Alrighty folks, Jake Paul and Tyron Woodley had their boxing match and it’s over. For now.
Paul won a split decision — I’m not sure how you can give Woodley five rounds but whatever — to win this grudge match between social media sensation and former MMA champion. Woodley had Paul hurt in the 4th round and could’ve had a knockdown scored if the ref deemed Paul to have been saved by the ropes, but it also wouldn’t have mattered as far as flipping the decision.
This was not a thriller and I’m sure some are disappointed but it wasn’t devoid of action. Paul finally got some pushback and tried to fight a disciplined bout by going to the body and working combos judiciously. He did fade towards the back-half of the fight and said his legs didn’t feel right. Ultimately though I thought Paul was just busier and he wasn’t even throwing a ton of punches, either. He won a few rounds just by merely throwing and landing glancing blows. Some of his power shots could’ve been more powerful if his footwork was better, but he’s a dude with three years of pro boxing training and no prior serious combat sports experience.
Look, Paul is not a prodigy and he’s done well for himself to at least be able to box a hell of a lot better than some of the rank and file who populate regional undercards. Paul has made the most of his popularity and turned that into being a prizefighting genius by making millions fighting non-pro boxers. I don’t know how much longer it’ll last but hey, it’s working for him. Even mediocre pros beat him badly but he’s not going for them for a reason. MMA has loads of guys who are probably going to line up to fight him who are not high-level MMA boxers, while the high-level guys (e.g. Anderson Silva) will be avoided by Paul and his team.
As for Woodley, he’ll regret not letting his hands go when he had Paul in trouble. He arguably lost the next round and what’s incredible is he was rarely trapped against the ropes and Paul scarcely pressured with any conviction. That’s the story of many of his MMA fights, unfortunately. In round one he threw SIX punches which is astonishingly low. I don’t want to see a rematch but the two of them had some tattoo promise and maybe we’ll get it. It’ll certainly get Tyron another hefty paycheck if that does materialize. He’s not a pro boxer and at the very least this will prevent him from any upward level of opponent where he’d absolutely get destroyed.
More thoughts below:
- That did not feel like a normal boxing crowd. That felt like an MMA crowd that came to see some boxing. “USA! USA!” chants are not that common in boxing and certainly aren’t used for Ivan Baranchyk vs. Montana Love (more on that later). But if nothing else it was lively and they were there even before the PPV started to see Charles Conwell get a TKO off-TV. That’s always welcome for the sport and Cleveland really impressed for atmosphere.
- Amanda Serrano defended her WBC and WBO (and IBO) featherweight titles with a comfortable decision win over a very tough but overmatched WBC super-bantamweight champion Yamileth Mercado. Plenty of props to Mercado for surviving that brutal 10th round, as Serrano really poured on the punishment but couldn’t knock her down. This is where I get on my soapbox and call for women’s boxing to be 3-minute rounds like the men and not a maximum of 10 rounds instead of 12. No doubt in my mind Serrano gets a knockout if not for the 20 minutes allowed instead of 36. Will we see Serrano against Katie Taylor one day? I hope so. Those are two of the very best in all of women’s boxing and it’d be must-watch.
- Heavyweight prospect Daniel Dubois’ US debut went as expected. Poor Giuseppe Cusumano never had a chance. He was dropped three times in the opening round and the Brit did what he was supposed to do. At just 23 years old and with the only loss of his 17-fight career coming versus Joe Joyce, he still has a bright future and will be in more compelling fights than this.
- By far the best undercard fight was between Cleveland’s own Montana Love and former IBF junior welterweight champion Ivan Baranchyk. Perhaps Baranchyk’s eight-knockdown war and KO loss to Jose Zepeda last year sopped up all of his remaining prime, but he just looked really below par against the slick counterpunching and fast hands of Love. Montana had a couple of “WTF?!” moments when he opted to showboat instead of pounce on a hurt Baranchyk — he got hurt himself the second time it happened — but the seventh round knockdown was a thing of beauty. Good call by trainer Pedro Diaz to stop the fight because Baranchyk was just outgunned and even though he had the power advantage he was having less and less success as the fight progressed. Love gets his best win in a fun scrap and he may have entered himself into the pool of contenders at 140 lbs.
- The undercard began with Tommy Fury beating MMA veteran Anthony Taylor in an absolute stinker. Tommy, the half-brother of Tyson, looked terrible but he’s an actual boxer (if not a very good one) and Taylor most definitely is not. That was extremely awful and I’m especially and I’m just happy it was changed to four rounds at the last minute.