Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Paul Passes The Test Of Anderson Silva, Has The Time Come To Fight Boxers?

 The question leading up to the Cruiserweight bout between undefeated aspiring boxer and YouTube star Jake Paul and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) legend and future Hall of Famer Anderson Silva was whether it was another novelty or if Silva would be able to provide Paul a legitimate test. While the question is largely rooted in the fact that Paul had yet to fight someone with a Boxing background in his five previous professional fights, the irony that came along with this fight was, despite his illustrious career in the sport of MMA, Anderson Silva began his combat sports career as a boxer and in his late 40’s had returned to the sport including scoring an upset decision victory over former WBC Middleweight world champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. last year. Given Silva’s limited, but respectable Boxing resume, the question of whether he would provide a legitimate test was fair to ask. If one were to remove the twenty-two year age difference out of the equation for a moment, a fighter with a 3-1, with 2 Knockouts facing a fighter with a 5-0, with 4 Knockouts record as Paul had was akin at least statistically to what Paul would see had he taken the conventional route to begin his Boxing career as most young fighters see at the beginning stages of their careers.

Of course, the question and statistics that came with this fight almost became moot as for a time in the days leading up to the bout on October 29th at the Gila River Arena in Glendale, AZ, there was a question as to whether the fight would be allowed to take place as Silva had claimed in an interview with an MMA news outlet that he had been knocked out twice while training for the bout. This promoted the Arizona Boxing and MMA commission to investigate further and conduct further medical screening of Silva a mere forty-eight hours before the bout.

Thankfully for all involved, the Arizona commission were satisfied with their findings and the bout was allowed to proceed as scheduled. One may question why such an investigation and medical screening process was not completed well in advance of the week of the fight. Although this observer had a thought that perhaps Silva’s claim was an attempt by the veteran to potentially get under the skin of his younger opponent, if that is indeed the case, which is purely speculation on the part of yours truly, it seems like it created a waste of time both for the commission and everyone involved in the bout by creating the possibility of a cancellation so close to the day of the fight.

Silva’s possible gamesmanship aside, with him being cleared to fight it was time for Paul and Silva to do battle. Despite his advanced age in terms of combat sports competition, Silva did display flashes of what made him an extremely elusive fighter during his MMA career in using upper body movement to bait Paul into throwing punches and making him miss. This along with effective counter punching, ability to attack in spurts of offense, and having particular success with landing uppercuts to the head of Paul throughout the bout, proved to be the test that many had wanted to see of Paul. In addition to the success that Silva had in finding a home for his uppercuts, he also succeeded in consistently applying pressure and backing Paul up throughout the bout.

What impressed me about Paul's performance was not only how he responded to the pressure and the ability to take Silva’s punches, he also fired back with punches of his own and often did so in combination in significantly out throwing Silva in total punches. Silva’s accuracy however, with the offense he did throw was hard to ignore and as the scheduled eight round bout moved into the final two rounds, I felt the fight could be reasonably close due largely to Silva’s consistent pressure, which can leave an impression on judges as to who is dictating the combat beyond who might be the busier fighter in terms of offensive activity. In the eighth round, Silva began aggressively appearing to know that the fight was close. Silva made one critical error that in this observer's view proved to be the difference in the fight. He appeared to rush in and for a split second provided Paul with the opportunity to land a well-timed counter right hand to the head knocking the future MMA Hall of Famer to the canvas. Although Silva managed to get up and finish the bout, the knockdown proved to be the seal of a unanimous decision for Paul to move the novice boxer's record to 6-0, with 4 Knockouts.

With another victory under his belt, if one is objective, it is hard to ignore the progress Jake Paul has made in his development as an aspiring boxer. The time has come however, where Paul and specifically those around him as well as premium cable network Showtime to make a decision.

A decision regarding what exactly the goal is for Paul and the network, which has broadcast his last three bouts via pay-per-view. Is the goal to continue fighting notable names from another sport under Boxing rules, or is the goal legitimately to be a boxer that wants to be taken seriously. If the answer is the latter, it is time for Showtime or perhaps its parent company Paramount to tell Paul that he must fight against fighters with a primary Boxing background and against fighters that will help him in his development as a boxer. No different than any aspiring boxer that begins their career and see where things progress.

While no one can take anything away from Jake Paul or his brother Logan in terms of their ability to generate interest, particularly amongst non-Boxing or even non-Sports fans in general, the bottom line is the standard of the sport needs to be respected and without that realization and without that commitment by both Paul and the network that has chosen to associate itself with him, the reality is that while his fights may continue to generate interest for a time, there should be no discussions about Paul facing one of the top fighters in Boxing, no discussion about a sanctioning organization potentially ranking him, and certainly no talk about fighting for world titles. There are countless fighters throughout the entire sport, men and women who work their way up through the ranks to get into position to fight for a world championship. There has never been a scenario where someone began their career at the top level and was able to get into a world championship fight without earning an opportunity.

 Even though the road is shorter for some than it is for others, depending on their amateur background and/or who they beat as a professional, the general standard in the sport has mostly remained the same. A fighter turns pro, has a few fights, hopefully progresses to the level of a prospect, then the caliber of opposition is increased, if said fighter continues to progress not only in terms of winning, but also in terms of their development as far as their skills, they are moved up into fights against contenders and/or seasoned veterans. If the fighter continues to succeed from there, then and only then, should there be a discussion about that fighter challenging the best the sport has to offer and/or challenging for world titles.

It may indeed be a nee era where the term “Influencer Boxing” is now part of the landscape. While Paul did come through this test against someone with some Boxing experience, is he an Influencer who just wants fights that for better or worse will generate attention against notable names from other sports and/or other Influencers, or is he a legitimate boxer that wants to be taken seriously?

Obviously, this observer can’t answer that question, but it is one that needs to be answered clearly both by Paul himself and by Showtime/Paramount, because not answering the question and not clearly defining what the “End Game” is, is disrespectful to every young fighter both in the amateurs and in the professional ranks that are striving to work their way into contention the legitimate way and not looking to take shortcuts, even though those fighters may not have the benefit starting out of having a following that someone in Paul’s position might.

“And That’s The Boxing Truth. “

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