Jake Paul is proving to be one of combat sports’ most effective provocateurs, but even he didn’t think he could get under Floyd Mayweather’s skin so easily.
The YouTube star-turned-boxer and the multi-division world champion met face-to-face last week when Paul was in attendance at the press conference for Mayweather’s upcoming June 6 exhibition boxing bout with Paul’s brother Logan. It wasn’t a cordial encounter as Paul took the opportunity to snatch a hat off of Mayweather’s head, an action that immediately sparked a chaotic scuffle.
In recent months, Paul has become a target for professional fighters from both the world of boxing and MMA, but he told Chael Sonnen on the You’re Welcome podcast that even for him, the scene was somewhat surreal.
“It was sort of a sensory overload with everything that was going on,” Paul said. “There was, like, eight guys around me all grabbing me, some hitting me in the leg. I’m holding onto his hat for dear life. I was like, ‘No! I’m not letting go!’ And that was the main thing that they were concerned about it, like, ‘Give us the f*cking hat, give us the hat!’ And I was like, ‘No! Noooo!’
“Then they finally got the hat and then I see this angry Floyd Mayweather, I couldn’t believe it. One of his security guards had my shirt wrapped around his hand so I couldn’t get away, and he just comes running at me and he’s throwing punches over the security guard. I’m literally like, ‘Oh wow, this is crazy,’ but the funny thing about it was none of the punches were even coming close to me at that point and he actually punched his own security guard in the side of the head. Absurd moment, hilarious. I didn’t think he was gonna get that mad over a hat.”
While it’s Logan that will soon face off with Mayweather, Paul has been the more successful pro boxer thus far. Paul is 3-0 tangling with celebrity competition, with his most recent conquest being retired former MMA champion Ben Askren. He defeated Askren by first-round knockout when they headlined a heavily-publicized Triller Fight Club event on April 17 in Atlanta.
Paul didn’t hesitate to talk plenty of trash to Askren ahead of that fight. He and Logan both have plenty of experience with working the public, having made their name through popular YouTube videos featuring various pranks and stunts. To Paul, the Mayweather incident was just another opportunity to play the clown.
“Look, it’s show business,” Paul said. “I didn’t think it was gonna go that viral, I thought it was gonna be like, ‘This is funny. Jake Paul’s an amateur little kid,’ which by the way, that’s what I was going for. I was like, this is going to be hilarious, I’m going to be like a little kid stealing someone’s hat on the playground.”
In the lead-up to Logan’s boxing match with Mayweather, Paul said he is in Logan’s camp more for support than coaching or training. Logan, the elder Paul, has yet to score a win in his boxing career, which is comprised of two bouts—one amateur, one pro—against English YouTuber KSI. Logan and KSI fought to a majority draw in their first meeting and KSI won the rematch by split decision.
The Paul brothers have drawn plenty of criticism for their past antics and for their move into boxing, but they have also drawn massive mainstream interest at every turn. That’s one reason way Jake says he was not intimidated when he faced off with Mayweather.
“Honestly, no, I’ve never been the type to get starstruck,” Paul said. “I think the reason being is because after I got famous, nothing changed. You’re not cooler, you’re not a different person. If all of a sudden I had 20 million more followers, I still wake up, drink the same coffee, put my pants on the same way. My dad always taught me, ‘Hey, you’re going to hang out with this celebrity or whatever, but look, we’re all just humans at the end of the day.’ I just look at us all as individuals and I was kind of just chilling.”