This weekend features the return of boxing’s bastard son, Jake Paul. He will take on UFC legend Nate Diaz. Didn’t know it was happening this weekend? Well, it is. It seems as if nobody actually cares about the latest Jake Paul fight this weekend. The question truly is this: why are those who are paying attention so mad about it?
First thing is first: why do I say that this fight doesn’t matter? Aside from that he complete lack of interest online? Well normally when Jake Paul fights, I have someone who I’ve never talked about fighting with ask me what I think about the fight. This time, nobody has brought the fight up and when I mention it, they are surprised it’s here already. People have seemingly stopped paying attention.
But one man’s experience isn’t the rule. That’s why I did some research. I looked up Google Trends for the search term “Jake Paul” for the last five years. What I saw was pretty clear. See the tweet image below:
As you can see, during each of the Jake Paul fights, there’s a spike leading up to the fight and it subsided after the fight. Notice the end of the timeline. No pre-fight spike. Nobody is tuning in.
Jake Paul no longer matters
Jake Paul’s whole M.O. has been to play the heel. Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather did this masterfully in their rise. Where that worked for them is based in the fact that they were actually very good fighters. They’ve been at fighting longer than Paul. They could back up all their talk.
Paul took this playbook and adapted it to be a him versus boxing narrative. He was the outsider here to cause ruckus in the sport of boxing and shake things up. Except Jake Paul wasn’t fighting Gary Russell Jr. in his third pro fight like Vasyl Lomachenko. He was fighting Ben Askren, a wrestler.
Nobody tuned in to watch Jake Paul box because of his skill. They tuned in to see Jake Paul get humbled. Every time he stepped up in competition, going from Askren to Tyron Woodley to Anderson Silva and finally to Tommy Fury.
Once he was thoroughly beat by Tommy Fury, the need to tune in vanished. He will always have lost to Tommy Fury and in many’s mind, he will never beat a legitimate boxer.
Now that Jake Paul has lost his reason to get people to tune in, nobody will actually tune in. That may seem obvious but it makes all the sense in the world.
If the internet all of a sudden became free to everyone with good quality, nobody would pay for it anymore. The demand is for access to the internet. The internet is the product. For Jake Paul, the product was always the prospect of him losing.
Does it even matter?
There’s a small sect of people still raging about Jake Paul and how he’s so bad for boxing. “A disgrace to boxing!” is what they all cry not knowing that boxing’s history with gimmick fights is long and arduous. Heavyweight champ Jack Dempsey fought with Cowboy Luttrell, a pro wrestler. George Foreman fought five people in one night. Shaq and Oscar De La Hoya fought in 2009. The sport has always been at home with the sideshows.
After Paul’s loss, the question remains: why do we still care? Those small few who decry Jake Paul for whatever reason still have it in them to point out how Paul will never beat a real boxer. Everyone knows that. It’s why this card will probably do abysmal numbers.
This fight truly doesn’t matter.
Jake Paul doesn’t have a partner willing to engage in pre-fight shenanigans. Nate Diaz has walked out of press conferences, given little to no effort when he’s there and generally abstained from trash talk—today was the lone exception. With Paul’s product being the want to see him lose, the fight doesn’t matter. There’s no hype for it. There’s hardly any media attention outside of those directly involved.
Can Paul get back?
At 6-1 now, Jake Paul has had much success in the sport of boxing from the business aspect. He’s sold a lot of pay per views and sold a lot of tickets. (Side note: don’t let him fool you about selling 2 million pay per views against Nate Robinson. That was the co-main event for Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr.’s exhibition bout.) Paul’s product is truly done. We’ve seen him lose. The question is can he ever gain relevance again like before Tommy Fury? Probably so. But it will not be simple or easy.
First thing is first, Jake Paul has to keep improving at boxing and improve at a faster rate. While he’s fought and become a better boxer over the years, it’s not fast enough. He needs to get better. The focus here is on making his boxing skills the product.
Jake Paul and Logan Paul are actually fairly decent athletes. I won’t say they’re Olympic or World Champion threats but we’ve seen skills from them. But being a decent athlete doesn’t fit into the whole “1 punch 10,000 times” mantra from Bruce Lee. Paul needs to put in the work. He needs to become a better boxer. People don’t tune in to watch Terence Crawford or Canelo Alvarez be a spectacle. They tune in to see them be really good boxers.
Maybe he avenges his loss to Tommy Fury in some far flung rematch. Maybe he fights KSI and gets the last cash grab for this era’s generation of YouTube boxing. But the thing that has to happen for Paul to become relevant again is to reinvent himself. He needs a new product. That is what he’s always done, after all: find a new product to immerse himself in.
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