Jake Paul is back in the win column.

It took for a return to his feast of mixed martial artists-turned-boxers to have his hand raised in victory. UFC star Nate Diaz was valiant in his pro boxing debut but was dropped midway through an eventual ten-round unanimous decision defeat. Paul won by scores of 97-92, 98-91 and 98-91 in their DAZN/ESPN+/PPV.com Pay-Per-View main event Saturday from the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.  

Paul suffered his first career defeat earlier this year in a split decision to England’s Tommy Fury but was pleased with the adjustments made to prevail on Saturday.

“I knocked him down, I won almost every round,” Paul said after his first win since outpointing Anderson Silva last October 29 in Glendale, Arizona. “I think he won that one round. Listen, Nate’s a warrior. I had him hurt in that first round and he kept on coming.”

The bulk of the sold-out crowd offered its support for the 38-year-old former MMA fighter, who made his pro boxing debut. The fans couldn’t bail out Diaz once the bell sounded, as Paul immediately went on the attack. A left hook and a series of right hands had the Stockton, California native hurt and on the defensive barely a minute into the fight. Paul punished him along the ropes but was unable to follow up in the back half of the round.

Diaz fought from the outside in the opening minute of round two. Paul—a Cleveland native who lives and trains in Dorado, Puerto Rico—quickly closed the gap and landed right hands upstairs along with the occasional body shot. Diaz managed to clinch his way out of trouble and alternated between playing to the crowd and throwing shots at close range.

Paul returned to the left hook, which landed repeatedly in round three. Diaz’s head snapped back roughly 80 seconds into the frame but he didn’t show any signs of being hurt beyond that immediate sequence. Diaz briefly turned away to check if blood was dripping from his nose, after which the 26-year-old Paul landed an uppercut and later a left hook over his high, unorthodox guard.

Diaz punched his way into the fight in a highly competitive fourth round. Paul continued to land his left hook along with right hands. However, Diaz began to close the gap and landed enough left hands to get Paul’s attention.

The fight took a dramatic shift back in Paul’s favor just one round later.

Paul used his ring smarts to create spacing from a plodding Diaz. A step back perfectly set up a left hook to the temple, which caused Diaz to stumble to the canvas and nearly through the ropes. He managed to beat the count and managed to land a couple of power shots. He also took a right hand to the body along the ropes and continued to turn away and pause in place. Paul would inch closer but never to the point of recklessness in the event that Diaz was trying to set a trap.

Diaz made it through round six without touching the canvas or absorbing anything of consequence. Paul caught his attention with a right hand in round seven, which moved Diaz back but didn’t cause any damage beyond that. Both boxers landed uppercuts at close range, with Paul getting the better of the exchange.  

Paul was on the move throughout round eight, while Diaz stood his ground and waited to corner the social media influencer. Diaz landed several left hands and right hooks in the closing seconds of the round as Paul ran out of ring space. The statistical best round of the fight for Diaz saw him land 26-of-57 punches, but couldn’t resist an attempted headbutt shortly after the bell.

Paul landed a right hand in round nine to regain control of the fight, which was the first for Paul to go beyond eight rounds. Diaz slightly moved back, then played possum in an effort to draw in his foe. Paul wouldn’t take the bait and instead allowed Diaz to play to the crowd.

The tenth and final round saw Paul return to boxing basics. He worked his jab and used movement to disallow Diaz the opportunity to plant and throw his straight left. That briefly changed with a little more than one minute to go when Diaz threw his version of a flurry along the ropes. Paul clinched and then returned to boxing down the stretch.

Diaz (0-1) couldn’t avoid his MMA roots as he applied a guillotine in the closing seconds of the contest. He could actually have the chance to apply those skills in a rematch on terms more befitting his combat sports background.

“Ten million dollars in PFL (Professional Fighting League), that’s the offer,” Paul insisted afterward. “Let’s run it back in MMA. I won one, now it’s your chance in your territory. MMA, let’s do it.”  

It sounded good to his longtime out-of-ring rival which has now formed something of a partnership.

“I’m down with that,” said Diaz, whose Real Fight, Inc. presented Saturday’s event along with Paul’s Most Valuable Promotions (MVP). “He beat me but I got him with a single leg in the first and a choke in the ninth, so I won that battle.”

Paul advanced to 7-1 (4KOs) with his return to the win column more than five months after his lone career defeat. The decision marked his fourth distance fight within his past five fights. The exception came in his December 2021 sixth-round knockout of Tyrone Woodley after a split decision victory over the former UFC welterweight champion four months earlier.  

A fight with Diaz under MMA rules Is fine with the multi-talented businessman, though there is a bit of unfinished business.

“There’s a lot of names if we go back to the drawing board,” noted Paul. “A Tommy Fury rematch. I lost a split decision. I’m gonna try and get that back. With this new team I’m a new fighter. I’m ready for that but I’m just happy with this win.”  

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox