Matchroom Sports Chairman Eddie Hearn once stood next to Jake Paul and told the YouTuber turned boxer, in so many words, that he wasn’t that good.
That was a whole fourth months ago, when Paul was Hearn’s brief promoting partner in a lightweight boxing title fight between his boxer, multi-division champ Katie Taylor, and Paul’s in Amanda Serrano. Hearn told Paul he would never be a world champion boxer.
When it comes to Paul’s chances against Anderson Silva, Hearn judges by a different scale.
“I don’t know enough about Anderson Silva – Anderson is , but he can box a bit by the sound of things,” Hearn said of the Oct. 29 boxing match on The MMA Hour. “I just think that Jake’s been a bit unlucky, because he was trying to fight Tommy Fury, he was trying to fight Hasim Rahman Jr., and that would have actually given him the ability to say, ‘Actually, you have to respect me now as a boxer.
“To defeat Anderson Silva, while boxing is still a very impressive part of his repertoire, he’s still not a boxer, and he’s 47 years of age. But he’s a tough guy, he has a huge profile, he can box, and I think he’ll be competitive. I don’t think he beats Jake, because I think Jake is young, and I think he can punch a bit, and I’m intrigued to watch, and I like what Jake’s doing. It’s kind of him against the world.”
From the start of his boxing career, respect has been elusive for Paul. A series of fights against influencers and former MMA champs did a lot to raise his profile, but victories over the likes of Ben Askren and Tyron Woodley brought far more respect from the MMA world than that of boxing. Even in the MMA world, Paul’s level of opposition – against fighters well past their prime – was criticized.
Silva, as it turns out, was one of the fights most in the MMA world believed would elevate Paul’s esteem in the boxing world. None other than UFC President Dana White dismissed the influencer’s opposition and pointed to Silva as a true test for the young upstart. Three-time UFC title challenger – and Paul vs. Silva press conference host – Chael Sonnen credited White as part of the inspiration for making the matchup happen. So eager was Paul to prove the UFC exec wrong, he signed on to his toughest fight yet.
In the boxing world, the bar is a little higher, and the obstacles more significant.
“No one’s trying to do him any favors in boxing,” Hearn said. “It’s not ‘YouTube boxing’ any more, as far as I’m concerned. ... Good luck to Jake. I would like to see him come through after this to actually fight some boxers, because I think he can beat some boxers, and his credibility would definitely rise in the sport.”
Some is the operative word there, however. Hearn hasn’t changed his opinion on Paul’s ceiling in the squared circle.