The month of August in the sport of Boxing will conclude with a pay-per-view event highlighted by YouTube star and undefeated boxer Jake Paul returning to the ring for his fourth professional fight as he faces two-time MMA Welterweight world champion in a Cruiserweight bout scheduled for eight rounds. A fight that will headline a five bout pay-per-view card broadcast in the United States by Showtime Pay-Per-View and streamed globally by digital combat sports network and pay-per-view platform FITE on Sunday, August 29th from the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland, OH.
In his last fight in April of this year, Paul scored a one punch first round knockout over former MMA world champion Ben Askren in the main event of Triller’s, a relative newcomer in Boxing, Fight Club series. Although Paul faced no significant resistance in that outing against Askren, his third knockout in as many fights along with a significant following on social media and YouTube attracted the interest of ViacomCBS-owned Showtime Networks, who signed him to a multi-fight deal. As some may recall in this observer’s coverage of that fight, even though I gave Paul the benefit of doubt, it was noted that none of his three career victories came against fighters with Boxing experience and to take it a step further, only one of Paul’s opponents, Askren, had combat sports experience.
Now, Paul prepares for his fourth career bout against Tyron Woodley. Much like Askren, Woodley is a former MMA world champion having won two Welterweight championships in the now defunct Strikeforce MMA promotion and in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
Although Woodley has an MMA record of 19-7 and does have heavy hands, he will be making his professional Boxing debut in this fight. While there is still much that is unknown about Jake Paul due simply to the fact that as of yet he has not faced someone with experience as a boxer, and keeping in mind that we likely won’t know what Woodley brings to the table as far as Boxing ability is concerned, it is fair to ask the question as to whether mere curiosity will be successful for Paul in the long-term without facing people with legitimate Boxing backgrounds or, despite his success in creating interest particularly amongst casual fans is a novelty that has a limited timeframe.
There is no disputing whether one agrees with their tactics or not that Jake Paul and his brother Logan have succeeded in terms of generating interest and now under the Showtime banner there is opportunity to create significant lucrative opportunities. There is also however, significant risks that go along with that. For a network in Showtime’s position, it’s an obvious roll of the dice by investing in a fighter who has yet to face a boxer and trying to market that fighter as a pay-per-view attraction even as the sport of Boxing is in a transitional period where overall decline of pay-per-view buys has made way for digital subscription streaming networks to offer a significant portion of Boxing content for a reasonably priced subscription fee as opposed to the pay-per-view model. What makes this risky is the possibility that Paul might lose, which whether fairly or not may turn off a portion of buyers, to be more specific, the casual fan for whom Boxing is of sporadic interest.
Whether or not such a scenario will play out with this fight against Tyron Woodley remains to be seen, but perhaps this could also be a test run of sorts for Showtime to see what they have in terms of potential revenue generation before the powers that be at the network start insisting that Paul face boxers going forward.
As for what this event will offer the Boxing enthusiasts beyond drawing in the casual observer, the card headlined by the Paul-Woodley bout will see four bouts featuring world champions, rising prospects, and contenders in action. In the co-main event, seven-division world champion Amanda
Serrano will defend her unified Women’s WBC/WBO/IBO Featherweight world championship against Yamileth Mercado in a bout scheduled for ten rounds.
Serrano is rightfully regarded as one of the top female fighters in the world having won world championships in seven different weight classes. With forty wins in her forty-two professional bouts Serrano appears to be on the road to being a Hall of Famer. In terms of the near future, the possibility is also there for Serrano to potentially challenge current undefeated Undisputed Lightweight world champion Katie Taylor in what would be one of the best fights that could be made in Women’s Boxing if both world champions continue to win. In Yamileth Mercado, Serrano will face a veteran of twenty professional fights, but one might argue that Mercado is at a significant disadvantage against the champion both in terms of overall ring experience and in terms of quality of opposition. What Mercado does have going for her is she has won her last six fights and is the current WBC Jr. Featherweight world champion. She has never been stopped in her career and the question might be whether or not with only five knockouts to her credit if she will have the type of punching power to get Serrano’s respect. Serrano has thirty knockouts in her forty career wins and she has shown in the past that she can end fights quickly if given the opportunity so it will be interesting to see what approach the champion will take in this title defense.
WBA number one rated Heavyweight contender Daniel Dubois will also be in action on this card as he faces Joe Cusumano in a bout scheduled for ten rounds. Dubois, who will enter the fight with a record of 16-1, with 15 Knockouts has been known as one of the Heavyweight division’s rising “Knockout Artists.” In his lone defeat Dubois was stopped by undefeated fellow contender Joe Joyce in November of last year when Dubois took a knee after being hit by a jab and was counted out. It was later revealed that Dubois had suffered a broken left eye socket. This will be his second fight since that knockout loss after returning to the ring earlier this summer and scoring a second round knockout of Bogdan Dinu.
In all honesty, this fight has all the appearance at least on paper as both a stay busy fight as well as an attempt to continue rebuilding confidence for Dubois following his first defeat. Dubois’ opponent Joe Cusumano is a veteran of twenty-two professional bouts and will come in with a respectable record of 19-3, with 17 Knockouts. Although Cusumano has never been stopped and has a career knockout percentage of over 60%, he will be making a step up in this fight in terms of caliber of opponent. Anything can happen when two fighters get into a ring however, and this especially holds true in regard to the Heavyweight division. Despite the appearance this fight might give on paper, Dubois was not tested in his last fight and the question that is always asked of fighters that suffer a knockout loss at any stage is what effect did it have on them both physically and mentally. It is logical to think that Cusumano will try to test Dubois’ resolve in this fight if given the chance.
Rounding out the pay-per-view card will be a scheduled six round Cruiserweight bout featuring undefeated prospect Tommy Fury looking for the seventh win of his career as he faces Anthony Taylor. As the Dubois-Cusumano bout has an appearance at least on paper as a stay busy fight for Dubois, this fight is in reality a showcase for Fury, the brother of undefeated two-time Heavyweight world champion Tyson Fury. Taylor will enter this fight, the second of his career looking for his first victory. In that fight in 2017, Taylor was defeated by Donte Stubbs in a four round split decision. The question that faces Taylor here is what will he bring to the table against Fury, who has four knockouts in his six wins and more specifically, what can he offer after a four year hiatus from competition.
The main story of the night however, will of course be the clash between Jake Paul and Tyron Woodley. Although it ultimately remains to be seen what type of fight we will see and perhaps more importantly, how successful this fight will do in terms of pay-per-view buys even as the medium of pay-per-view is in a state of decline. As this observer has done ever since the influx of those who have entered into the Boxing world through unconventional routes whether it be through first achieving notoriety through YouTube or other mediums, I am taking the “Wait and see” approach. No matter what happens in this fight, hopefully, this influx of bouts between aspiring boxers and mixed martial artists will eventually lead to good things for the sport of Boxing. It would also be a good thing if those who enter Boxing in non-traditional ways seek to prove themselves against boxers as well.
“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”
Paul vs. Woodley takes place Tomorrow night (Sunday, August 29th) at the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland, OH. The card can be seen in the United States and globally on Showtime Pay-Per-View on cable and satellite and streamed globally on FITE TV. The broadcast will begin at 8PM ET/5PM PT (U.S. Time) following a one hour preshow that will begin at 7PM ET/4PM PT. Contact your cable or satellite provider to order. To order on FITE download the fight app on mobile, table, and connected streaming devices/platforms/Smart TVs or order on FITE’s website online at the following link: https://www.fite.tv/watch/paul-vs-woodley/2p9vn/
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