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2021 Boxing Story Of The Year: Jake Paul

Jake Paul has graduated from being a YouTuber-to-a-full-fledged boxer as he faced two former world champions of MMA, and left unscathed – a big transition from where he started the year. 

Paul entering 2021 was “the guy who KO’ed Nate Robinson”, now he is viewed as a respectable fighter, who has put time and money into the sport. 

He stopped Ben Askren, who seemingly never took the fight serious, but Paul did, and brutally KO’ed him in a fight that went viral on the aesthetic of it. 

Paul would leave Triller, which was were he found himself prior, and seemed like a major misstep from Triller as a company to let him go to an industry-leader in Showtime Sports. Paul would enter Showtime, not just grow a bigger presence he would use his YouTube channel to drop exclusive promotional features which had a larger social media grasp that the promoters and the network itself.

Jake Paul has built a brand around being absurd, shocking and jarring, but I think we missed the keyword – he has built a brand, and it is huge. Working with a great fighter B.J. Flores as well J’Leon Love, Paul is looking to be in boxing for the long haul, and also is picking interesting yet competitive bouts. 

His December 18th PPV fight was going to be his first bout against a true boxer in Tommy Fury, yet Fury pulled out due to injury setting the stage for his rematch with Tyron Woodley. 

Paul has now shown he can draw, he can sell, and he can do create means to generate headlines that a lot of these older promoters might not be willing to do. Paul is the sea change that for as long as he is winning will be striking fear in the heart of boxing purists and those at the top of the sport, because he has enough wealth and power to not care about anything they think or do, and doesn’t have to play by their rules. 

As Greg Bishop said on my show months prior, it is interesting to see how he views himself as the savior of boxing, yet a villain in the same breath. I think more interesting is how he weaponizes his appearance to be extremely absurd, while trying to disarm people with really well thought outpoint in the boxing landscape. 

Paul is someone who doesn’t let you read him, and that is what makes him so dangerous. 

Beyond that, Paul seemingly has opponents he faces uncomfortable, and out of their shell. Fighters would fight seemingly different against other people, yet, against Paul he has a star presence not unlike the big name fighters in the sport, which is jarring since we don’t usually see this from someone so new to the sport. 

Paul’s KO of Tyron Woodley to end the year summed his conquest of boxing. Boxing doesn’t use social media well, nor does it market itself great. Paul on Instagram alone has nearly 18 million followers at the time of this writing, and holds so much power based on the numbers around his content, entertainment, and the eyeballs he merits when he fights. Paul isn’t going to be a boxer – I see him as someone who will spark change, and be a moment in the sport. 

It will be interesting to see where he goes in 2022, as he seems to be looking to go big year-after-year, which is a very anti-boxing aesthetic, as boxing tries its best to be profitable and do the same ol’ stuff year-after-year. Paul will change boxing, and I think it is probably for the better.

Beyond that, Paul has the mentality of a Fortune 500 CEO, which is something we often don’t see at the forefront of sports entertainment.

Honorable Mention: 

Triller – Triller went from a classy enjoyable product we cheered for in late 2020 to a car-wreck we couldn’t help, but watch. A company that blended boxing with pop-culture, and seemingly valued wealth and status as much as the in-ring action, seemed to be the newest installment of Affliction MMA, a doomed MMA promotion. Though Triller Fight Club is still going, it seems as though with the Triad Combat, which is a hybrid of boxing and MMA in a triangle ring, that looks like BYB Extreme’s triangle as well. They lost the head of their boxing operations in Peter Kahn, who we also awarded manager of the year this year, and just feels like they’re spending a lot of money, but not really developing young talent, as recent quality fights such as Jerry Forrest vs Michael Hunter II and Nahir Albright vs. Michael Dutchover, both are still behind paywalls, and should honestly have short clips to be shared on social media. 

Triller has been a company that wanted us to look at them, and in 2021 we did – now moving forward will we still, I am curious to see?

Canelo One Step Closer To Being The Mexican GOAT – Canelo did something historic and walked away with every super middleweight world title, becoming the first undisputed Mexican world champion, and now is that much closer to becoming the greatest Mexican fighter, which he inevitable will become. Not unlike watching a prime Kobe Bryant, just enjoy Canelo’s run – it is historic. 

Lightweight Division – We have a slew of good fighters at or around lightweight including Teofimo Lopez, Devin Haney, George Kambosos Jnr., Gervonta Davis, Ryan Garcia, Shakur Stevenson, and Chris Colbert to name a few. Watching the stories revolving around any-and-all of these fighters have been interesting, because it is interesting to see who emerges from this wealth of talent. People have deemed them the four kings, an ode to the 80’s fighters, but let’s see them fight each other, and go from there. When we have deep division it always makes the sport fun, since we have a better chance of getting better fights. 

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Lukie Ketelle

Lukie Ketelle