Jake Paul isn’t losing sleep at night over the critics who question his commitment to combat sports, but he has an odd way of proving his dedication.
At just 24 years old, Paul is preparing for only his third professional fight this weekend against retired UFC fighter Ben Askren. But he claims the damage done to his body and brain are already quite significant.
“It’s a dangerous sport,” Paul said about boxing during the Triller media day on Thursday. “That’s why when people question my dedication to it, I’m showing up every single day, I’m putting my mental health on the line, my brain is on the line. I’ve gone and gotten brain scans and have early signs of CTE but I love this sport and I wouldn’t trade it for anything else.
“I’m a fighter and people will see that. Whether it’s after Saturday night or a year from now, they will see that I’m a fighter.”
Chronic traumatic encephalopathy — more commonly known as CTE —is a term used to describe “brain degeneration likely caused by repeated head trauma” and there are no known ways to detect CTE in a living patient. The only way to truly diagnose CTE is through “deposits of tau and other proteins in the brain that can be seen only upon inspection after death” during an autopsy.
Currently, doctors are only able to suspect CTE in patients who are at a higher risk due to repeated incidents of head trauma over several years after competing in contact sports like boxing or football.
Paul backed down from his CTE comments Friday morning.
Regardless, Paul believes that just shows how much passion he’s showing toward his new career in boxing, although he isn’t rattled by those who question his commitment to the sport.
“I use it all as gasoline in the gas tank to work harder every single day,” Paul said. “I know that going into this fight and I know that for the past three fights I’ve had everyone wants to see Jake Paul lose. That’s why I work so hard every single day and surround myself with the best team and take this so seriously. Because this fight means everything.
“Losing is not an option, quite literally. It just isn’t an option in my head. It’s not going to happen. I’ve put in the work and that’s why I’m confident in my ability and confident I will come out on top.”
His showdown with Askren will be the first time Paul has faced anybody with legitimate fight experience after taking on a fellow YouTuber in his debut bout and then dispatching ex-NBA player Nate Robinson last year.
A win on Saturday night would move Paul to 3-0 in his career, but he doesn’t expect that will be nearly enough to silence the doubters.
“It doesn’t matter to me but I think people are going to make a ton of excuses for him afterwards, which is great,” Paul said. “Just like again, I bring up Floyd [Mayweather] but Floyd’s 50-0 and people still debate why he shouldn’t be 50-0 and the judges, he shouldn’t have won this fight, he shouldn’t have won that fight, he picked the easy fight here. So people are always going to have excuses. It’s part of the game.
“But again that’s why they’re going to tune into the next pay-per-view after I [fight] Ben to try and see me lose. It doesn’t really matter to me at all and yes, Ben is the first professional fighter I’ve faced in a real fight. But I’ve sparred against 250 guys in the gym who are a lot better than Ben.”
To hear him tell it, Paul already considers himself a serious threat to anybody in the sport of boxing, even if no one believes him yet.
“I see myself as an elite fighter right now,” Paul said. “A young prospect with a lot of motivation and a lot of hunger. I think people see me as a sh*tty amateur. There’s sort of a big difference and there’s a big gap between where I’m actually at and what the general audience will think.
“But I’m excited again to show my ability on Saturday against Ben, who is a world class fighter.”
If all goes well and he’s able to beat Askren this weekend, Paul isn’t ready to say just yet what will be next for him but he expects the future to be bright no matter who he faces.
He may not be calling out world champions but Paul knows whoever he fights will bring a big crowd and end up as a profitable even for the promoter, his opponent and himself.
“I want to continue to challenge myself with my opponents and continue to build up my level of competition and make history with historic events and break pay-per-view records and fight big, big names,” Paul said. “Just have fun.
“This is such a fun sport. This is such a fun time and these events are so cool and I just want to bring more eyes in general.”
If you’re not a fan of Paul or just want to watch him fall flat on his face, he’s OK with that as well — so long as you’re willing to put up the money to buy his pay-per-view.
“Tune in and see if I am [ready] or not,” Paul said. “Find out for yourself. TrillerFightClub.com, order that pay-per-view because if you’re not watching, you’re the one missing out and look I’ve dedicated the last 18 months of my life to this and we’ve been in a serious training camp, sparring world champions. So you’re going to see if I’m ready or not.”