(Reuters) – Love him or hate him, boxing fans had better get used to Jake Paul after the YouTuber-turned-prizefighter told Reuters he had no intention of ever walking away from the sport.
The 24-year-old, who has injected new life and plenty of controversy into boxing, said he relished every aspect of it – from training and fighting to the over-the-top, obscenity-filled news conferences.
With the launch of his fight promotion company Most Valuable Promotions, Paul has signalled that he plans to be a force inside and outside the ring for years to come.
“I want to change the sport forever,” Paul said in a video interview from his home in Puerto Rico, where he is training for his bout on Saturday against fellow American Tyron Woodley, 39.
“I want to make an impact, leave a footprint, and go down in the history books as someone who really helped this sport. I want to be talked about for years and years to come, and I want to have fun doing it.”
Paul also aspires to one day become a fight promoter at the level of greats like Bob Arum and Don King.
“I’ll always box, even if I’m not actually getting into the ring and fighting,” he said.
“I love it as a workout. I love taking the aggression out on the bag. I love watching it. I love going to the fights.
“So I’ll always be here helping in some way and continuing to grow the sport, whether I’m fighting or not.”
TUNING OUT CRITICS
Not everyone is thrilled about Paul’s meteoric rise in the sport.
Jake and brother Logan had already made millions off their viral videos when he took his first fight in 2018, and many were quick to point out that his white, upper-middle-class upbringing in Ohio clashes with boxing’s rags-to-riches ethos.
Paul (4-0) won over some sceptics after he knocked out former UFC fighter Ben Askren in April and beat former UFC welterweight champion Woodley by split decision in August.
Everyone else, he simply tunes out.
“There’s not a smart person on this planet who would sit there and say that Jake Paul is bad for boxing,” he said.
“This guy who’s bringing in millions of fans, he’s supporting women’s boxing, he has a foundation to get gloves into the hands of kids, he’s supporting amateurs, he’s renovating gyms in Puerto Rico and across the United States. That’s bad.
“You’d have to be pretty stupid to think that.”
Most Valuable Promotions, which Paul launched earlier this year with business partner Nakisa Bidarian, signed seven-division boxing champion Amanda Serrano in September with an eye towards boosting the Puerto Rican’s profile.
“Amanda Serrano was getting paid $40,000, $50,000 at most and she’s one of the greatest fighters ever. That’s crazy,” he said.
“She deserves to be a millionaire and to buy whatever she wants. What we’re doing with Most Valuable Promotions is taking people like her and giving them the spotlight they deserve.”
As for his own fighting future, Paul said he has been in talks with former UFC champion Conor McGregor’s camp about a possible boxing match next year.
“I think it would be one of the biggest pay-per-views ever, and I know I can win,” he said.
“It’s definitely on the horizon if all goes well for me and all goes well for him.”
Paul’s rematch against Woodley, who is filling in for the injured Briton Tommy Fury, is available on Showtime pay-per-view in the United States and globally on Fite.tv.
(Additional reporting by Phil O’Connor; Editing by Ken Ferris)