It’s another day in 2021’s boxing reality.

You know, the world that’s being overtaken by the likes of Jake Paul.

Love it or loathe it, the Paul boys – that’s Jake and older brother Logan, for those somehow unaware – have become the straws that stir the in-rink drink.

Don’t think so? Ask yourself a simple question.

Of all the boxing pay-per-view shows this year, which have generated the most buzz?

And by buzz, we’re talking not just PPV buys – but also the sort of high-profile product placement that yields live remote commentaries on ESPN while it also generates chatter in the office lunchroom.

Here’s a hint, it’s not anyone whose name can be found in the Ring rankings.

And if that doesn’t tell you something, it should.

Rightly or wrongly, fairly or unfairly, wisely or stupidly, people like this stuff. They’re intrigued by it. They’re entertained by it. They want to hear more about it. And they’re willing to pay to see it again.

Whether Jake Paul can work the mitts or Logan Paul can skip a rope is immaterial to them.

The younger man’s blowout of Ben Askren apparently racked up a seven-figure buy rate, a threshold reached again by the older sibling’s 24 minutes with Mayweather two months ago in Miami.

Expect a number somewhere in that ballpark when the weekend’s figuring is done, too.

Incidentally, in the sort of air only reached routinely by guys like Mayweather and Tyson.

Meaning when you take an influencer’s cache and meld it with a top-shelf public relations apparatus – like the Showtime Sports conglomerate – it’s a match made in short-attention span Millennial heaven.  

Leaving other fighters wishing, at least when it comes to bank balances, they were them. Or at least allowed to hang around with them long enough to get their own names out there.

Amanda Serrano, Daniel Dubois and Charles Conwell took example on Sunday.

They’re selling a spectacle. A circus. A break from reality.

Or a farce if you prefer. 

But they’ve done their homework. They know their audience. And they delivered exactly what it sought.

Naturally, it leaves the legit boxing fan feeling one of two ways. 

Either they beat their chests and insist no one actually pays attention to this nonsense – you know, kind of like they did about the UFC so many years ago – or they recoil in fear at the specter of their sport being overrun by grudge matches between Instagram and TikTok celebrities.

Truth is, it’s probably somewhere closer the middle.

The market for this stuff is hot right now. And Sunday didn’t hurt.

Neither guy was a title contender, but it was an entertaining and evenly matched scrap.

So if you wanted to see Jake Paul in competitive peril, you did.

But if you wanted to see him lose, you didn't.

Paul certainly got his stiffest test from an aging Tyron Woodley but nevertheless gutted it out to earn a fairly scored split decision. 

Two judges gave it to Paul by 77-75 and 78-74 scores, while a third saw it 77-75 in Woodley's direction.

These eyes split the difference and saw it even at 76-76.

"It may not have been pretty," Showtime's Mauro Ranallo said, "but it was a work of heart from Jake Paul."

The longer he stays successful, the longer the momentum will last.

But it won’t be forever. Nothing ever is.

He’ll win a couple. He’ll lose a few. People will enjoy it, then they’ll get bored and start sniffing around for the next ridiculous diversion.

Gymnastics on ice skates. Full-contact bowling. Obstacle courses with live shelling.

Ultimately, when it comes to boxing, the craving for authenticity will win out.

We think.

But in the meantime, buckle up. We’re in for an unconventional ride.

* * * * * * * * * *

This week’s title-fight schedule: 


WBO junior bantamweight title – Tokyo, Japan

Kazuto Ioka (champion/No. 2 IWBR) vs. Francisco Rodriguez Jr. (No. 2 WBO/No. 9 IWBR)

Ioka (26-2, 15 KO): Third title defense; Former champ at 105, 108 and 112 pounds (2011-17)

Rodriguez Jr. (34-4-1, 21 KO): Fourth title fight (2-1); Held IBF/WBO titles at 105 (2014, one defense)

Fitzbitz says: Rodriguez has had a long and decorated career, but he’s not ha the same ladder-climb success as Ioka. Says here Ioka carries the skill to 115 pounds better. Ioka by decision (99/1)


IBO lightweight title – Leeds, United Kingdom

Jovanni Straffon (champion/No. 56 IBWR) vs. Maxi Hughes (No. 24 IBO/Unranked IWBR)

Straffon (24-3-1, 17 KO): First title defense; Second fight in the United Kingdom (1-0, 1 KO)

Hughes (23-5-2, 5 KO): First title fight; Fourth straight wins since most recent loss in 2019

Fitzbitz says: Straffon isn’t exactly an early-70s Roberto Duran, but he’s the better fighter here. Better KO power and slightly better beaten opposition. Should be a cakewalk, in fact. Straffon in 8 (85/15)

Last week's picks: None

2021 picks record: 27-9 (75.0 percent) 

Overall picks record: 1,183-384 (75.4 percent) 

NOTE: Fights previewed are only those involving a sanctioning body's full-fledged title-holder – no interim, diamond, silver, etc. Fights for WBA "world championships" are only included if no "super champion" exists in the weight class. 

Lyle Fitzsimmons has covered professional boxing since 1995 and written a weekly column for Boxing Scene since 2008. He is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Reach him at or follow him on Twitter – @fitzbitz.