Jake Paul isn’t bothered by people still criticizing him.
On Saturday, Paul scored the biggest win of his boxing career, taking a unanimous decision victory over former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva in one of the most anticipated bouts of the year.
A few days removed from his signature win, Paul is still taking it all in.
“It’s still pretty crazy to me, beating one of the greatest combat strikers of all time,” Paul told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour. “I’m just proud of myself. I’m proud I was able to execute everything we worked on in the gym. This is the first fight where everything was slowed down for me, and I was able to really, really handle the moment really well and execute the game plan perfectly. I felt really comfortable in there, and here we are. It’s unbelievable, it’s surreal. I can’t believe I actually pulled it off, but I’m very proud of myself.”
On top of outworking Silva over eight rounds, Paul even put a stamp on his win, knocking Silva down with a short right hand in the final round of the fight. But while the knockdown removed any doubt of who won the fight for most, it also brought about claims from conspiracy theorists that the fight was “rigged.”
These sort of claims aren’t new to Paul, who faced similar backlash in his fight with Tyron Woodley. “The Problem Child” said it’s something that will always plague his career because people just can’t stand to see him win.
“I think smart people with intelligence are giving me props and respect,” Paul said. “Like the WBC President [Mauricio Sulaimán] saying that anyone who says Jake is not a real boxer is just bitter and is a hater. People like Teddy Atlas showing me mad respect, a lot of fighters showing me mad respect, a lot of MMA guys texting me saying, ‘You look really sharp, that was the best you’ve fought,’ Ryan Garcia showing me respect. So the smart people who I care about are showing that love. There are the people who will always be there in my career who are discrediting it. Now, they’re saying it was rigged. It went from, ‘Jake’s going to get knocked out by Anderson,’ to, ‘Oh, that was rigged.’ ...
“I lose faith in my generation and my peers, and us as a society and a world when I see that type of stuff and that type of stupidity. It just sucks. It sucks because I worked so hard for this. I dedicate everything, sacrifice everything, every single day, bust my balls, have a 15-person team working around the clock to help me become the best boxer possible, and when I do something like beating Anderson Silva, they try to take it away from me. But I know deep down, and I guess that’s all that really matters.”
While Paul undoubtedly still has some doubters, the win over Silva was a big step up in competition. It proved the YouTube influencer is working hard and improving as boxer. Paul admitted that had the fight happened a year ago, the outcome would have been much different.
“Even the Jake that fought Tyron Woodley in Tampa wouldn’t have beaten this version of Anderson Silva,” Paul said. “I have gotten so much better this year, so much sharper. It’s kudos to my team but also I’ve only been doing this as a professional for about three years now, so this year was the third year where everything really just started to click in the gym. And just handling the moment and the pressure. I think even those fights in Cleveland and Tampa, I was still learning how to work with the crowd, still learning how to feel good under the lights, hold in the anticipation of the big moment. That’s art and now I really have that down. I wasn’t nervous for this fight at all, it was like I was supposed to be there.”
The win moved Paul to 6-0 professionally and kept a number of high-profile matchups in play for the YouTube star, including bouts against Nate Diaz, Tommy Fury, or even Floyd Mayweather. And while Paul isn’t sure exactly what’s next, it’s doesn’t really matter, because after beating Anderson Silva, everything else is just extra.
“I feel like definitely professional boxer is the No. 1 criticism, but again, anyone that is smart knows that Anderson Silva is a real professional boxer, and just beat a former world champion,” Paul said. “So I don’t know. I haven’t really been on social media, seeing if people are still criticizing because of that — I’ve seen the ‘rigged’ thing — but at this point, I’m just going to do whatever the f*** I want, and fight whoever is willing and ready to show up. ...
“Anything else that happens now is just a cherry on top,” Paul continued. “My brother says I should retire and leave the world and just leave people with their jaws dropped. ‘That kid just went 6-0, beat some of MMA’s best, and then just doesn’t do it anymore.’ I’m not going to do that, but I have exceeded my own expectations. But I think this is just the start. I’m really starting to get good, and there’s a lot of people that I want to beat. I want to be a world champion. I originally was like, I’ll go 10-0 and then retire. But now I’m 6-0, and it feels like I’m just getting warmed up. So who knows what ends up happening.”