YouTube star-turned-boxer Jake Paul coasted to his first three professional boxing wins.
On Monday (AEST), inside of a packed Cleveland arena, the 24-year-old was forced to dig deep to beat former UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley and claim his fourth.
In the end, Paul was awarded a split decision victory (77-75, 78-74, 75-77) in a fight that saw the one-time Disney star overcome the first real adversity he’s faced in the ring.
Despite one judge siding with Woodley, it appeared to be a fight of two halves; both controlled by Paul, but interrupted by a big right hand from his opponent.
After looking all sorts of awkward to start the fight, Woodley, in his boxing debut, finally found the shot he was looking for in the fourth round; an overhand right that sent Paul crashing into the ropes. Paul survived the round, though, and despite the ropes seemingly helping him stay on his feet, there was no knockdown ruled as he regained his composure.
“He’s proving tonight he’s a real fighter,” UFC analyst Ariel Helwani said in commentary.
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As was the story of the fight, Woodley was unable to capitalise on his clear power advantage and his constant ring pressure. Paul worked on the outside — at times looking lethargic — as Woodley hunted him around the ring. The problem? He rarely let his hands go.
“He’s a tough opponent … it was a tougher fight than I expected,” Paul said. “My legs felt weird since the locker room, I don’t know what’s wrong with me. All respect to Tyron, he’s a tough opponent. This is a dream come true.”
Woodley wasn’t happy with the decision, but the proof was in the numbers as he was outlanded 71 to 52, according to CompuBox.
“Let’s be honest, that’s bulls—,” Paul said of the judge awarding the fight to Woodley.
“Especially in my hometown. Like, where’s that judge at? He hit me with one [real] shot the whole fight.”
Phil Rogers, the judge in question, gave the last five rounds to Woodley in a decision that stood in stark contrast to the other scorecards.
Paul had finished his three previous fights before the third round, but went the full 24 minutes with Woodley in a fight that, according to his brother Logan, showed people “the Jake Paul people know didn’t existed”.
Woodley demanded an instant rematch, believing he won the fight, as the two fighers descended into a bizarre in-ring exchange.
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FULL FIGHT CARD
Jake Paul vs. Tyron Woodley (cruiserweight)
Amanda Serrano def. Yamileth Mercado — via unanimous decision (99-91, 98-92, 97-93)
Daniel Dubois def. Juiseppe Cusumano — via first round TKO
Montana Love def. Ivan Baranchyk — via 7th round TKO
Tommy Fury def. Anthony Taylor — via unanimous decision (40-36 x 3)