In case you haven’t heard, Jake Paul is a boxing promoter.
The YouTuber turned boxer launched his promotion company Most Valuable Promotions in advance of his boxing matchup opposite former UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley. In late September, Paul announced the first signing to MVP was Amanda Serrano, who Paul called, “The No. 1 pound-for-pound female fighter in the world and the greatest Hispanic female athlete of all time.”
Paul entering the fray of combat sports promotion is interesting. In the lead up to his fight against Woodley, Paul took a lot of swings at UFC president Dana White for how the promotion pays its fighters. And these weren’t pawing jabs either, they were haymakers, thrown intending to hurt the UFC and exposing the lopsided UFC pay structure to an audience that might not be aware of how little revenue the UFC shares with its fighters — the fighters who create that revenue.
My first reaction — after all, this is Jake Paul we’re talking about — was that Paul’s talk about fighter pay would fall away after the Woodley bout. I thought it was nothing more than a way for him to promote the fight and get his name in White’s mouth and possibly use the hype to get a few more people to tune into the Woodley contest.
Paul also said he was taking less pay in the Woodley fight so that other fighters could collect a bigger purse. The disclosed payouts for the event didn’t make me believe that to be true. Paul and Woodley made $2 million each (disclosed for the card). Only two other fighters made $100,000 or more. Serrano was not one of them.
Perhaps that was hyperbole designed to dig at White and the UFC. Honestly, I’m not concerned with the past of Paul as a promoter. I want to see what he does in the future.
With his hat in the promotion ring, Paul can be a force for good in combat sports. What would that look like? What would Paul need to do to make a change?
The terrible answer is, not much.
Combat sports promotions have never had the best reputation for honest dealing. The UFC civil suit showed everyone that the promotion keeps the revenue share for fighters at less than 20 percent and plans to do so for as long as it can. On the boxing side of things, remember Mike Tyson once sued his former promoter, Don King, for $100 million.
Paul just needs to show us he has the best interest of the fighters in mind. That’s the ground-level bar he has to step over. If Paul the promoter can show he is not in the promoting game simply to line his pockets, but to help athletes increase their share of the revenue and set themselves up for brighter futures, he should get some respect.
If Paul goes even further and opts for total transparency, which would be nice, he could be a game changer. Imagine if Jake Paul, as a combat sports promoter, just opened his books for everyone to see. If he and his team took the time and effort to show how the money flows in and out of the promotion, that would be something to behold.
Before the Tyron Woodley fight, Jake Paul tried to convince the MMA world he cared about combat sports pay. Now that he is a promoter, he can do more than that. He can show us those were more than empty words he used to sell a fight.
Jake Paul has a chance to be a force for good in combat sports. Will he deliver or will be just another in a long and ever-growing line of bombastic personalities who cashes in on the blood and bodies of those he promotes?