While no one is quite sure how good of a boxer Jake Paul truly is, it seems like everyone wants to step into the ring with the YouTube star. Now 3-0 with wins over a fellow YouTuber, a retired NBA star and a former MMA champion, every one of Paul’s fights have been big business at the box office.
Since his knockout of NBA star Nate Robinson, mixed martial artists, boxers, athletes and celebrities of all stripes have issued challenges to Paul. That has only intensified since Paul’s first-round knockout of Ben Askren earlier this month. While it’s not certain when Paul will return to the ring — or who his preferred opponent is — it’s clear he has no shortage of options.
Let’s take a look at the men who have called out the social media star in hopes of scoring a big payday, or just shutting Paul up.
The MMA crowd
After Paul made easy work of Askren, Cormier joked on Twitter suggesting the fight wasn’t on the up and up. This lit a fire under Paul, who responded on his brother Logan’s podcast. “I’ll beat the f— out of your fat ass too, just like Stipe did,” Paul said. “Cleveland shit. I swear to God, I’ll beat the f— out of Daniel Cormier.” Paul ultimately said he respected Cormier but suggested they fight. This led to a confrontation between Cormier and Paul during the UFC 261 broadcast, with Cormier leaving the commentary booth to confront Paul in the crowd.
Ultimately, Cormier set his terms for the challenge to be exclusive to mixed martial arts, where he is a Hall-of-Fame-level talent and multi-time world champion and Paul has no experience. “This kid wants to fight, OK, I’ll fight him,” Cormier told ESPN. “But it will be a mixed martial arts competition. If he wants to actually fight with me, fight me in mixed martial arts and then I’ll fight him all the way down at 205. I’m living fat and happy and healthy, I’ll go all the way down to 205 to fight this kid in mixed martial arts. If you really want to fight me, like seriously fight me, fight me in mixed martial arts.”
The UFC welterweight champion stood up for Cormier, suggesting that he would take care of Paul instead. “At the end of the day that’s Daniel Cormier, one of the best to do this and Jake Paul needs to put some respect on his name when he speaks about DC,” Usman told TMZ. “They’re not even in the same realm, so it’s not something I would even entertain, I wouldn’t allow DC to entertain that. DC sit down, let me take care of that for you, let me take care of that.”
After Paul accepted the idea of boxing Usman, Usman made a turnaround on the idea, tweeting, “Keep making your money young man, and stay on that side. I ain’t no Disney kid and I don’t play fighting.”
The former UFC bantamweight champion also stepped up to defend Cormier’s honor. After Paul’s challenge to Cormier, Garbrandt joined the “get in the cage” chorus, tweeting, “Your whole squad would get f—ed up. You beat a guy that can’t box in boxing. Why won’t you come to the cage? Cause your a p—-, so is your whole squad. I’d give up 50 [pounds] to you and knock that toupeé off your f—in head. You’ll be expose soon.”
Paul and Danis have engaged in a longstanding war of words, as well as Paul throwing water balloons at Danis. The jiu-jitsu star and Bellator MMA fighter has been calling for the fight for a while. On April 18, Danis tweeted — and deleted — “it’s on 100% send me the contract let’s do this i’m gonna put this c— out cold.” He has since continued to mock Paul, while also tweeting, “Let me save the MMA community.”
The UFC middleweight contender told MMAFighting he would fight Paul “basically for free,” though the terms engagement seem to be akin to a surprise fight after locking Paul in a gym. “Just tell him, somebody go get him and I want to make it a surprise,” Vettori said. “I want to show you something. Just bring him to Huntington. Once he steps in that door, we just lock the door. Trust me, we wouldn’t be unfair. It’s not like we would jump him or something, but it’s just like you want to experiencing fighting? Good. Get into the cage and I’ll be glad to welcome him.”
Mayweather is already set to fight Logan Paul on Showtime PPV on June 6. Earlier this year, Mayweather posted on Instagram that he had both Paul brothers in his plans in 2021, writing, “This year I will focus on several exhibitions. I will have an exhibition in Tokyo, Japan again. Of course the one with Logan Paul and I; and if Jake Paul can get past his next opponent Ben Askren, I will have an exhibition with him as well.”
“Tank” Davis is a rising lightweight star and one of the men who could be a pillar of boxing’s next era. Despite plenty of career-defining fight opportunities on the table, Davis threw out the idea of fighting Paul on the undercard of his brother’s fight with Mayweather.
Tarver, a former multi-time champion, began calling for a fight with Paul in late 2020, saying he wanted to fight him for “what he did” to Nate Robinson.
Tarver doubled down on the challenge when speaking with TMZ, saying he would be spotting Paul 30 years in an attempt to prove “there are levels to this game.” Tarver was set to face former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir on the undercard of Paul vs. Askren, but his inactivity led the Georgia commission to refuse to issue a license.
Fury, the 21-year-old brother of heavyweight champ Tyson Fury, is 5-0 as a professional boxer and his name has suddenly been closely tied to a potential fight with Paul. Fury discussed his willingness to take the fight with talkSPORT, saying, “We’ll take the fight. If he sent the contract over tonight, it’d be signed and delivered straight back to him. All I see for that fight is easy money against an idiot. He makes YouTube videos for a living, he hasn’t been hit in his face in his entire life, he doesn’t know what it’s like to take a shot. I’d put my mother in with Ben Askren and my mother would chin him because he’s no good; he’s useless, he’s a wrestler. UFC is not boxing. If you’re gonna fight an MMA fighter you may as well fight a chef out of a kitchen because they can’t fight, they can’t stand up.”
After Fury promoter Frank Warren suggested a 50/50 purse split, Paul brushed off the idea when speaking with ESPN, ironically suggesting Fury needs to fight a better quality of opponent to earn the opportunity. “No one has ever watched any of his fights, the only reason people know of him is because of me. He started talking about me and his brother called me out on his behalf. No one has ever watched a Tommy Fury pay-per-view so no one knows if he will do numbers at the box office. … His promoter went on TV and said send the contract, 50/50. I was like, get out of here with that. This guy only has a name and has articles written about him because of me and you’re asking for 50/50. Take it somewhere else. Maybe when he fights someone with a winning record and a highlight performance then it makes sense for us to fight, but until then, move on.”
After retiring from the NBA, Gill began seriously training in boxing, eventually taking four professional fights, winning all four and scoring three knockouts. The 50-year-old actually has a solid line of thinking behind challenging Paul, saying he has been asked to avenge Paul’s knockout of Robinson and that the fight would draw the attention of the entire NBA fanbase, making it a massive box office attraction.
“Step up and fight some real competition,” Gill told MMAFighting. “Somebody with real boxing skills just like you. He’s ready to go. I’m ready to go. This is where we’re at, this is what we’re aiming for. I know there’s a lot of guys on deck that want to fight him. I still think with the exception of Conor McGregor, I’m the biggest fight he can get.”
NHL star Kane has been calling out Paul for a while now.
Logan was the Paul brother who actually accepted the challenge, responding on his podcast, “I’ll do it.”
NFL running back Le’Veon Bell has used boxing training to stay in shape. After Paul’s knockout of Robinson, Bell responded to a tweet questioning if he could beat Jake Paul, writing, “like I said, set it up.”
Ogogo is a British former boxer and bronze medalist in the 2012 Olympics. After an eye injury forced him into retirement, having been registered blind, Ogogo turned his attention to professional wrestling. He now is a member of All Elite Wrestling, but was quick to offer up his services in a 2020 tweet directed at Paul and touting his own accomplishments.
A four-time winner of MTV’s “The Challenge,” Taylor has a little bit of experience in the boxing ring. After the Paul vs. Askren event, Taylor suggested a pop culture icon showdown between MTV and YouTube.
“I just feel like they’re making a mockery out of boxing,” Taylor said on the the “Watch With Us: Challenge Edition” podcast. “Boxing saved my life. When I was younger — I was 21. I was drinking, smoking weed every day, getting fat, getting out of shape. I was like, ‘You know what? I’m going to go to the boxing gym. My uncle used to box when I was younger. I tried it, I dabbled with it for two summers, but never competed. So I trained for four months, the Golden Gloves were coming. It was the novice. I jumped in and got second place. The next year, I won the open. So the fact that he’s saying he’s a great boxer and all this, I think it just really kinda messes with me a little bit. I feel like he’s disrespecting boxing. He’s gassing himself up way too much. So when I see this and he’s saying, ‘Who should [I] fight next?’ Well, why don’t you fight somebody who knows what it’s like to be in the ring?”
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