By Mark Elezaj
CLEVELAND, Ohio — Jake Paul, the YouTube star-turned-prizefighter, outpointed Tyron Woodley via split decision (77-75, 75-77, 78-74) at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse.
“I learned a lot tonight,” Paul said after the fight via ESPN.com.
“First time going back past four minutes. First time in an eight-round fight. To be honest, I won convincingly. We’re gonna go back to the drawing board. I think I proved a lot and proved a lot of people wrong.”
Like it or not, Paul has his biggest win to date on his journey to become a respectable boxer in the division.
The early rounds were close with little action. Paul came on in the third, landing a nice uppercut-left-hand combination.
Woodley’s best moment came in the fourth round, landing a huge right hand that rocked Paul against the ropes.
Woodley came out strong at the beginning of the fifth, but Paul stole the round with a left hand at the bell.
Paul controlled the action in rounds six and seven, and Woodley had one of his best rounds in the eighth.
Paul (4-0, 3 KOs) went past the second round for the first time in four professional fights.
Before Sunday nights fight, he knocked out YouTube rival Ali Eson Gib in the first round, retired NBA point guard Nate Robinson in the second round and retired UFC welterweight Ben Askren in the first round.
“That was the first time I took a real shot with 10-ounce gloves in four fights,” Paul said. “I ate it; it was a good shot. This is boxing. If you’re a mechanic, you’re gonna get dirty. But I proved I have a chin.”
Both fighters had issues with the decision.
Paul said it was “bulls***” that judge Phil Rogers, had the fight for Woodley, while Woodley was upset that a different judge had only given him two rounds.
After the fight, Paul and Woodley agreed to a rematch if Woodley gets an “I love Jake Paul” tattoo.
“I didn’t hit the ground like his other opponents,” Woodley said. “I walked him down and gave it back. Let’s run it back.”
“He’s a tough opponent,” Paul told Showtime’s Ariel Helwani during his post-fight interview in the ring.
“He’s been boxing, fighting, whatever you wanna call it, for several years. I’ve been doing this for three years… It was a tougher fight than I expected. My legs felt weird in the locker room. I don’t know what was wrong with me, but he’s a tough opponent. All respect to Tyron. You know, he’s a Hall-of-Famer. He put up a good fight. He’s a good boxer. He came in shape. I have nothing but respect for him. There was a lot of sh*t talk back and forth.”
“I didn’t fight my best tonight,” Paul said. “I give myself a C-minus. It’s my first time fighting in front of a crowd since my first amateur fight.”
Paul outlanded Woodley 71-52 in total punches, per CompuBox, however Woodley landed more power punches, 41-35 while Paul landed more jabs at 36-11.
“I thought I won, to be honest,” Woodley said. “I was surprised it was a split decision. I thought it was close. … My demeanor and my emotion is because I wanted to knock him out. I had a couple big shots I landed, a couple opportunities and I think I had him hurt and I had him tired a couple times and I didn’t press him. I should have pressed him a little more.”
“I feel like Jake’s a great opponent. I didn’t expect him to go down. That’s why I came in great shape, because I knew he could take a punch. But the fact that one judge gave me two rounds is laughable. No disrespect, but f*** the [Tommy] Fury fight. We need to run that back. Me and Jake need to run that back.”
When asked what his next step was before the Woodley exchange, Paul demurred and didn’t even commit to a time he would return to the ring.
“I think I might to need chill out for a second, figure out who I am. I’m only 24. I’m changing, I’m growing, I’m learning a lot,” Paul said to Helwani. “I’m going to get back in the gym when I’m ready and we’ll see.”
When talking about future opponents, Paul has been pushing for a Conor McGregor match and just recently called for a fight against Jorge Masvidal in the run-up to the Woodley fight.
“Who’s doing it bro?” Paul told MMA Junkie. “This is crazy – selling out this whole-ass arena, a whole different audience. This wasn’t a boxing audience here tonight, doing a bigger gate, more revenue than Conor McGregor in his 18th fight, selling hundreds and tens and thousands and millions of pay-per-views. I need a moment to reflect on this sh*t. I’ve been going on nonstop for 18 months, and we’ll see what’s next.”
~ The Fighting Voice ~