What would it take for you to consider Jake Paul a legitimate boxer?
I posed this question on Twitter the morning after Jake Paul KO’d former UFC champion, Tyron Woodley, in brutal fashion. Many of the answers were the same “another legitimate boxer.”
Yep, that’s a great answer.
The thing is … I’m not sure it’s the right answer.
Many fans downplay Paul because they simply find him annoying (I get it). But an athlete’s personality doesn’t count when you are factoring in their athletic ability, no matter how much you hate that person. We see this phenomenon with UFC athletes like Colby Covington and Conor McGregor who are very much legitimate talents.
We can’t de-legitimize Jake Paul without also shading Tyron Woodley
We can’t de-legitimize Paul without also shading Woodley, and we all know Woodley is the real deal. Yes, boxing and MMA are different but you’re telling me that Paul’s inexperience in boxing still outweighs Woodley’s years of MMA high-level striking? Because when you say Paul isn’t legitimate, you’re devaluing Woodley and I can’t get on board with that.
Paul made the proper adjustments, like a true athlete would do, in order to secure a more dominant win the second time around. That’s something Woodley wasn’t able to piece together and he’s been doing combat sports much longer than Paul.
The combat sports world is so busy being upset with Paul that they are missing his talent growing. They are missing his time spent training, they are missing his slow step up in competition, and they are breezing right past his punching power.
People criticize Paul’s opponent choices but he’s just learning, do you expect him to jump in and face a high-level boxer without any experience? Give it time, he’ll get there.
I’m not alone in my assessment either. FanSided’s boxing expert, Jeremy Herriges, had similar feelings about Paul nearly three months ago when he beat Woodley the first time.
“Many people don’t like Paul and dismiss him as a fake, wannabe boxer,” Herriges wrote in his column After the Fight. “That assessment is unfair and an overstatement. Paul’s antagonistic and brash social media behavior makes him a lightning rod for criticism, much of which is fair. However, he is athletic, has punching power, and has put in a lot of time and effort to improve his boxing skills. He’s far from an elite boxer, but he beat former UFC welterweight Woodley in a boxing bout, which should count for something.”
Sure, Paul’s not a high-level boxer, no way. But he is a legitimate boxer, whether we like it or not.
It’s time to give Jake Paul some credit. (I threw up a little bit in my mouth writing that).