For the first time in his boxing career, Jake Paul has the odds going against him.
After signing to fight UFC legend Anderson Silva in his sixth pro bout, the 25-year-old social influencer, who now considers himself a full-time combat sports athlete, found himself the underdog when odds makers first released the betting lines for the fight.
As he continues to battle for legitimacy in his boxing career, Paul is actually excited that he’s finally going up against an opponent that’s he’s not necessarily supposed to beat.
“I love it,” Paul told MMA Fighting. “It’s definitely more motivating. I love proving people wrong. That’s what I’m best at, quite literally my whole entire life has been proving people wrong and feeding off of doubt.”
When he first accepted the fight against Silva, who holds a 3-1 professional boxing record including a notable win over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., Paul knew he was about to face his toughest challenge to date.
In fact, he revealed that even some of the people closest to him questioned the choice to single out Silva as his next opponent just due to the inherent risk that comes along with the fight.
“You can’t mess around with one of the greatest strikers, if not the greatest striker in combat sports history,” Paul said about Silva. “His hands are more experienced by far than anyone I’ve ever been in there with combined. This is not a joke. I don’t take him lightly. He has knockout power. He beat a former world champion. Knowing the risk and being OK with it is what I’m doing with this fight. I’m letting it motivate me versus letting it scare me.
“Even my brother [Logan Paul] was like ‘are you sure you’re ready for this?’ and the answer was yes. I know what I’m capable of.”
Beyond his new role as an underdog, Paul is also going into a fight for the first time where there’s genuinely no animosity with his opponent, which is a huge change of pace from past encounters with UFC veterans like Ben Askren and Tyron Woodley.
Silva being a notoriously nice guy might seem like the perfect way to disarm Paul from one of the things he does best and that’s promoting his fights through trash talk in interviews and social media.
There’s been none of that in the days and weeks leading to this fight but Paul welcomes the chance to face respectful opponents like Silva, although he promises the results will still be the same.
“This is definitely a change of pace but it’s kind of refreshing,” Paul said. “I don’t mind it at all. I have a ton of respect for Anderson. Obviously he was my idol growing up. First celebrity I ever met. So it’s kind of crazy that we’re here today. You couldn’t write this in a movie. So it’s refreshing and I like how things are going and I think it’s almost more entertaining. Even our press conference was just so outlandish and so different. I try not to reach too much into it though.
“I think a lot of people are like ‘is he trying to play mind games with you and be nice?’ We’re fighters at the end of the day. When the bell rings and you get punched in the face, all that friendly s*** goes out the window.”
Rather than focus on anything Silva is saying, Paul prefers to keep his full attention on the fight itself, which is another benefit he’s found from the friendly buildup ahead of the Oct. 29 showdown.
Paul says that Silva commands that respect and it’s going to require maximum effort on his part if he wants to leave the ring with his undefeated record intact but he also expects this will be the last time he’ll be facing these sort of odds.
“I will have to fight a perfect fight,” Paul said. “That is not an easy thing to do but if I can go in there, fight a perfect fight, stick to the game plan, I believe my power will come out on top and I will be able to catch him and knock him out.
“When I’m put into the position like this, it just motivates me even more and I think this will be the last fight where I’m the underdog. Mark my words, come back to this interview, this will be the last fight of my career where I’m the underdog.”