How controversial YouTuber Jake Paul became a must-watch boxer

Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
  • YouTuber Jake Paul followed in his brother Logan’s footsteps in entering the boxing ring.
  • Paul, 23, is one of several YouTubers whose boxing matches have earned big bucks.
  • The controversial creator has won two professional matches, and told Insider in an interview that he loves boxing. “I see a huge future for me in this sport,” he said.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Jake Paul, 23, is one of the buzziest and most controversial YouTube stars.

Paul has more than 20 million subscribers on YouTube, where his controversial career has involved a fake marriage to creator Tana Mongeau and an FBI raid of his Calabasas home.

Now, the creator, who has also been an actor on Disney Channel and got his start on Vine, has shifted his focus from diss tracks and controversy to professional boxing. And if his knockout against former NBA player Nate Robinson on Saturday was any indication, Paul appears to be making a name for himself as a boxer.

“I’m not fighting to make money,” he told Insider’s combat sports correspondent Alan Dawson in a recent interview. “I’m fighting because I want to and I love it.”

Paul’s knockout of Robinson, a former NBA player, was his second professional match and win, after he defeated YouTuber AnEsonGib, who is known as Gib, in January of this year.

Saturday’s match was livestreamed on Triller, the would-be competitor to TikTok, for a pay-per-view fee of $US49.99, which covered Paul and Robinson’s fight, as well as the event’s main fight between Mike Tyson vs. Roy Jones Jr.

“I wake up every day with fire in my belly,” Paul told Insider. “That’s just where the passion, hard work, and dedication comes from.” Paul said that the “entertainment in LA is great,” pointing to his other opportunities with YouTube, acting, and music, but said “boxing just sits differently with me.”

Here’s how the YouTuber and actor became a professional boxer.

Paul is one of many YouTubers to make the pivot to boxing

Logan Paul (red/white/blue shorts) and KSI (black/red shorts) exchange punches their pro debut cruiserweight fight at Staples Centre on November 9, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. KSI won by decision.Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty ImagesLogan Paul and KSI exchange punches in their pro debut cruiserweight fight at Staples Centre on November 9, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. KSI won by decision.

Paul is one of several YouTube creators to pivot to boxing. British YouTubers Olajide “JJ” Olatunji, who is known as KSI, and Joe Weller, faced off in an amateur boxing match in London in February 2018. KSI won the fight, and called out Logan Paul for his next fight.

YouTube boxing matches have drawn huge interest and massive viewership. KSI and Weller’s original 2018 fight drew more than one million live viewers, according to Polygon.

Even Tyson, the former heavyweight world champion, said that the boxing industry owes YouTube boxers like Paul “respect” for keeping “boxing alive.” At a press conference after his own exhibition against Jones Jr., which was the main event of the day’s matchups at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles, Tyson called Paul a “God-gifted YouTube boxer.”

Tyson added at the press conference that “the more anyone boxes, the better it is.”

“Now we got these YouTubers, 20 million subscribers? Boxing is coming back thanks to these YouTube boxers,” Tyson said.

Jake Paul started boxing in 2018, following in his older brother Logan’s footsteps

Jake paul logan paul harry styles vogueMichael Reaves/Getty ImagesJake Paul celebrates with his brother, Logan, after defeating AnEsonGib in a first round knockout during their fight at Meridian at Island Gardens on January 30, 2020 in Miami, Florida.

Jake Paul began his amateur boxing career in the fall of 2018 when his brother, Logan, 25, headlined a match against KSI, following KSI’s win against Weller. KSI’s younger brother, Deji Olatunji, and Jake fought at the same event, selling out the Manchester Arena in England. More than one million viewers paid around $US10 to stream the matches live on on YouTube, The New York Times reported.

Jake then made his professional boxing debut with his fight against Gib, who has 2 million YouTube subscribers, in Miami in January. Jake won the match, a co-feature of a fight between professional boxers Demetrius Andrade and Luke Keeler, in the first round.

“KSI is next,” Jake told reporters after the fight.

In the months between the fight against Gib and Saturday’s win against Robinson, the younger Paul stayed in the spotlight through numerous controversies. Authorities said he looted an Arizona mall for a video, which reportedly led to an FBI raid on his home in Calabasas. He was also criticised by the mayor of Calabasas for hosting parties during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The YouTuber also drew ire for comments made in an interview with Insider’s Kat Tenbarge in July, in which he said he wasn’t sure if he would stop partying during the pandemic.

The YouTuber told Insider he sees ‘a huge future for me in this sport’

In his recent interview with Dawson for Insider, Jake said he had to take a break from partying to push himself to train for his match against Robinson.

“I really have to push myself outside of my comfort zone to do those sprints, to wake up on a Saturday morning when all my friends are in Los Angeles, out at the clubs, making music, having fun, and I’m up early, isolated, running sprints, and nearly puking.”

The boxer has now verbally challenged UFC champion Conor McGregor, telling Insider that he thinks it would be “pretty entertaining” to take the champion down. “I’m bigger than Conor, I weigh more than Conor, and he’s out of his prime, sort of washed-up,” he said.

Whether or not McGregor takes him up on that, Jake said boxing is something he sees more of in his future. “I just love it,” he told Insider. “I see a huge future for me in this sport.”

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