Jake Paul is searching for boxing legitimacy. However, he is looking everywhere but the actual boxing business.
The YouTube star turned pro boxer announced yesterday that he will face former Bellator and ONE FC champion and more recent UFC retiree, Ben “Funky” Askren.
The fight is being orchestrated by Triller, a video-making and social-networking app. The company is also behind the Tyson vs. Jones, Jr. event and this will be the second time the platform ventures into the fight business.
The 24-year-old, Paul, first entered the fight scene in January 2020, bringing his more than 20 million social media followers who ravenously consume his prank videos.
Before the announcement, Paul had been trolling former UFC two-division champion and global star, “The Notorious” Conor McGregor.
“I am dedicating my life to beating Conor McGregor,” Paul said to ESPN. “Financially, it already makes sense. Financially, I’m already one of the biggest prizefighters and there’s only a couple more bosses to check off and to beat and to conquer.”
Paul (2-0) is infamous for his dismantling of former NBA great, Nate Robinson during the co-main event of the Mike Tyson vs. Roy Jones exhibition bout back in November 2020.
Although, Paul has been praised by accomplished striking coaches and former fighters like Tyson for his skill and the attention he’s bringing to the sport, Paul has been careful not to call out any actual boxers.
Ben Askren (19-2-1 MMA) is an accomplished grappler who was a member of the US Olympic team and Pan American Champion in freestyle wrestling.
A two-time NCAA Division I National champion and two-time Big 12 Conference champion for the Mizzou, Askren was the second wrestler to secure multiple Dan Hodge Trophies, the Heisman of the sport.
“I know Jake Paul is enjoying pretending he is a fighter,” Askren told ESPN. “I think on April 17 he is going to have a rude awakening to what being a fighter is really like.
“Jake has led a privileged life and doesn’t really know what the meaning of being a fighter is. I’m going to put his dreams to an end.”
The fight will be Askren’s first professional boxing match. Paul has reportedly enlisted, Askren foe and UFC star, Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal for training in Miami.