Jake Paul’s critics will moan, and note that the You Tube sensation turned
boxing prodigy pro boxer is again taking the easy way out. He’s facing Anderson Silva — 47-year-old man — on Oct. 29 at Gila River Arena in Phoenix, Arizona in the main event of a Showtime Pay-Per-View card. That 47-year-old man only has four boxing matches, they’ll moan.
His supporters will point out that 47-year-old is arguably the greatest fighter in UFC history and that he is, by far, the toughest test of Paul’s fledgling boxing career.
Showtime made the Silva-Paul bout official on Tuesday.
It should be pointed out that both points of view are correct. Since he turned professional on Jan. 30, 2020, Paul has fought: AnEsonGib, a social media influencer; Nate Robinson, a former NBA player; Ben Askren and Tyron Woodley (twice with Woodley), ex-MMA fighters; and now Silva. MMA and boxing are similar sports but not the same, and both Askren and Woodley had wrestling as their base in MMA.
Yes, Silva is 47 and yes, his win over ex-middleweight champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. is hardly something to brag about. Chavez battled drug and alcohol issues throughout his career and by the point he fought Silva, he was no longer interested in fighting, barely trained and was spotted throughout his camp partying.
Silva’s boxing debut came on May 22, 1998, when Paul was 16 months old. He didn’t box again until 2005 and then not again until 2021 after he’d finished his MMA career.
But even at 47, Silva is a vastly superior striker to both Askren and Woodley (and, it goes without saying, to Robinson and AnEsonGib). He’ll be by orders of magnitude the finest fighter that Paul has faced.
Paul is still a developing boxer, and if he didn’t have a widely recognizable name, he’d either not be boxing at all or would be facing boxers the world has and never will have heard of.
His name is big enough, though, to sell tickets and pay-per-views, though he seems much more popular in the MMA space than he does in the boxing community.
A bout with a 47-year-old Silva is a fairly matched fight, though a bout with a 37-year-old Silva would have been a gross mismatch.
The only bad thing here is that Paul is treading on Silva’s name and stellar reputation to boost his own reputation, and Silva may be at a point in his career where he’s not able to do anything about it.
What the success of these boxer-versus-MMA fighter shows prove — and there’s a wide range from amazingly good to very poor — is the gullibility of the public. I remain amazed five years later that there were more than a handful of people who figured Conor McGregor had a chance to defeat Floyd Mayweather. He didn’t, and the fact that McGregor won a couple of rounds was simply due to Mayweather playing and carrying McGregor to build up drama before he got to work.
Yet, even despite that outcome, there are plenty who still believe an MMA fighter would have a chance in a boxing match against a similarly situated boxer. An MMA fighter would beat a boxer easily — and every time — if they fought MMA instead of boxing. But when they box, the boxer is going to win going away.
The only difference is in a case like this, where Silva is 22 years older than Paul, clearly years past his prime and not really a boxer.
If Silva wins, it says a lot more about Paul than it does Silva. And if Paul wins, well, given Silva’s age and recent track record, it doesn’t prove anything other than that Silva was well beyond his sell-by date. Silva, remember, was 1-7 with a no-contest over the last seven years of his UFC career. He was hardly the guy who dominated the sport for nearly 2,500 days.
Paul, though, is a master salesman and none of that matters to him.
“Anderson ‘The Spider’ Silva is the most versatile fighter the world has ever seen,” Paul said in a statement. “Just a year ago, he outclassed boxing champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., and showed the world why he is often referred to as the greatest fighter of all time. Every expert, from MMA to boxing, has said Jake Paul won’t fight Anderson Silva. They said Jake Paul is afraid of Anderson Silva, and Jake Paul would lose to Anderson Silva.
“Well, to all the non-believers — Jake Paul is fighting Anderson Silva. It’s an honor to have the opportunity to share the ring with the greatest UFC striker of all-time. On Saturday, October 29, I will walk humbly into the ring, touch gloves with a living legend and do my best to exterminate ‘The Spider.’”
Of course, Chavez was hardly a “boxing champion” when Silva defeated him. It had been more than nine years since he was a champion on the night he fought Silva, but hey, Paul is a salesman and he has PPVs to sell.
The result will come down to Silva’s legs. If he’s got his legs under him, he’ll win the fight. If he doesn’t, Paul will probably take him by decision.
Either way, the result will prove very little. But it will do business and those who criticize it should remember that fact. The fight game is a business, and at the end of the day, that’s really all that matters.