and didn’t die. So let’s put the conspiracies to bed.

So, are we actually getting a rematch?

Before we even consider rematch potential, let’s acknowledge the nonsense that Paul trolled us all with this past week:

Then, a little more than 24 hours later:

If anyone thought that Jake Paul was “retiring” from a sport where he made an instant $2 million+ for basically signing his name on a dotted line, well, you’re crazy. He’s riding an ultimate high right now and casually thinks that he can beat just about anyone. He’ll continue to carefully select his opponents and keep going until someone puts that “1” in the loss column. These tweets are the definition of “troll material.”

It seems probable that a rematch will happen, and maybe even before 2021 is out. Although, pro boxer Tommy Fury (brother of heavyweight champion Tyson Fury), who fought and won on the undercard, might have interest in being Paul’s next opponent and of course, the cashing in on that massive payday. The two have exchanged words, and well, money talks.

I’m not a great barometer to gauge a fight’s true watchability, since I’ll watch just about any semi-competitive combat event, but I would watch Paul vs. Woodley another time, in hopes that one of those angry Tyron right hooks connect this time around.

Paul did agree to running it back IF and WHEN Woodley proceeds to get “the tattoo” (aligned to its many conditions) that they both agreed upon before the fight took place.

A potential version of the now-infamous tattoo agreement. | Photo by talksport.com

This in turn, transitions perfectly into my next question…

Is “the tattoo” going to happen?

It’s not like tattoo accessibility is a problem, since the now-famous tattoo artist was ringside at the event on Sunday. Some, including Daniel Cormier, pleaded with Woodley not to get the tattoo, even after agreeing to it. But it does appear that Woodley is ready to comply, as he stated in his post-fight presser that he would commit to getting the tattoo, most likely on his thigh. But as we’ve come to learn in today’s society, something isn’t completely legitimized until it’s posted on social media for the universe to consume. Thus, the “put it on Instagram” comment. We’ll all wait patiently for that first image to pop up to consider the bet settled and the door to the rematch open.

So, is Jake Paul actually legit?

Hold up. Let’s define “legitimate” first. Does Jake Paul have actual skills? Absolutely. It’s obvious that he’s worked hard at this craft over the past three years and looks far more like an actual boxer than I would have ever thought. He has solid ring presence and instincts, with some juice behind those punches. This is all apparent, even to the casuals.

Now let’s consider “legitimate” within the realm of “does he have a future career in professional boxing?” Looking at his 4-0 resume combined with the self-proclamations he’s made, he hasn’t actually fought a true professional boxer yet. While the transition from rich YouTube kid to getting in the ring with respected MMA champions is certainly impressive, this is his current “boxing” portfolio:

  1. Deji (a fellow YouTuber).
  2. Nate Robinson (a retired NBA basketball player making his own boxing debut).
  3. Ben Askren (retired MMA fighter and collectively known as a below-average striker, who was also making his boxing debut). Askren himself has said that he’s a terrible striker.
  4. Tyron Woodley (retired, former MMA champion, making his boxing debut).

All in all, with the improvement he’s shown, Jake Paul is a legitimate opponent for these caliber of opponents. Of course he is. But let’s see him climb in the ring with an actual professional BOXER.

If not Woodley, who should Jake Paul fight next?

There definitely won’t be a shortage of options. It seems everybody wants a piece of this guy. Both for the money, and the redemption. Particularly, the MMA community. Here are some names that I’ve either seen floating around, or would love to see get the next shot (in this order):

  • Woodley, for obvious reasons.
  • Tommy Fury – This solves the “Jake Paul is not fighting any boxers” narrative. Fury also has three years of experience, like Paul. They’re both approximately the same size (Paul is 6’1, 190, while Fury is 6’0, 180). While Fury is 7-0, both guys have only fought dudes with zero wins. Outside of Woodley, this fight makes the most sense.
  • Jorge Masvidal – The two have a history and a challenge has been unofficially extended. Check this clip at the 3:50 mark.
  • Conor McGregor – Currently recovering from a broken leg. Conor’s a bit undersized for Paul, but how much smack talk could he take before stepping up in weight, and in ball size? And who better to knock Paul out than the most controversial combat fight of the past decade?
  • Badou Jack – This is to humor my guy Joe. But he’s actually a realistic and tough opponent, who’s been on one of these cards before. He’s lived the spectacle.

Rest assured that there will be endless rumors swirling around over the next few weeks, while Paul decides the next step of his boxing journey. He has all the leverage. If not a Woodley rematch, Paul has full control over how serious he wants to make this boxing escapade, with a surplus of MMA fighters, boxers, and even celebrities that want to share the ring with him. Time will tell.

But don’t kid yourself, the kid has been successful in getting eyeballs on the sport, whatever the hell you want to label it. We’ll all be listening, hearing, seeing, and/or watching his next fight, no matter who’s on the other side. As a professional troll and part-time boxer, he wants it no other way.


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