For the first time in his burgeoning boxing career, Jake Paul found himself in a real fight. He proved to be more than up to the task.
The social-media-personality-turned-boxer went eight rounds with a former UFC champion, capturing a split decision triumph against Tyron Woodley in the main event of a Showtime Sports card at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland on Sunday night. Judge Jaime Garayua had it 77-75 and Dana DePaolo saw it 78-74 — both in favor of Paul — while Phil Rogers submitted a 77-75 tally in favor of Woodley.
“He’s a tough opponent. He’s been boxing, fighting, striking — whatever you want to call it — for 20-something years,” Paul said of Woodley. “I’ve been doing this for three years as of a couple days ago. This was a tougher fight than I expected. My legs felt weird since the locker room.
“All respect to Tyron. He’s a Hall of Famer. He put up a good fight. He’s a good boxer, he came in shape. I have nothing but respect [for] him. There was a lot of s—t talk back and forth. My apologies to his team if anyone felt disrespected. There’s no hard feelings.”
After dispatching his previous three opponents in short order, Paul (3-0) adopted a disciplined approach against Woodley, as he controlled the ring early on and worked well behind his jab while also landing effective body-head combinations on occasion. Woodley, meanwhile, faced the same struggles as he did in his UFC career in that he struggled to match his opponent’s volume.
The momentum seemed to shift in the fourth round, when Woodley connected with an overhand right that made Paul stumble into the ropes. The gave the UFC veteran more confidence, and he walked Paul down for the rest of the stanza. To his credit, Paul regained his bearings and was able to land more offense down the stretch. Woodley was unable to duplicate his fourth round magic and didn’t put Paul in significant danger the rest of the way.
According to statistics provided by CompuBox, Paul outlanded Woodley by a 71-to-52 count in the fight, including a notable 36-to-11 advantage in jabs. Woodley was slightly better in power punches, with a 41-to-35 edge.
“He hit me with one shot the whole fight. That was a good shot,” Paul admitted. “He hit me with more shots, but I’m saying like a real shot. I still got the victory. I got eight rounds under my belt. All my previous opponents went one minute.”
Woodley (0-1) wasn’t satisfied with the final ruling, and he demanded an immediate return date with Paul in his post-fight interview.
“I feel like I won the fight. I feel like Jake’s a great opponent. I didn’t expect him to go down. But the fact that one judge gave me [only] two rounds is laughable,” Woodley said.
“Off the top I want an instant rematch. Nobody gonna sell a pay-per-view like we did. I hit him, the ropes held him up. I landed more power shots. When he threw the shots, they were hitting my glove.”
In the co-main event, Amanda Serrano cruised to a unanimous decision victory over Yamileth Mercado to retain her WBO and WBC featherweight titles. The 32-year-old Puerto Rican received scorecards of 97-93, 98-92, 99-91 for her 27th consecutive victory.
Regarded as one of the top pound-for-pound female fighters in the sport, Serrano controlled the ring throughout the 10-round affair. “The Real Deal” stalked Mercado (18-3) while landing crisp punching combinations to the head and body. The body work was especially notable, as Serrano outlanded her opponent by a 65-to-13 count in that category, according to CompuBox.
Serrano (41-1-1), who owns a 2-0-1 record in MMA with a pair of appearances in Combate Americas, really picked up the intensity in the final round, bloodying her opponent’s face with combinations while hunting for the knockout. Nonetheless, Mercado was able to hang tough until the final bell.
Elsewhere, Tommy Fury, the younger half-brother of heavyweight champ Tyson Fury, cruised to a forgettable unanimous verdict over Bellator MMA veteran Anthony Taylor in four-round cruiserweight bout. All three judges scored the fight 40-36 in favor of the Englishman.
Bolstered by a significant size and reach advantage, Fury (7-0) tagged Taylor (0-2) with uppercuts, right hands and periodic punching combinations. “Pretty Boy’s” only response was attempt to close the distance behind overhand rights before forcing the clinch, but that approach proved to be largely unsuccessful. A series of power shots from Fury appeared to slow Taylor toward the end of Round 2, and “TNT” later stunned his adversary with a clean left hook in Round 4.
After the victory, Fury called for a showdown with headliner Jake Paul, who used Taylor as a primary sparring partner ahead of his matchup with Woodley.
Montana Love TKO's Baranchyk!!!!! (Baranchyk's corner stopped the fight) pic.twitter.com/fR3PIHfTNo— (@FTBVids_YT) August 30, 2021
In earlier action: Cleveland native Montana Love (16-0-1) dropped Russia’s Ivan Baranchyk (20-3) with a counter left uppercut late in the seventh round of their cruiserweight (140-pound) matchup, which ultimately led to a technical knockout victory. Though Baranchyk initially returned to his feet and wanted to continue, his corner called the fight at the conclusion of the frame.
Daniel Dubois (17-1) made short work of Joe Cusumano in a heavyweight tilt, flooring his foe three times en route to a technical knockout victory at the 2:10 mark of Round 1.
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