Monday, January 30, 2023  |



Jake Paul shows fear when it comes to facing Hasim Rahman Jr.

Jake Paul after stopping his first opponent, Ali Eson Gib.

Jake Paul is far from dumb. The former Dirk Mann character on the Disney Channel series Bizaardvark, YouTube influencer, seashell collector and expert manipulator has made millions convincing myopic fans that his venture as a legitimate professional boxer is a true pursuit, though he’s yet to fight a legitimate professional boxer.

That ends August 6 at Madison Square Garden when the undefeated Paul (5-0, 4 knockouts) takes on southpaw Hasim Rahman Jr. (12-1, 6 KOs) in a scheduled eight-round cruiserweight fight on Showtime Pay-Per-View.

Paul and Rahman Jr., the son of former heavyweight world champion Hasim Rahman, held their kickoff press conference on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden. It was an R-rated Romper Room, featuring people yelling over each another, with Paul playing the ingenious maestro setting the tone.

To his credit, Rahman Jr. did not bite down too hard on the verbal baiting.

In fact, if anything, he seemed to stir a bit of trepidation in Paul, who was originally supposed to fight Tommy Fury, the brother of heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, but pulled out of the fight due to visa issues entering the United States. It was announced on July 7th that Rahman Jr. would replace Fury.

Paul mentioned about a sparring session the two once had, where Rahman Jr. was told not to fight southpaw. Paul and Rahman Jr. played their roles well, with Paul playing the heel and Rahman Jr. as the straight guy.

“I’m here to end this façade he’s calling a career,” said Rahman Jr., who had a distinguished amateur past. “We’re going to see August 6th when Jake Paul falls.”

Even Rahman Sr., seated next to Hasim Jr., chimed in, saying about Paul, “Jake is a real fighter, and we respect him, but I just think he’s moving too quick. He picked the wrong guy at the wrong time.” To which Paul replied, “moving too quick for your slow-assed son, who’s not going to be able to hit me.” Rahman Sr. admonished Paul about the “Ric Flair, WWE stuff. When we get in the ring …”

“Flat out, I’ll give you an honest answer, that I don’t know if my son will like or not, my son has underperformed and under prepared for pretty much all of his fights. So, he’ll be ready for this one.”–Hasim Rahman Sr.

Paul interjected, “You’re not in the ring, sir, your son is in the ring. He can’t fight for you. You’re not in the ring. It’s me versus your son. That’s what he doesn’t understand, either. He thinks he’s you. That’s his biggest mistake. I’m ending that whole family legacy on August 6.”

Rahman Jr. and Paul played it well.

“But you haven’t fought nobody,” Rahman Jr. kept repeating, calling Paul, “Disney boy.”

There was one poignant moment when Rahman Sr. admitted to a question, “Flat out, I’ll give you an honest answer, that I don’t know if my son will like or not, my son has underperformed and under prepared for pretty much all of his fights. So, he’ll be ready for this one.”

Paul had some fun with the admission, spouting in a satirical tone mocking Rahman Jr., “Dad, why did you say that at the press conference, dad!”

Rahman Jr. admitted his father was right. He also admitted he hears his father say those very words every day.

It was fun.

But the Jake Paul act seems to be wearing thin. This is the first pro fighter, who’s coming off his first career loss, he’s going to face and the energy he exhibited in previous faux schtick pressers was waning. Paul certainly did not try to get physical with Rahman Jr. as he threatened to do against a YouTuber, former NBA player and two faded MMA fighters.

Was it because Jake Paul may know what’s coming? Did the YouTuber and seashell collector finally bite off more than he can chew against a club-level heavyweight who’s going to be sucking down to 200 pounds with a rehydration clause?

Maybe Jake Paul’s boxing kayfabe ends here.

But for the time being, Paul the great carny continues to gloriously win.

The 643 words previously written above is proof about a fight with no significance.

A week later marks the return of our regularly scheduled programming, with former lightweight world champion Teofimo Lopez Jr. coming back.

Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter who has been working for Ring Magazine/ since October 1997 and is the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be followed on twitter @JSantoliquito.


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