Past the sell-by date. Jumped the shark. Outlived its usefulness.
Myriad phrases exist to label situations where something has gone on for a little bit too long.
It can apply to relationships, television shows, jobs … or a million other things.
And these days, it feels like it’s happened to Jake Paul.
The social media juggernaut and undisputed champion of shoddy boxing events had another one scheduled for this weekend in New York City, where he and heavyweight title progeny Hasim Rahman Jr. were scheduled to go eight rounds atop a Showtime card that’d also include Amanda Serrano.
The main event was scuttled last weekend when Rahman’s latest pre-fight weight check – mandated by the New York State Athletic Commission because he’d taken the bout on short notice in place of Tommy Fury – came in at 215 pounds, exactly 15 north of the agreed-upon contract limit of 200.
The commission subsequently mandated a change to 205 pounds and Rahman upped the ante by calling for a 215-pound limit, a demand that prompted Team Paul to deflate the circus tent entirely.
He and Rahman have gone back and forth on social media since, lobbing their respective He Said/He Said grenades with the predictably fiery suggestions that the other principal was to blame.
The truth is surely in there somewhere. If anyone still cares to look for it.
Though Paul has provided an unmistakable jolt since his arrival 30 months ago, the vibe is that his novelty is beginning to wear off. His comical blowouts of a fellow YouTuber and a retired basketball player in 2020 were interesting enough, and his subsequent defeats in 2021 of a pair of formerly high-level MMA practitioners – Ben Askren once, Tyron Woodley twice – nudged the respect level higher.
But he’s since co-starred in a daytime drama that’s failed to get Fury into a ring – prompting the short-notice Woodley rematch last December before the summertime Rahman debacle this week – and has shown no real inclination to engage with a legitimate foe, despite his repeated boasts that he’ll take over the sport and intermittent suggestions from others that he possesses world-class potential.
Askren hadn’t won a fight of any sort in more than two years (and had been finished twice) before Paul dusted him in a single round in Atlanta, and Woodley was riding an 0-4 cage streak across nearly three years before pushing Paul to the split-decision limit four months later in a Cleveland ring.
The ex-UFC welterweight champion drew in for the pre-Christmas return after episode one of the Fury soap opera and he ended up face-down on the mat in Tampa on one of the year’s most memorable KOs – but only after the Amalie Arena crowd had endured five of the same year’s dullest rounds.
The fans were audibly unimpressed. The pay-per-view numbers were statistically down.
And this week’s MSG tease, which Rahman and those on his side are spinning as Paul simply finding an escape hatch when he knew he was in over his head, could deal the entire sideshow a fatal blow.
“Jake Paul could’ve fought a real boxer, but he don’t want to fight a real fighter,” Rahman said.
“He don’t want to fight a real fight. He wanted to drain me down and fight a shell of me, which I’m not going to allow him to do. Now, they didn’t move the goalposts and move the finish line closer and have me weigh in all these extra days early and then pull the plug on the fight like, ‘We don’t want to fight.’
“My team 100 percent still wanted to fight, still ready, willing, and able to knock out Jake Paul on Aug. 6. So y’all blame your boy Jake Paul for this fight not happening. It ain’t have nothin’ to do with me or my team. We let them know what the real reason was, and Jake Paul is scared to fight.”
Scared or not, it wasn’t as if Rahman was a heavyweight boogeyman anyway.
He’s earned exactly three of his 12 pro wins against opponents with better-than-.500 records – one at 26-21-3 (Raymond Ochieng), another at 5-3 (Curtis Head) and a third at 4-2-2 (Mario Rodriguez Juarez) – and is just 95 days removed from a TKO loss to James Morrison, the latest Oklahoma-based heavyweight to campaign as the son of another former title claimant, Tommy Morrison.
He greeted that loss by stomping his feet in the middle of the ring, putting his hands on referee Robert Hoyle, and flinging his mouthpiece into the crowd at the Virgin Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
So, while fighting and beating Fury would surely have moved the social media gullibility needle and handling Rahman would have been another score for name recognition, neither victory would have tangibly moved Paul beyond the trace levels of respect he’s gotten from the purists.
Doesn’t matter, says former HBO blow-by-blow man Jim Lampley.
“Shouldn’t be of interest to any large number of people on its merits,” he said, “but until proven otherwise social media messages have sufficient gravitas to warp enough perceptions to create profit.
“Fame is the only metric. And fame is computed in likes.”
Eventually, though, the attention spans of even his millennial fan base figure to be tested if the buzz they get from tuning in isn’t ramped up.
Though no one’s suggesting he engage Canelo Alvarez or Dmitry Bivol just to prove a point to old guys, it’s ultimately going to take something more than relatives of heavyweight belt-holders or beaten down octagonal rejects to keep paying customers engaged with a $60 price tag attached.
The bottom line is simple: If you want to keep playing the big rooms, you’ll need to prove yourself as something more than an opening act – to the fans, and to the power players at Showtime.
“A few of us have taken the challenge and of course you don’t hear from Jake Paul’s camp, except his barkers with excuses,” said ex-WBO welterweight champion Kermit Cintron, who’s gone public with a willingness to take Paul on. “I even offer to step up. I’m only 185 pounds and not in fight shape whatsoever. My thinking is that he thinks he has the upper hand on calling whatever, but that’s not the case. Showtime will not allow him to choose weak opposition. That’s my guess.”
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This week’s title-fight schedule:
No title fights scheduled.
Last week’s picks: None
2022 picks record: 22-10 (68.8 percent)
Overall picks record: 1,231-402 (75.4 percent)
NOTE: Fights previewed are only those involving a sanctioning body’s full-fledged title-holder – no interim, diamond, silver, etc. Fights for WBA “world championships” are only included if no “super champion” exists in the weight class.
Lyle Fitzsimmons has covered professional boxing since 1995 and written a weekly column for Boxing Scene since 2008. He is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter – @fitzbitz.