Ben Askren might have been the first professional fighter to get knocked out by a YouTuber, but ‘Funky’ is no hater of Jake Paul.
Askren says Paul actually earned his respect following the 24-year-old’s split decision win over Tyron Woodley (former UFC welterweight champion and future UFC Hall-of-Famer) last weekend at Ohio’s Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse, where Paul outpointed ‘T-Wood’ in an eight-round fight and extended his record to 4-0.
“I thought Tyron was pretty solid for his boxing debut,” Askren said on Instagram Live (h/t MMA Fighting). “I know a lot of you guys are pretty frustrated he didn’t beat up Jake Paul. Listen, that’s what I wanted to happen too. I wanted him to knock Jake Paul’s head off, he didn’t get it done.
“The other thing that happened, for me, I gained a lot of respect for Jake Paul. I know he got a TKO on me but I knew I wasn’t very good at boxing. I told all of you that I’m not a very good boxer I just think I’m better than he is. So when he got a knockdown on me, yeah whatever, he didn’t earn my respect. Watching him versus Tyron, I have a lot of respect for Tyron’s striking ability and I think Tyron won the fight but either way, it was a highly competitive bout and I think it’s pretty evident - and the only way you’re not gonna think this is if you really hate the guy and I don’t hate him, I’m whatever towards him - it’s pretty evident to me that he’s worked pretty hard at this and he’s pretty tough. He took some pretty big shots from Tyron and he kept on fighting. So in that respect, he has earned my respect, for sure, in a way that he didn’t in my fight or any of his fights previously.”
Askren would like to see a rematch and thinks it would be a mistake for ‘The Problem Child’ to pursue a world-class boxer for his next fight.
“I think him and Tyron happens again and here’s why: so while I’ll definitely admit that Jake is working hard at this and he has achieved a relatively high level of boxing proficiency, I think going from the level he’s at to a world champion level is a long ways off,” Askren said. “Tyron was a world champion in mixed martial arts and I think I’ve had the conversation with him and he would recognize that him versus a world champion in boxing is a tough matchup. It’s not gonna go all that well.
“Now in boxing, I think there’s less big-name guys than in MMA, for sure, and so you’re not gonna get to the big-name boxers unless you go to the very, very top of the heap. If he goes to the top of the heap, he’s not gonna be competitive with them. He needs someone else who’s a big name across the bill from him to sell the fight. If it’s him versus someone we’ve never heard of, it makes it not that interesting.... The fight that makes the most sense is him fighting Tyron again. There’s now a history, there’s a backstory, Tyron also has a big name, the first fight was competitive. Who else could you make a case for?”
Askren said he enjoyed the fight overall and believes Paul did enough to prove to the critics that he is more than just a YouTuber and taking his boxing career seriously.
“I thought Tyron looked good in his boxing debut,” Askren said. “I enjoyed watching Tyron box. I’m really happy they made a bunch of money. Jake Paul, he earned my respect. It’s pretty evident he’s been working hard. It’s pretty evident, at this point, that he’s not a p*ssy. He took a few big shots, kept fighting. So that’s what I got.”
Paul has agreed to a rematch with Woodley but only if ‘The Chosen One’ gets an ‘I love Jake’ tattoo before they sign the contract.