TAMPA, Fla. — Jake Paul’s ascent in the world of boxing isn’t stopping any time soon. Actually, it might just be getting started.
Paul, the YouTube star-turned-prizefighter, knocked out former UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley at 2:12 of the sixth round in a rematch Saturday night at Amalie Arena. In what was a lackluster fight before the finish, Paul walloped Woodley with a huge right hand, and Woodley was out cold on contact, face-planting to the mat.
“This is as real as it f—ing gets, just like my right hand,” Paul said.
The bout was contracted for 192 pounds over eight rounds. Paul beat Woodley in the first fight via split decision Aug. 29 in Paul’s hometown of Cleveland. Saturday’s bout had a clause that if Woodley knocked out his foe, he would win an extra $500,000. But Paul was the one with the spectacular stoppage victory.
Paul said he noticed Woodley was catching Paul’s right cross with Woodley’s left. When Woodley did it at that point in the sixth, Paul said, he timed it and landed the final blow.
“I got the knockout, the highlight-reel knockout,” Paul said in the postfight news conference. “I was setting up that shot. I knew he was trying to catch the right hand coming straight. I had to loop it like a hook.”
Woodley replaced Paul’s original opponent, Tommy Fury, the half brother of heavyweight champ Tyson Fury, on two weeks’ notice when Tommy Fury withdrew because of a broken rib and a chest infection.
“This guy is a legend,” Paul said of Woodley. “I respect him for taking this fight on two weeks’ notice, because Tommy Fury is a b—-.”
Paul suffered a cut from an errant Woodley elbow in the third round. It was a fairly big gash on Paul’s forehead, over his right eye, and blood was trickling down his face during the rest of the fight. Paul also said he pulled his arm in the first round. Woodley slammed him to the mat during a clinch exchange in the fourth.
The bout was sloppy until the finish, marked mostly by a lot of clinching. Every time the two men came together with attempted combinations, it seemed as if they ended up in a clinch and had to be separated. Paul had solid shots in the first two rounds, and Woodley’s best round came in the third, when he landed a big right hand. Paul landed a huge right in the fourth and started using his jab more successfully in the fifth. Woodley had been performing well in the sixth — until the finish.
“I dropped my f—ing hands one time, and that’s all it took,” Woodley said in the postfight news conference.
In his postfight interview, Paul called out UFC stars Jorge Masvidal and Nate Diaz for leaving the arena when Woodley got knocked out. Both had been sitting in the front row. In the postfight news conference, Paul took aim at UFC president Dana White and his fighters, which has been a mark of this run.
“I just knocked out a five-time UFC champion and embarrassed your whole company,” Paul said, targeting his comments at White. “Please let me get [UFC welterweight champion] Kamaru Usman. Please let me get Diaz. Please let me get Masvidal. Please let me get [Conor] McGregor. Because I’m going to embarrass them too. I promise you, Dana.”
Woodley actually outlanded Paul in power punches, 39-25. The two were even in total punches at 43-43. Paul worked the body better, outlanding Woodley 15-7 in total body shots.
Judges Michael Ross and Efrain Lebron had Paul up 49-46 heading into the sixth round. Judge James O’Connor had Paul ahead 48-47. Lebron had Paul winning the last four rounds; Ross had Paul winning every round except the third; and O’Connor had Woodley winning the third and fifth.
Paul (5-0) made his name as a social media influencer, first on Vine, then YouTube. He now owns pro boxing knockouts over YouTuber AnEsonGib, NBA veteran Nate Robinson and former MMA champion Ben Askren. The wins over Robinson, Askren and Woodley (twice) have come in the past 13 months.
Paul, 24, made his pro boxing debut in January 2020, and he has now ventured into the promotional game. His Most Valuable Promotions company promoted the card, with Showtime distributing on pay-per-view.
“It’s scary to put a cap on where this could go,” Paul said. “The potential really is unlimited here.
“I’m hungry, and I’m motivated, and I love this s—. Two years as a professional and this has gone astronomical and this is making history.”
Woodley (0-2), who was born in Ferguson, Missouri, is considered one of the best MMA welterweights of all time. He held the UFC welterweight title from 2016 to 2019. Woodley, 39, was released by UFC in March after a fourth straight loss to top 170-pound competition.
“I’m not done,” Woodley said. “Please do not look at me with sorrowed eyes.”