Often in sport, divisive characters come along to split opinions and cause controversy.
Boxing is no different, with Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson and Floyd Mayweather Jr. among those to have frequently captured attention in and out of the ring during their careers.
But the merit of being one of the headline attractions is no longer bookmarked for only the sport’s most prestigious names.
In the more recent era of social media and online celebrities, boxing has been used as a publicity tool for generating fame and dividing audiences by those previously not connected to the sport.
Enter Jake Paul - a social media personality who has been key in ushering in a new YouTube phenomenon in boxing. From a Disney child actor and high-profile social media presence, Paul made his move into boxing in 2018.
Four years on from that maiden venture into the ring as an ‘amateur’, Paul is now arguably one of the biggest attractions in professional boxing and prepares to face UFC legend Anderson Silva next. But is he good or bad for the sport?
Jake Paul’s Positive Points For Boxing
From a child actor on the Disney channel to a polarising social media celebrity, Paul has always been in the spotlight in some form.
But his surprising jump into boxing caused an immediate widespread backlash and continues to do so each time he steps into the ring against carefully selected opponents.
Despite this, Paul has unexpectedly brought some positive impacts to boxing, whether fans like it or not.
Due to his background and fame, Paul has brought a whole new audience to the sport, with many younger viewers now tuning in for his fights.
These are people who may have never watched boxing before and, outside of Paul’s ring outings, may never watch any others again.
But there’s always the chance of a group of these newfound supporters becoming hooked and sticking around for boxing in the future.
With that in mind, Paul has shifted a lot of eyes towards the sport, regardless of who’s fighting. YouTube Boxing has become a new niche offspring of the sport, which was kickstarted by Paul and other similar celebrities such as KSI.
Whether it’s Jake Paul or Canelo Alvarez fights that are being watched by this new audience, it’s still a form of boxing, nevertheless. This can only be a positive point overall.
As well as a positive aspect for the support of boxing and new legions of fans, Paul has managed to provide a boost to proper fighters who needed a better platform to perform on.
Paul has opened doors for professional boxers to both showcase their skills in front of massive crowds and audiences, as well as earning more prosperous purses on high-profile events.
On a personal and business level, Paul has become close to fighters such as Amanda Serrano, who he continues to help and promote.
Serrano was previously involved in a monumental night for women’s boxing at Madison Square Garden, making history in a showdown against Katie Taylor.
While it was obviously the fighters themselves who put on the spectacle, Paul was a helpful bonus on the side in pushing the fight through his own following.
The YouTuber-turned-boxer has also recently signed up highly promising talent Ashton Sylve to his Most Valuable Promotions stable. The California teenager is one of the top prospects in boxing and will perform on the Paul vs. Silva undercard.
Going against the status quo of boxing since his arrival on the scene, Paul has become one of the top names in the sport, regardless of his level of opponents or actual skill.
A key factor in his initial backlash was an apparent lack of respect for a sport in which so many fighters dedicate their entire life to.
But Paul has shown that he does in fact respect boxing and genuinely puts in the hard work required each day to succeed - for now.
Negative Boxing Impact of Jake Paul
No matter how much of a positive impact Paul has on boxing or the level of hysteria he creates, many fans and those associated with the sport will never accept him.
The widespread suggestion was that Paul was making a mockery of boxing, when first entering the ring and seemingly not taking it as seriously as is required.
So many fighters work tirelessly every day to try and make something of themselves, while balancing families and full-time jobs, but aren’t able to secure the desired breakthrough to the mainstream.
Plenty of boxers only manage to get by with the help of sponsors and other jobs outside of training, while Paul jumped into the sport and has routinely made a huge financial income.
As Paul made boxing appear like an easy sport to compete in and make money from ($40 million in 2021 alone), it infuriated those properly involved and invested in it professionally. In reality, there’s no tougher sport than boxing.
While Paul has helped some boxers appear on undercards and boost their own profiles, his high-profile ventures have arguably taken the shine off ‘proper’ boxing stars as he headlines on huge platforms such as Showtime.
So, Is Jake Paul Good or Bad For Boxing?
So, has Paul had a more positive or negative impact on boxing since arriving on the scene four years ago?
Many argue either way but, whether his time in the ring is a short-term stint or long-term career move, he has already caused a stir in a short space of time.
Regardless of which side of the argument fans are on, Paul will continue to pursue the financial rewards associated with his drift into boxing as long as he physically can.
His supporters will carry on watching in the hope he continues to have his hand raised, while others desiring his downfall may tune in for the potential humbling they've craved for so long.
Either way, many will be watching as former UFC middleweight champion, Silva, becomes the latest chosen fighter attempting to finally derail Paul’s so far smooth yet controversial ride into boxing.
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