YouTuber Jake Paul boasts a 2-0 record as a professional boxer, but he’ll have to up his game if he wants to keep that undefeated record intact when he takes on former UFC fighter Ben Askren this spring.
Triller co-founder Ryan Kavanaugh told ESPN on Tuesday that Paul will be fighting Askren in an eight-round professional boxing match on April 17 in the main event of a pay-per-view card.
First Professional Opponent for YouTube Star
Kavanaugh revealed few details about the event. He said that there will be multiple fights featuring names from the boxing world, MMA fighters, and social media personalities, which Triller will announce in the weeks to come.
The 24-year-old Paul began his professional boxing career in January 2020, when he beat fellow YouTuber AnEsonGib via first-round TKO. In November, Paul took on former NBA player Nate Robinson, outclassing the 36-year-old on his way to a second-round knockout.
Neither of those men had prior experience as a professional fighter. And while Askren may not be a boxer by trade, he has taken a punch and continued coming forward – something neither of Paul’s first two opponents seemed willing to do.
“I know Jake Paul is enjoying pretending he is a fighter,” Askren said, via ESPN. “I think on April 17, he is going to have a rude awakening to what being a fighter is really like.”
Askren, 36, compiled a 19-2 record in professional MMA. He ran his record to 19-0 before losing his final two fights in 2019: an infamous five-second knockout loss when Jorge Masvidal caught him with a flying knee, and a third-round submission by Demian Maia.
Askren relied heavily on his grappling skills throughout his career. He won two NCAA Division I National Championships as a collegiate wrestler, and was a member of the 2008 US Olympic Team. Askren also occasionally showed the ability to throw his hands, winning five of his MMA bouts by TKO due to punches.
Paul Opens as Early Favorite vs. Askren
Other combat sports professionals have warned Paul that fighting Askren will be a completely different experience than his first two bouts.
“A guy who can actually take a punch, see blood and not be afraid – that’s a real fighter,” former UFC champion Anthony Pettis told The Sun. “Ben can do that. Ben is one of those guys that can get hit and hit you back.”
Still, some sportsbooks have made Paul the favorite in this fight. BetOnline.ag opened Paul as the -180 pick over Askren (+150), likely because of Paul’s actual boxing experience and Askren’s less-than-impressive striking in his most recent UFC bout.
Jake Paul better not underestimate Ben Askren or its lights out from one of these: pic.twitter.com/uFXvWQdhvj
— MacMally? (@MacMallyMMA) December 22, 2020
Whatever the eventual outcome may be, Paul is expressing absolute confidence in himself for now.
“The world complained because I knocked out a basketball player and not a real fighter,” Paul said in the announcement. “So now I’m giving the people what they want by taking on a ‘real fighter.’ After Ben Askren is added to my knockout meme collection, what can anybody say?”