By: NYT |
July 10, 2022 11:54:37 am
Jake Paul, left, knocks out Tyro Woodley during the sixth round of a Cruiserweight fight. (AP Photo)
By Kris Rhim,
Jake Paul will get a chance next month to prove he’s not a boxing dilettante.
Paul will take on Hasim Rahman Jr., a son of the former heavyweight champion Hasim Rahman, on Aug. 6 at Madison Square Garden in New York. Rahman, who holds a 12-1 record as a professional, was a late addition to the bout after Paul’s scheduled fight with Tommy Fury was canceled because Fury was denied entry to the United States.
Paul, 25, gained fame as a social media star but has shifted his career toward professional boxing. He has cruised to a 5-0 record, but many in the boxing world view him as a pretender because he has never fought anyone with professional-boxing experience. (His opponents have included mixed martial artists, a YouTuber and former NBA player Nate Robinson.) He has drawn controversy with pranks and stunts throughout his career and has been accused of sexual misconduct by other social media influencers; he has denied the allegations.
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Paul’s boxing career exists largely because of his celebrity, and he has signed deals with Triller and Showtime Sports to televise and promote his fights. His scheduled fight with Fury, who is 8-0 as a professional, was supposed to help Paul validate himself as a boxer. But he still has that opportunity against Rahman, who is considered an even tougher foe.
They will fight in the cruiserweight division, meaning both fighters will need to be under 200 pounds. Rahman has previously fought as a heavyweight.
After the bout with Rahman was announced last week, Paul talked with The New York Times about his boxing aspirations, his other passions and his candy choices before fights.
This conversation has been condensed and edited for a family newspaper.
Q: You posted a video of yourself and Hasim Rahman Jr. sparring before, and you were arguing pretty intensely. So are you not friends?
A: Definitely not. After our sparring session, he was saying, “You’ll never go far in this sport. You’re a YouTuber. You’re not going to do anything. I’m going to beat you,” blah, blah, blah, calling me all types of names. And so ever since that day, I’ve wanted this fight, and I’ve been waiting. I’ve been waiting to take his head off.
Q: So, to be clear, this isn’t a friend who is doing you a favor. You actually don’t like each other?
A: Yeah. And that’s what’s needed for me to fight someone. You know, I don’t want a fight to be all sweet and nice. That’s just boring. You know? I like to fight against someone who has actually disrespected me. So, it means something when I knock them out.
Q: How long ago was that sparring session?
A: Two years ago.
Q: Did you feel as if you had the upper hand?
A: Man, it was close. It could have gone either way. And so that’s why my manager is like, “Well, if it was a close sparring session, why do you want to take this fight?” And the answer is, in the past two years, I believe that I’ve become a better fighter than what he’s become in the past two years. I believe I’ve worked harder in the past two years. I believe I’ve been more dedicated in the past two years. So, I know I can go in there and knock him out this time.
Q: What have you seen that makes you believe that?
A: I haven’t seen much from him. I don’t care about my opponents. I know what I’m capable of and the dedication that I put in on a daily basis in the gym, and I know it’s unmatched. I know how hard I go. There’s no possible way someone could work as hard as me. The recovery, the diet, the stretching, the yoga, the meditation, the strength and conditioning, the sparring, the rounds, all of it just adds up, and I do every single thing right to the maximum possible level.
Q: And where do you train?
A: I train in Puerto Rico.
Q: Is your diet different when preparing for fights?
A: I mean, it’s pretty straightforward, but I even got my own chickens here so that I can have fresh eggs every day. I’m eating raw liver, raw bone marrow. And then, salmon, steak, chicken, all of that typical stuff. But I eat very clean and lean. And then, occasionally, I eat some candy as fuel. It just makes me go crazy! I have the best practices when I eat candy before.
Q: What kind of candy do you eat before practice, and does it actually improve your performance in workouts?
A: Yeah, because it has all the glucose in it and the muscles and stuff burn the sugar and the glucose. So I’m eating, like, Nerds Gummy Clusters, SweeTarts ropes, Sour Patch Kids. Those are some of my favorite.
Q: Is that before every practice?
A: Before sparring.
Q: So will you eat Nerds ahead of the fight with Hasim? Have you eaten Nerds or any other candy before your previous fights?
A: Probably, yeah. Some of the fights I have. And those are the fights where I felt better. It just depends on how I’m feeling, though. If my stomach feels ready for it, then I’ll eat it.
Q: Would you ever consider revisiting a fight with Tommy?
A: If they want to pay me a bunch of money to go over to the U.K., you know, they could pay me my rate. I’ll be more than happy to show up there, but I’m tired of me putting on the event using my money to pay everyone and then him backing out. It’s just annoying.
Q: Is there added excitement for this fight? It is the first chance you have to show people that you can beat someone with professional boxing experience.
A: Yeah, exactly. And that’s been the biggest criticism. “Fight a real boxer, fight a real boxer. Fight someone who’s around your age. Fight someone your weight.” OK, I’m doing all of that now. He’s 12-1, comes from a legendary bloodline, is a heavyweight, so he’s actually bigger and taller than me. And I’m going to go out there and show the world that I’m a professional boxer. And I’m not just a YouTuber. I’m a YouTuber, a professional boxer, a TikToker, a former landscaper and a multiplatinum recording producer. I also collect seashells, so when people hate on me, bro, they don’t realize that they’re not only getting knocked out by a YouTuber — they’re also getting knocked out by a seashell collector.
Q: When did this passion for seashell collecting begin?
A: More recently, over the past year, just living in Puerto Rico. The beaches here are lovely, and I just go and pick out my favorite seashells.
Q: How vast is that collection?
A: I got about 100 seashells.
Q: Your brother, Logan, signed a contract with the WWE. Have you ever considered doing something like that?
A: Yes and no. I went to the WWE event. They had me there as a guest. But for now, I’m just focused so much on boxing, and I wouldn’t want to be flying off the top rope and get injured and then never be able to box again.
Q: What are your goals in boxing? If you could look ahead five years from now, what would you hope that Jake Paul has accomplished?
A: Yeah, man, just creating massive historic fights and fighting the best people in the world. And changing the model in which fights are promoted and which fights are made. Showing the next generation of fight fans what it’s like to be a savage and to go in there and knock people out. Really, eventually I want to become the light heavyweight champion of the world. Just to say I did it. Just to say the seashell collector became the light heavyweight champion of the world would be hilarious.
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