On an actual boxing card with actual legitimate boxers, Jake Paul is once again boxing a non-boxer.
Although Paul insists on calling himself a boxer now that he’s 2-0, including the infamous Nate Robinson knockout, though he has yet to box an actual boxer. Well, he isn’t doing that tonight either, as the entire faith of the mixed martial arts community is on the shoulders — and love handles — of ‘Funky’ Ben Askren.
Looks are very deceiving, even in combat sports. The recent prime example is Andy Ruiz Jr’s shocking win over Anthony Joshua to become a unified world heavyweight champion. Askren is one of the most accomplished freestyle wrestlers and mixed martial artists that you’re going to find. He’s a two-time NCAA Division I Champion, two-time Big-12 Champion, and a gold medalist in the Pan-American Games, United State National Wrestling Championships, and the FILA World Grappling Championships.
Askren began his MMA career 19-0, including welterweight title runs in Bellator and One Championship. His 19th bout was his first in the UFC, followed by back-to-back losses in the promotion, before his retirement.
Askren, though, is also not a boxer.
But even so, the MMA community — one of multiple communities that can’t stand Paul and or his brother Logan — is pulling for Askren, as divisive he’s even been within the sport. It’s no different from people rooting against Dimitri Rascalov from Grand Theft Auto 4, William Rawls from The Wire, Majid Sadiq from Splinter Cell: Blacklist, or Nelson from The Simpsons. Paul, lately, has been just as animated as the latter. I don’t care either way, but I don’t blame them.
I mean, look at this shit.
But hey, if Paul loses, people will just figure out who he’ll fight next and root against him then, too. Maybe next time we see him on Triller, it’ll be an actual boxer? Nah, that’s probably wishful thinking. On a fight night featuring performances from Justin Beiber, Mount Westmore, The Black Keys, Saweetie, Doja Cat, and others, a chunk of the combat sport universe is praying to God that Askren somehow knocks Paul out. And it’s hard not to do so given the build-up to this fight.
And, again, there are actual good fights on the card. Regis Prograis versus Ivan Redkach features the return of a former World Champion attempting to get back into title contention! Steve Cunningham versus … *checks notes* … Frank Mir?!
Wait … What the fuck?
Ohhh, that’s right. Askren isn’t the only MMA legend competing in his boxing debut on this card. Mir, a former UFC Heavyweight Champion (from 2004), will box with Cunningham, a legitimate boxer who hasn’t competed in nearly four years, but was a former World Cruiserweight Champion who once gave a young Tyson Fury a fantastic effort at heavyweight. Quietly, this will be an intriguing boxing versus MMA merger, but again, what?
Oh, but who am I kidding: People are here for the circus. We’ll see what happens, I guess, but if you’re that invested in Askren defeating Paul, maybe watch Kelvin Gastelum versus Robert Whittaker instead?