Thursday, August 3, 2023

Paul-Diaz: More Event Than Fight?


In February of this year, social media influencer turned boxer Jake Paul traveled to Saudi Arabia where the third time proved to be the charm in that Paul's on again, off again scheduled bout with undefeated Cruiserweight boxer Tommy Fury finally took place. Fury’s identification as s boxer is significant in that despite boasting an unbeaten record of 6-0, with 4 Knockouts going into the fight, Paul had built that record off facing folks who did not have a Boxing background or had very little Boxing training prior to those fights. In what was a close, but nondescript fight that did not have much in the way of highlights, Fury emerged victorious by scoring an eight round split decision over Paul and thus handed him his first loss as a professional. 


While this observer has been fair, but also critical of the craze that has emerged in the sport of Boxing in recent years of those with the label of “Influencer” entering the sport as I feel it does draw interest from potential demographics that otherwise would likely have little to no interest in the sport, but who’s involvement in it still to be determined as to whether or not it is truly to Boxing’s benefit or if the “Influencer” craze is simply a revamped version of “Celebrity Boxing” under a different label, Jake Paul has shown himself to be a good promoter, who in fairness is trying to bring attention to several issues within the sport that yours truly has written about regularly over the many years that I have covered Boxing and by extension combat sports including fighter pay, healthcare, and his support of Women’s Boxing in assisting in its long overdue growth is something that cannot be ignored. Despite losing to Tommy Fury, Paul did hold his own in what could be called his first legitimate fight as a boxer. 


Although Paul had boasted about fighting some of the top fighters in the sport and challenging for world titles, the takeaway from his loss to Fury was that although such boasts do serve a purpose in generating publicity, you can only go so far by facing people in a sport where they do not have a background in it. While Paul deserves credit for holding his own against Fury, his next fight will attempt to draw upon what had worked previously for him as he will face MMA veteran Nate Diaz in a scheduled ten round Cruiserweight bout at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, TX. A fight that will headline a DAZN Pay-Per-View card. Much like most of Paul's previous opponents, Diaz will be making his professional Boxing debut after spending much of his career in the sport of Mixed Martial Arts fighting in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) where he won the promotion’s Ultimate Fighter reality competition in its fifth season. 

Frankly, the story going into this fight is what Diaz, who is the third MMA fighter that Paul will be fighting in a Boxing ring, will bring to the table. Although Boxing is a martial art, a discipline, which is a part of the sport of MMA, there is only so much analysis one can provide because the fact is that Boxing and Mixed Martial Arts are two different sports and what you might see work well in terms of striking with hands in a fight fought under MMA rules in an MMA format might not work in a Boxing ring with Boxing gloves on, or at the very least, may not work as well because in MMA, fighters wear gloves that have only one ounce of padding and the gloves also allow the fighter’s hands to be open to engage in grappling. It is also worth noting that fighters in MMA also over the last twenty-five or so years as the sport has gotten more organized since its inception in promotions adopting a universal standard of rules, also fight barefoot, which depending on the situation can have a difference in a fighter’s ability to plant their feet and throw punches with both power and leverage. Diaz has shown decent hand speed and punching power in fights fought under MMA rules so, whether those skills will transition to the Boxing ring is something that remains to be seen. 


One thing that could be a red flag that some might point to is there have been times throughout his MMA career where Diaz has been susceptible to being caught and knocked down by right hands. The questions regarding the credibility and legitimacy of Jake Paul's Boxing career aside, there is one primary weapon he has used in most of his fights that have ended many of them, his right hand. It will be interesting to see if Paul will look to land what has proven to be his power punch in previous fights this time around. 


Although Paul is going back to what is familiar for him in facing a notable name from a different sport under conditions that do not favor that opponent, it has nevertheless succeeded in generating buzz. This is also perhaps a fight designed to restore his confidence after suffering his first loss. If Paul is looking to this fight to silence the critics questioning his validity as a boxer, this observer believes that a victory over Nate Diaz will likely not accomplish that. A victory, however, would likely restore his confidence. There will however, come a point where the realization that in order to fight the best fighters in the sport of Boxing and challenge for world championships, one needs to gain experience against fighters with a Boxing background and beat them to get that opportunity will come into the equation. One simply cannot gain such experience facing folks with little to no background in a sport where the fight will be occurring. While Paul may not get the experience he needs to continue developing if he indeed is serious about hoping to compete at or near the top level of the sport in this fight, he has succeeded in creating another event, which will draw interest from a wide range of demographics. It would be nice, however, if a competitive fight that some might not expect broke out as well. 


“And That’s The Boxing Truth.” 


Paul vs. Diaz takes place on Saturday, August 5th at the American Airlines Center in Dallas TX. The fight as well as its full undercard can be seen on a pay-per-view basis globally on DAZN Pay-Per-View with preliminary bouts beginning at 6PM ET/3PM PT with the pay-per-view portion beginning at 8PM ET/5PM PT for $59.99. For more information about DAZN including schedules, list of compatible streaming devices, platforms, Smart TVs, Availability around the world, local start times in your area, to subscribe and order this pay-per-view card please visit:  

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