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Editorial: YouTuber Jake Paul is disrupting the sport of boxing

“The Problem Child” is proving to be a problem to the boxing establishment.

Jake Paul v Tyron Woodley
Jake Paul reacts following his emphatic knockout victory over Tyron Woodley in their rematch at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida on Dec. 18, 2021.
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

A 24-year-old YouTuber has flipped the sport of boxing on its head, and the boxing purists are mad. Jake Paul, a former Disney star with a YouTube following of 20.4 million and counting, is doing all the things you shouldn’t do to become a successful prizefighter.

He is, perhaps, the only boxer in the sport to “make it” without going through the drudgery of beating twenty to thirty low-to-mid-level boxers and padding his resume before finally being recognized by the establishment as a success. Paul has done all that after just five fights and less than two years of professional training under his belt, winning all but one of those bouts via highlight-reel KO.

He was finally supposed to fight a “real boxer” in Tommy Fumbles Fury on Saturday night at Amalie Arena in Tampa, FL., but the latter withdrew from the bout on two weeks’ notice citing a broken rib and bacterial chest infection.

Paul fought Tyron Woodley – again – instead, and this time he turned ‘T-Wood’ into an internet meme after faceplanting the former UFC welterweight champion with a vicious, thudding overhand right in the sixth round. “He put the wood in Woodley, rendering him stiff as a board,” an animated Mauro Ranallo said during the slow-mo replay.

That knockout, which was one of the best KO’s of the year, already has over 4.1 million views on YouTube just nine hours removed from the fight and will probably be the #1 trending video on the platform by the end of the day. Paul is disrupting a heavily outdated and corrupt boxing model and proving to aspiring young boxers that they can walk to the beat of their own drum and still triumph.

UFC president Dana White, a boxing purist himself, thinks the Paul brothers are a fad – but he’s wrong. Jake and Logan are here to stay. For how long, exactly, no one knows but they have already made a considerable impact and shaken up the sport for the better.

The purists argue that Jake and older brother Logan don’t respect the sport of boxing because of their blatant disregard for tradition. They haven’t “worked their way up the ranks”, so to speak, and will, therefore, never be considered “real boxers”.

Rubbish.

I cannot speak for Logan but one thing that stands out about Jake is his passion for the sweet science. It’s undeniable. You can hear it in his interviews, you can see it in his demeanor – Paul loves to box, he just doesn’t love boxing. There’s a difference. He doesn’t like the politics, the corruption, or the (meaningless) belts.

“Maybe when the time is right I’ll go for a world championship belt,” Paul said at the post-fight press conference. “Whatever belt that is – IBF, WBA, WBO – I dunno. But it would be funny just to become world champion and just be like, yeah, I’m a YouTuber. And as soon as I win the world championship I’d take the belt and throw it on the f-cking ground and stomp on it. Because you’re a champion here [points to head] and in your heart before anyone tells you you’re a champion – and I am a champion.”

Paul may never become an official world champion but he’s arguably more than that — a glitch in the matrix. He’s disrupted an entire sport. And, if you’ve been paying attention to recent world events, you will have surely recognized by now that we live in an age of disruption.

The pandemic has disrupted global governance. Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are disrupting the global monetary system. Podcasters are disrupting legacy media. YouTubers are disrupting combat sports.

What next? A podcast with Jake Paul, Logan Paul, Mike Tyson, and Joe Rogan smoking toad venom and discussing “complex geometric patterns made out of love and understand?” No one knows, to be sure. But let’s embrace the disruption and enjoy the ride.