Michael Rapaport still isn’t convinced that Jake Paul is a real boxer.
Paul may have seven pro fights, headlined five major boxing events on pay-per-view, and may have garnered over 500,000 pay-per-view buys on multiple occasions, including his recent outing against Tommy Fury. But he lacks real legitimacy, according to the comedian and star of such films as “Higher Learning” and “Copland.”
“Why am I paying $49.99 to watch an amateur fight?” Rapaport said Wednesday on The MMA Hour.
Despite Paul’s split decision loss, Rapaport called Fury “a bum” and “not a championship-level fighter,” and indicated the fight should have been considered an exhibition.
“When he’s throwing these flailing hooks with his head down, that’s what you call not a boxer,” Rapaport said. “That’s a frat boy fighting punch. That’s not a boxer.
“It’s also sad to me that the majority of people, when you reference the last fight they watch, including myself, is Jake Paul vs. Tommy Fury. Because what it meant to be a middleweight champion, heavyweight champion back in the days is dilapidated, and that’s a — that’s a $10 word, dilapidated.”
Rapaport’s criticism is not unusual for longtime combat sports fans. The 52-year-old performer grew up watching championship boxing on ABC’s Wide World of Sports and reveres the heroes of the squared circle. That didn’t keep him from accepting the sport of MMA, as in the case of many boxing fans. But he shares the purist’s point of view in judging Paul’s abilities — at 6-1, the influencer turned pugilist simply hasn’t earned the right to headline anything.
“I know what it takes to be a champion, and I see him walking around with this belt,” Rapaport said. “When you see a boxer, whether it’s Tyson Fury, Mike Tyson, Sugar Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran, Hector Camacho. Jake LaMotta, Muhammad Ali, Earnie Shavers — when you see them ... [to see Paul] take a belt after they won a fight, and you see bruisers cry because of everything they went through — being cheated, every single workout, every single fight, every single hour in the gym — he’s cheating the system. He cut the f****** line.”
Paul, 26, carved out a lucrative niche in the combat sports world by taking on a series of aging MMA fighters. That’s where things got off to the wrong foot, according to Rapaport.
“Even I can last longer in the ring with Jake Paul than Ben Askren did,” he said. “I don’t give a f***, hips, no hips, I’ve got ulcerative colitis, I’ve got all sorts of got skin issues, and I don’t sleep well, and I would at least move around the ring.”
Hence, you can put Rapaport in the sizable camp of fans who openly questioned the legitimacy of Paul fights against Tyron Woodley and Anderson Silva. Despite no direct or indirect evidence of any fight fixing, the actor brought up the issue several times during his appearance.
Rapaport acknowledged that his criticism of Paul may be unfair given the level of experience “The Problem Child” brought to the ring along with his massive audience. The difference between Paul and other up-and-comers, he said, is in the advertisement.
“They’re not going around saying they’re so great,” Rapaport said.
Paul seeks a rematch with Fury in his next ring appearance; he dismissed a showdown with fellow influencer turned boxer KSI until he had righted the wrong of his first loss.
Rapaport joked that Paul’s next outing should keep in line with the absurdity of his career.
“Jake and Tommy on the undercard, and then we get the big boys Tyson Fury vs. Logan Paul,” he said. “Matter of fact, let Tyson Fury fight Jake and then fight Logan same night. That’s what, then — then you won’t hear a peep from me.”