It seems everyone has something to say about Jake Paul. The social media star turned boxer has won all three of his fights by knockout, and the chatter around who he’ll be facing next is only getting louder. Numerous current and former fighters have stepped forward with challenges, and a lot of their rhetoric has been very aggressive. It’s clear there’s hatred behind a lot of their words, and Mike Tyson thinks he knows why.
The boxing legend shared a card with the YouTuber last year. The main event was Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr and the undercard was Jake Paul and ex-NBA player and Slam Dunk Contest champion Nate Robinson. The fight reportedly did 1.6 million pay per view buys, and Tyson saw first hand how much attention Paul generated. During a recent episode of his podcast, he talked about the envy that comes with making money and putting up views, especially when it’s eclipsing guys in combat sports who have won titles. Here’s a portion of his quote...
Boxers get angry because the real champions don’t even have that many views. They’re happy if they have a million views. These guys (The Paul Brothers) have 80 million views.... That’s why everybody wants to kill ‘em because they see this little white guy, blonde haired, blue eyed making all this fucking money, talking all this shit. Everybody wants to kill ‘em. I get envious when I see these guys do it. (I’m like) what the fuck are they doing? That’s why you wanna kick his ass. You get envious of him. It’s easy to hate those guys.
There’s the money, and there’s the attention. Neither of those things is easy to come back in combat sports. The majority of both is often consolidated in very few hands. From Connor McGregor to Floyd Mayweather to Mike Tyson himself, the top earners can net generational wealth and global superstardom, but most other professionals in combat sports are putting their bodies on the line for nowhere near the same return. I would imagine it’s one thing to see those rewards go to the best of the best in your sport and it’s quite another to watch them go to some YouTuber who pats himself on the back incessantly.
That being said, sports rely on public interest to generate revenue, and the fight game does involve selling yourself. Who a champion picks as their next opponent is often directly related to who is perceived as being able to sell tickets, and Jake Paul, to his credit, puts in a ton of sweat equity into generating attention. There’s no rule that says fighters can’t start their own YouTube channels, or record themselves pulling firetrucks or prank calling their opponents.
As for where Jake Paul will go from here, the future is really quite unclear. The showman stepped into the boxing ring with retired UFC fighter Ben Askren earlier this year and won quite convincingly. The win over someone with established credentials has made those in the business look at him a bit differently, but there’s a big difference between boxing a retired UFC fighter who was primarily a wrestler and never known for his striking and boxing someone who is at the top of his game.
Whatever Jake Paul ultimately decides, expect a sideshow to follow, filled with fans, haters, gawkers and people who really want to see the social media star get his ass kicked. Provided they all pay, however, I don’t think the talk of the boxing world really cares.