By News Team
26th August 2021
Now 3-0 as a professional boxer, Jake Paul takes on his latest challenge, and one that looks to be a significant step-up in class, in the shape of former UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley on Sunday night from the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland, Ohio.
Whilst the fight takes place in Paul’s hometown and many of the predictions have favoured the YouTuber, Woodley will be out to defend not only his fighting legacy, but also the sport of MMA.
With Daniel Dubois and Tommy Fury also featuring on the card, there’s plenty to interest the traditionalists and new audiences alike, and we preview the best of the action below.
Jake Paul v Tyron Woodley
Whatever your opinion on Jake Paul, the impact he is making with his boxing exploits is undeniable. With the numbers and interest his fights are generating, he’s putting himself (incredibly) alongside Canelo Alvarez, Tyson Fury, Anthony Joshua and other members of boxing’s elite in terms of pay-per-view value. Whilst this in itself may have highlighted some of the wider issues facing the sport, Paul himself has MMA in his crosshairs.
As well as taking on a second former UFC fighter on Sunday night, he has repeatedly called for changes to fighter pay structure in MMA, with the MMA fighters involved in this and previous cards admitting they were making more money to box on Jake Paul’s Showtime card than they did for some of the biggest MMA fights of their careers.
It’s an odd position for Paul to find himself in, simultaneously being seen as a bad guy out to embarrass the sport and also an advocate for improved conditions for fighters, but it’s one he is revelling in and monetising. Though his numbers thus far may be undeniable, what has not yet been truly assessed are his fighting credentials – having so far beaten a retired wrestler a few months following major hip surgery, a basketball player and a fellow YouTuber.
Which is where Tyron Woodley comes into the Masterplan. In Paul’s mind, Woodley has lost his edge, having left the UFC following a four-fight slide where at times he looked unable to pull the trigger with his striking, yet he remains a big enough name to be considered a scalp. Paul is seemingly already setting up his next opponent, in the shape of Tommy Fury, Love Island runner-up and brother of Tyson, with the two trading verbal jabs at each other throughout much of this year.
In terms of fighting credentials, however, there are only so many on the planet who have reached the level Woodley has, and equally been to the depths necessary to achieve what he has achieved. His peak undoubtedly came in a seven-fight unbeaten run between August 2014 and September 2018, which saw him crowned welterweight champion and defend his belt on four occasions. And if you’re putting together a list of the UFC’s best 170lb fighters, the ‘Chosen One’ is certainly in the conversation.
Boxing is of course quite different to MMA, and whilst Woodley’s striking was good, it was not exactly renowned as his strongest weapon. Instead, he would utilise his wrestling and wear on his opponent, something which may come in handy in clinch situations this weekend. What Woodley will bring though is heart. Unlike the opponents Paul has faced thus far, Woodley won’t be spooked by the first big right-hand Paul throws, he will bite down on the mouthpiece and come forward. If Jake Paul was looking for a test, he should get one on Sunday night.
Tommy Fury v Anthony Taylor
Tommy Fury’s rivalry with Paul has been a war of words up until this stage, but with both keen on increasing their profiles in the world of boxing and beyond, it makes sense that Fury would look to fight on the undercard here. Both have been accused of dodging tougher opponents in their careers so far, which is understandable given neither have much of an amateur background to show and Fury will get another chance to gain some experience as he takes on former MMA fighter Anthony Taylor.
Taylor has been working as a sparring partner for Paul and the former Bellator man, who holds a professional MMA record of 7-5, has one professional boxing fight under his belt, losing to Donte Stubbs in 2017.
Fury, on the other hand, is coming into his seventh fight with a perfect 6-0 record, with four knockouts to his name, and showcased his skills well in his last bout against Jordan Grant in June. He may not ever reach the heights of his brother, but Tommy certainly looks to have enough to work with and improve upon to have a solid career and he will hope a win over Taylor could lead him to a big showdown with Paul in the future.
Daniel Dubois v Joe Cusumano
Also featuring on the card is British heavyweight hopeful Daniel Dubois, who makes his US debut against American Joe Cusumano. Dubois bounced back from his first career defeat to Joe Joyce with a win over Bogdan Dinu in June and is looking to make an impression in this one as he looks to climb the ladder.
Cusumano also bounced back from defeat in his last bout with a win over Gregory Corbin in Los Angeles. He’s an experienced operator with 19 wins and three losses in his career so far, with 17 of those coming by way of knockout.
He will provide another interesting test for Dubois, who had been touted as a potential future champion before his loss to Joyce and will be looking to continue to rebuild his momentum in this one.