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Jake Paul and Floyd flounder as celebrity boxing dies
Plus, Matias and Ponce engage in the real fight of the weekend
One of the most interesting elements of Jake Paul’s rise to prominence is that we weren’t sure just how good he was at boxing. For every right hand landed on a hapless opponent, often dragged across from a different discipline, Paul’s true level of ability was hard to ascertain.
After eight rounds of chasing, clinching, ducking and repeatedly failing to land anything of note, it was clear that Tommy Fury was a level above. Even a last round knockdown (caused by a jab but entirely legitimate) could not save the Ohio man’s blushes. While he’d likely struggle to make a mark at Area level, fledgling Fury was the closest thing to a “real boxer” that Paul has ever faced and we all saw the outcome.
Photo credit: Radio Times
If Paul cannot improve enough to produce something more nuanced then he must immediately relinquish any ideas of challenging good quality fighters. It’s not clear what his team were doing in training camp but the former college wrestler was unable to implement any form of effective strategy. He’ll have to go back to beating up faded MMA or UFC fighters to get his kicks. Providing his niche fanbase will still pay premium prices to watch.
As ‘The Problem Child’s’ venture came to an abrupt halt, 24 hours earlier Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather went through the million dollar motions in front of two men and their dogs. The details of these types of contests are largely irrelevant. There is one key takeaway from a weekend riddled with boxing cosplay: celebrity pugilism is on life support and one of these misfits needs to pull the plug.
Throughout Jake Paul’s rise to becoming a renowned boxing personality, one of the ongoing questions has been, what will he do whenever he loses? The time has come to find out whether his dalliance with the noble art is a fleeting flirtation or a long-term relationship.
Despite a reluctance to truly commit, his return bout will likely be a rematch with Fury in the UK. On Sunday, the final round knockdown and split decision card in his favour kept a rematch credible, even though it appeared for the most part that Jake had been outboxed by Fury.
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Rather than fixating on the demise of the sport’s rogue element, the location of Paul-Fury offers a more subtle indication of how boxing might shape up in the future. Digging for gold in the luxurious deserts of the Middle East is not a new thing.
Over the past few years we have seen events of all description being held in Dubai or Saudi Arabia. Anthony Joshua headlined first in Diriyah and then Jeddah against Andy Ruiz and Oleksandr Usyk respectively. Dmitry Bivol defeated Gilberto Ramirez in Abu Dhabi late last year.
The Saudis could become instant hardcore heroes if they sportswash a portion of boxing’s dirty laundry through their billion dollar machine and we get Joshua-Fury, Beterbiev-Bivol or even Spence-Crawford gleaming out the other side.
Boxing Asylum: The podcast panel had their say on the big fight night
Apparently the Paul-Fury fight was moved to Sunday so as not to clash with Mayweather’s venture into the UK market. They needn’t have worried. Hardly anybody turned up on the night to watch the former pound-for-pound king satisfy his relentless urge to stay in the limelight by facing reality TV “star” Aaron Chalmers. Even fewer tuned in…once they eventually worked out who was broadcasting it.
Just turned 46, Floyd still looks in solid shape and could probably give most current champions a run for their money. However, his worldwide tour of meaningless exhibitions is rapidly losing steam. Chalmers was at least better than some of the other no-hopers Floyd had beaten up in the past.
From Japanese arenas to the O2, via Dubai helipads, Mayweather loves the money so much he is happy to stain his legacy with this nonsense. Somebody clearly lost a financial fortune on Saturday night, but it surely wasn’t him.
SUBRIEL MATIAS CROWNED AS BOXING’S LATEST DESTROYER
In the pick of the weekend’s real boxing, Subriel Matias and Jeremias Ponce ripped into each other for five rounds of malintent before Matias extinguished his co-challenger with surprising quickness. While it didn’t recapture the twists and turns of last week’s Lara KO of Wood or Nery barnburner it did provide welcome relief from the antics of the alternative circus acts.
Ponce is clearly an on-top, come forward fighter who thrives on setting a pace and dominating opponents. It was unlikely he would be able to sustain such an aggressive early output and gradually Subriel Matias started matching him punch-for-punch. Ramping up his familiar combinations as the minutes passed by, Matias was ominously finishing on the left hook time and again.
Level on the cards and with the fight still very much in the balance after four frames, the finish was brutal and the ending swift. You could even say it was anticlimactic. Dropped late in the fifth the Argentine bounced up, grinned and went back to his corner, seemingly to regroup.
Ponce’s father and trainer had different ideas. He felt that his son had taken enough punishment to the head and instructed referee Mark Nelson to terminate the bout while throwing in the most familiar of boxing quit phrases: “No mas”.
A mean product of the Puerto Rican streets, Matias, 30, improved to 19-1, all 19 wins by thudding KO. His sole loss came in 2020 to Petros Ananyan. It was a close fight that took place barely eight months after the tragic bout with Maxim Dadashev that ended in the Russian’s death.
Both the Ananyan loss (since avenged) and any mental repercussions of the Dadashev incident are firmly behind Matias who picked up the vacant IBF super-lightweight title for beating Ponce. An extremely dangerous fighter, used to violent life, will be an absolute handful for champion or challenger alike.
Jake Paul’s MVP Promotions haven’t had the best of weeks. Not only did their kingpin suffer a first loss but it was revealed on Tuesday that Amanda Serrano had withdrawn from the proposed Katie Taylor rematch. Set for Dublin in May, it seems the long awaited Croke Park fight is cursed.
Photo credit: Max Boxing
The whole Conor Benn situation has predictably descended into farce. As soon as a high-profile fighter pops dirty the immediate reaction from his team is to circumvent, disrupt and contaminate the process with aggressive threats, vague scientific mumbo jumbo and pseudo religious language.
It’s all pretty simple. You take the test, the results come back with a minuscule chance of inaccuracy, you accept the verdict and move on. Chicken coop closed.
About Steve: Experienced boxing writer, author of 8 books and podcaster of over 400 eps. 15+ years in the sport. Covered hundreds of shows for newspapers and Boxing News magazine. Chief script writer for Motivedia channel.