Jake Paul has a message for his doubters: "Everyone should be afraid of this Jake Paul kid coming into boxing. Because I don't have to do this. I'm choosing to do this. I love doing this. And I'm going to work my ass off to prove everyone wrong."
Not many boxers with a 2-0 record headline a major card in their third pro fight but then Jake Paul is not many boxers.
Since knocking out Deji Olatunji on the undercard of KSI vs Logan Paul – billed as "the biggest amateur boxing match in history" – the man with more than 20m YouTube subscribers has shown a genuine hunger to establish himself as a legitimate contender. [Read out interview with Logan Paul here.]
He's dedicated his life to the sport, turning professional and knocking out fellow YouTuber AnEsonGib followed by former basketball player Nate Robinson.
His upcoming fight with Ben Askren will be among the biggest events of the year.
It's an exciting time to be a boxer. The more innovation we can bring to this sport the better
Paul is doing boxing in a way nobody has done it before – which makes him the perfect person to open our new series on boxing innovators.
Speaking over Zoom, Paul discussed everything from the role of trash talk to the utilisation of social media. He is a fascinating character, more self-aware than his public person often suggests, and he has an undeniable love for the sport.
Check out some edited extracts below and have a listen for yourself. He won't care if you judge him. He just wants you to watch.
Listen to the interview
Jake Paul on boxers and social media
"At the end of the day, this is a business. It's a sport but it's a business. It really depends on what someone wants to do. If they want to be the greatest boxer of all time then they shouldn't care about social media. But if they want to make money then they should focus on pay-per-view ticket sales. The only way to do that is to have fans and get your name out there."
On his natural aptitude for boxing
"That's why I'm so outspoken and reckless with my shit talk! It's because, since day one of training, everyone around me was saying, "you have a natural talent for this. You shouldn't be this good, this fast." I think it goes back to my wrestling background – the footwork and the coordination that I worked on for years and years in that sport transferred to boxing very quickly."
On the mental aspect of the game
"Fighting is more mental than it is physical. Anyone can go outside and get in good shape, workout and maybe learn to throw a couple of punches. But are you actually a warrior? Do you have that heart of a lion? Do you have what it takes to keep pushing when the going gets tough? And not a lot of people do. A lot of people psyche themselves out before matches. At the end of the day, it's a one-on-one sport. It's very easy to lose yourself in all the hype and the promotion."
On his boxing journey
"I feel like I was put on Earth to do this. This is a match made in hell, for Jake Paul to come to boxing. It's unique. It's exciting. I'm at a young age and doing big things in the sport already. Nobody has ever headlined their own event in their third pro fight ever. With Justin Bieber performing! I have that boxing bug and I love cracking people in the face."
On proving the doubters wrong
"The only way you're liked in this generation is if you're normal and boring. That's the only way you're liked! Just go about your life and not harm a soul. Don't talk to anyone, don't say anything. No matter what, if you speak your opinion you're going to be hated by someone in this day and age. That's why everyone should be afraid of this Jake Paul kid coming into boxing. Because I don't have to do this. I'm choosing to do this. I love doing this. And I'm going to work my ass off to prove everyone wrong."
On the importance of trash talk
"All of these fights would be a lot bigger if fighters were to dedicate themselves to understanding content and making content and making callout videos. Talking shit back and forth. That's what we're seeing right now with me and Ben Askren. The stuff he's putting out is hilarious. He's doing a great job of promoting the fight and talking shit back and forth with me. That's what gets the general audience excited to watch a fight."
On changing the boxing industry
"This sport needs change, and there's nothing wrong with that. It's OK for evolution to happen and for change to happen. Change is good! The boxing industry is changing for the better. It's an exciting time to be a boxer. And the more innovation we can bring to this sport the better. Boxing helped save my life and it helped me get on this amazing path and it helped me become a better person. More people need to know about the sport, more people need to be fans of the sport. That's really what I want to help accomplish."