No one is more stunned at Anthony Taylor’s inclusion on a major boxing pay-per-view than Anthony Taylor.
The former Bellator fighter is set to be in one of the featured bouts of the upcoming Jake Paul vs. Tyron Woodley Showtime boxing event on Aug. 29 at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland. Taylor (0-1 in boxing) fights Tommy Fury (6-0, 4 KOs), the half-brother of heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, on the main card.
Taylor has been one of Paul’s training partners as the YouTube star prepares to take on a former UFC welterweight champion. The experience has Taylor feeling like a winner before he’s even stepped back into the ring.
“I’m in Puerto Rico with Jake Paul and every other fighter out there,” he said. “I’m the coolest MMA fighter right now, that’s what I’m thinking. I’m the coolest MMA fighter. Jake Paul is in the top-10 of guys that everybody talks about in boxing. After this fight, I’m gonna be a top-10 MMA fighter that everybody’s talking about in MMA. I’m gonna be trending on social media, on Twitter, watch.”
Should Taylor’s Q-rating skyrocket after Aug. 29, it will be the culmination of a stunning reversal of fortunes for the MMA fighter who began his career 2-5 and has since rattled off five straight wins including a majority decision win over Chris Avila in his most recent outing at Bellator 238 in January 2020.
Taylor credits coach Antonio McKee with helping him to overcome the mental hurdles that plagued him a few years ago, comparing McKee to a father, brother, mentor, “everything.”
Now, Taylor has formed an unlikely partnership with the controversial Paul, who has rubbed many in the combat sports world the wrong way with his venture into boxing, including himself. It’s that friction that led to him to call out Paul on social media and get a response directly from the Paul camp.
“It’s funny because I was talking crap about him on Twitter, and his coach BJ Flores is like, ‘Hey, if you want to fight Jake Paul, why don’t you come down to Miami and spar?’
“I’m like, ‘Sure. When?’ Just jokingly, like it’s never gonna happen.
“He’s like, ‘Spar him next week. Miami. Come on down. Here’s the address.’
“I’m like, ‘Holy sh*t, I’m really about to spar Jake Paul.’”
According to Taylor, the session was like something out of Rocky 2, and he believes that he and Paul formed a newfound respect for each other that day. Taylor said one of the mistakes people make when they talk about Paul these days is that they still see him as a YouTuber as opposed to a fighter, which Taylor doesn’t agree with. As soon as Paul stepped into a ring for the first time, Taylor thinks he officially became a fighter.
When Paul signed on to fight Woodley, Taylor got the call back to be part of Paul’s training camp.
“After the Ben Askren fight he’s getting ready for the Tyron Woodley fight, he calls me up,” Taylor said. “Obviously, I made an impression. I did something right in the sparring match. I’m not gonna talk about the sparring match, because I don’t talk about sparring, but I did something for him to want to bring me back. Jake could have called anybody else in the world. Anybody else in the world, UFC fighters, boxers, but he decided to call me.”
The relationship has proven to be mutually beneficial. Paul has another fighter with an MMA background to spar with, and Taylor is seeing a financial windfall that is well beyond his expectations.
“Jake is a really good kid,” Taylor said. “Very honest. Jake paid me more money in three months training with him, being his sparring partner, than I did in my whole career in MMA of six years.”
The two have a tall task ahead of them with Paul taking on the esteemed Woodley and Taylor facing an unbeaten boxer, but “Pretty Boy” isn’t expecting either of them to have too much difficulty on fight night.
“Second-round TKO, ‘Pretty Boy’ does pretty quick work of Tommy Fury,” Taylor said, adding, “Fourth-round TKO, Jake Paul.”