Askren vs. Paul has come and gone, and it was exactly the sideshow many expected, or feared.
When Michael Buffer bellowed “let’s get ready to rumble” well past midnight for those in the east, you could could be forgiven if your response was “let’s just get this over with.” With most of Jake Paul’s target demographic up past their bedtime just to watch the fight, the PPV to that point was best described as long. The four-fight main card had started at 9PM, and had just one boxer vs. boxer match — which saw Regis Prograis defeat Ivan Redkach in a one-sided decision. Earlier in the evening, former UFC heavyweight champ Frank Mir lost his boxing debut to Steve Cunningham, also via decision.
Interspersed, performances by Ice Cube, Justin Bieber, and The Black Keys, the latter decidedly out of place. Does Gen Z even know what rock n’ roll is, let alone who The Black Keys are? Other musical acts dotted the card. TV’s Urkel (Jaleel White) made an appearance. Mario Lopez, Snoop Dogg, and a seemingly endless cast of celebrities helped take the focus off the one thing it should have been on: boxing.
And then, finally, just prior to 1AM, the main event arrived. After all the trash talk in the build-up of Askren vs. Paul, one thing was clear: Ben Askren had been cherry picked as a beatable combat sports professional for Paul. A fighter whose hands were never considered anything close to dangerous, whose bread and butter was his wrestling. But the burgeoning celebrity boxing career of Jake Paul needed some sort of legitimacy, and Askren was a legit world champion in multiple promotions.
He was also someone not afraid to put himself out there and promote the fight.
The end result, with that in mind, was no surprise. Askren’s awkward approach to striking was on display early, hands held high, jab looking ugly. When Paul launched an overhand full force just over a minute in, Askren ate the canvas. Always gifted with a good chin, he made it back to his feet ahead of the count, and Paul was ready to move in, smelling blood in the water. The ref, however, had seen a stumble in Askren’s step. Or perhaps a chance to end the circus early. He ruled Akren unable to continue, giving Paul his third finish in three fights as a professional.
Make no mistake, Jake Paul can hit hard. He can definitely knock out a retired mix martial artist, more than a decade older than him, coming off hip surgery. And he can probably continue to cherry pick opponents for easy paydays, for as long as his fans choose to support the fantasy. None of that will do much for the sport of boxing, in the long run, but then, that was never the point. A payday, a fantasy career, and furthering fame are the name of the game, and in that, Jake Paul was a winner. Just let us know when he decides to box a boxer.
Official Result: Jake Paul def. Ben Askren by TKO, Round 1, 1:59