Jake Paul’s second act starts with a KO: ‘I’m taking the traditional boxing route’

  • Mike Coppinger, ESPNDec 15, 2023, 11:49 PM ET

Jake Paul started off his boxing career with a first-round TKO victory over a fellow YouTuber in January 2020. Few would have believed that nearly four years later, he would still be fighting and taking it more seriously than ever before.

With a right uppercut that produced a first-round, highlight-reel KO of Andre August on Friday evening in Orlando, Fla., Paul kicked off Act 2 of his boxing career. August (10-2-1, 5 KOs) was Paul’s most-experienced opponent yet, but he was picked to be a KO victim all the same. It was just August’s second fight in four years.

That’s not a criticism of Paul, but a reality for genuine boxing prospects looking to establish themselves as title contenders.

“Just about experience and scale and growing as a fighter, and there’s less hype, less shenanigans, virtually no s— talk,” Paul, 26, told ESPN in late November. “I’m just going in there to be a young boxing prospect who has aspirations to be a world champion and fighting guys that have this experience level and getting the experience under the lights and staying fresh, working in camp more often.

“This is the journey I’m on now, and I think before it’s been about business or MMA guys, big names, but now I’m taking the traditional boxing route.”

There aren’t many in the boxing industry who believe Paul (8-1, 5 KOs) can challenge for a title, much less win one, but that doesn’t matter. Paul believes he can, and he’s backing up his words with work in the gym that’s led to an improved fighter in the ring.

He’s shown the sport of boxing respect, and it’s led to just that from fellow fighters, both active and retired. The novelty of Paul knocking out former UFC stars wore off, and Paul clearly recognized that.

“The Problem Child” is looking for something far more substantial, and that’s title contention. He knows it won’t come easy or quickly. But it’s not out of the realm of possibility in a sport that features four titles per weight class and sometimes more. Money talks and Paul remains an attraction.

He’s not asking for a shortcut, either.

“The first phase was fun, craziness, pay-per-view, entertaining drama,” said Paul. “And this phase is just the road to world champion and getting that experience under my belt, the 10,000 hours and really becoming the best boxer I could possibly become in the shortest amount of time.

” … I think the best part is seeing people’s respect for me grow and grow and grow. Because obviously coming in I said I’m gonna be in this game for a long time. This is my destiny. This is what I love. I’m gonna change the game. I’m gonna be world champion.”

Whether he reaches his lofty goal or not, Paul’s win on Friday was another step forward, the same path many champions have traveled before him.