Jake Paul knows that his pro career will forever come with a healthy share of doubters.
Getting him to care will prove to be a greater challenge than any he believes he will ever face in the ring.
“I don’t give a f—,” Paul said of the ongoing criticism during a press conference, ironically to announce his toughest test date ahead of his upcoming fight with Anderson Silva. “I played them like a fiddle. I got them watching. I got them intrigued. Now they’re in my hip pocket.
“I’m winning at my own game and they’re all part of a major plan.”
Paul (5-0, 4KOs) has drawn a very different audience well before his January 2020 pro debut, coming at a time when YouTube personalities and content creators were beginning to infiltrate the sport. The boxing community has been slow to warm up to his efforts, though he has oddly drawn more attention—negative or otherwise—from MMA fans and even its athletes. Many from that world will remain engaged leading into his next fight, when he faces Brazil’s Silva atop an October 29 Showtime Pay-Per-View from Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona.
Even at age 47, Silva enters the fight as a slight betting favorite. He represents the most accomplished athlete that Paul has faced to date, boasting the longest championship reign in UFC history and who is also 3-1 as a pro boxer. Silva’s biggest boxing win to date was a major upset, outpointing former middleweight titlist Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. last June in Guadalajara, Mexico.
The fight marks the first time that Paul will face an opponent with pro boxing experience against anyone other than himself. Paul turned pro against fellow influencer Aneson Gib, whom he knocked out inside of one round. He then flattened former NBA star Nate Robinson in the second round of their November 2020 clash, followed by an early knockout of former mixed martial artist Ben Askren last April and a split decision win over former UFC welterweight champ Tyron Woodley last August.
All four had never previously boxed before facing Paul. That trend technically ended when Paul faced Woodley for a second time last December, the unlikely rematch coming to surface after Woodley replaced an injured Tommy Fury (8-0, 4KOs). Efforts to reschedule with Fury earlier this summer proved futile, due to the unbeaten Brit not being permitted to travel to the U.S. in time—or at all—for their planned August 6 Showtime PPV main event at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Paul managed to find a replacement opponent in Hasim Rahman Jr. (12-1, 6KOs), though the fight never came to surface.
The two were due to meet at the 200-pound cruiserweight limit—the first time Paul was due to fight any heavier than 193 pounds, and the second-generation Rahman any lighter than 211 pounds. The fight fell apart once it was learned that Rahman was unable to get down that far in weight, nor would even agree to a New York State Athletic Commission-mandated modified weight of 205 pounds.
It left Paul to search for a new opponent and date, landing on a fighter many speculated he would never face. Silva’s name was brought up by fans after Paul needed to replace the injured Fury last December, to the point of drawing criticism when he instead agreed to rematch Woodley. He moved full steam ahead with the fight this time around, though well aware that it still won’t satisfy those who will always find fault with his career.
“I’m here because my other opponents were assh-les,” noted Paul of Fury and Rahman. ““I have an opponent who is a real professional who will make weight and I won’t have to worry about doing a whole training camp [without fighting].”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox