TAMPA – Jake Paul was never prouder of anything he’d achieved in boxing to this point than he was of the final right hand that put Tyron Woodley face first onto the canvas.
The five-plus rounds leading up to that now viral moment, though, were filled with moments upon which Paul would like to improve and then forget altogether.
“I got the highlight reel knockout,” Paul told BoxingScene.com and other reporters of his sixth-round knockout of Woodley this past Saturday at AMALIE Arena in Tampa, though the ending far trumped the lead-in. “I don’t know, I was just off. I was a little bit off. I pulled a muscle again in the first round.
“I had to fight through a lot of tough moments and Tyron’s tough. He caught me with an elbow, I was bleeding in my eye but I still got the job done.”
Paul was cut along the right side of his forehead by an inadvertent elbow from Woodley (0-2) midway through their Showtime Pay-Per-View main event, spending the rest of the contest fighting through blood along with his aforementioned muscle pull. The content creator-turned-boxing cruiserweight persevered, fainting with a jab, taking a step back and loading up on a right hand that left Woodley knocked out before he crashed to the canvas.
"The whole fight he was catching my jab. I wasn’t landing," noted Paul. "I was coming around with the six to the body. I went with the fake, came around and hit him with the one. That caught him. I was setting up for that shot all night.
"I low key load up on every punch, I really have to work on that. I will do that in my next camp. But that punch, I threw everything I had into that."
It was a marked improvement from their first fight, which saw Paul (5-0, 4KOs) go the distance for the first time as a pro. It resulted in a win, taking a split decision victory over Woodley who turned to boxing after an historic UFC career where he served as a longtime welterweight champion and earned a reputation as one of the hardest hitters ever in that domain.
The pair of fights with Woodley were a considerable upgrade for Paul. His prior bouts all ended inside of two rounds: a first-round knockout of retired mixed martial artist Ben Askren in April; a second-round knockout of former NBA star Nate Robinson last November; and a first-round knockout of fellow YouTube personality AnEsonGib in their respective pro debuts last January.
Needless to say, Saturday’s incredible finish is his best to date.
“I would say this is number one because of the level of opposition,” Paul admitted without hesitation. “He’s a five-time UFC welterweight champion and I flatlined him. Ben Askren is not really a striker. Nate Robinson, basketball player. The fact that I’ve proved I have one punch power, I’m a legend of the sport.
“People are going to be scared. That’s why (UFC star Jorge) Masvidal and Nate Diaz jumped out of their seats and left. They didn’t want me to jump out of the ring and go after them. People should be scared. Everyone is on high alert."
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox