There was a time when a loss in boxing might have spelled an end to the Jake Paul phenomenon. Let's say Ben Askren beat him or even Tyron Woodley in their first fight. The past two years would have been very, very different for Paul if that would have been the case. The YouTube-to-boxing experiment might have withered away before it had a chance to catch fire.
But it did catch fire, didn't it? And now, just moments after , via a split decision to Tommy Fury, that defeat doesn't really seem all that big of a deal. Paul, who is still just 26 years old, might have more options now than ever, even with his once-perfect record sitting at 6-1.
Context matters too. Paul wasn't knocked out or blown away. Actually, he was the one who scored the only knockdown in the fight, sending Fury down in the eighth and final round. ESPN scored the bout a draw. It was a very close fight, and a rematch would likely sell well. Paul vs. Fury actually ended up gaining steam with two previous cancellations, and Fury, 23, is a bigger star now after a win.
Paul's substantial pride would likely point him in that direction. He owns a rematch clause, and Paul said in the ring after the fight that he wants to exercise it. He'll want to get that victory back and say he has beaten every man he has ever faced -- the way he said he knocked out everyone he faced before a decision win over Anderson Silva.
Is Paul vs. Fury 2 the best option, though? Maybe not. Paul has a lot of irons in the fire, quite frankly. There is a real story to be told between Paul and fellow YouTuber KSI. Both of them, along with Logan Paul, kind of kicked off the influencer-turned-boxer craze back in 2018, when KSI fought Logan in an amateur bout. KSI beat Logan in a pro rematch in 2019, before younger brother Jake turned the entire subgenre on its head by knocking out former MMA champions.
Jake Paul and KSI have not stopped jawing at each other for the past few years, but a fight between them never really made too much sense -- until now.
Paul was on an undefeated streak in pro boxing matches, while KSI has racked up three knockout wins in exhibitions since last summer, including two wins in one night. KSI got his jollies on social media on Sunday with Paul losing, but Paul has at least been facing legitimate fighters, even if none was a "real" boxer until Fury.
Paul vs. KSI would probably be the biggest money fight Paul can do right now -- especially if a Paul boxing match with former UFC contender Nate Diaz, which once looked very promising, never comes to fruition. A Diaz bout is definitely one Paul can revisit, but it's not nearly as appealing now with Paul coming off a loss. Is still marketable, though? Absolutely.
And then there's MMA. Paul did sign with PFL last month, after all. The plan at that time was for Paul to make his debut in the cage as early as later this year. That could still be on the table, but it certainly doesn't look nearly as attractive now with some matters to settle in boxing.
Ultimately, Paul and his team will do whatever makes the most money and the most sense. Paul has made all the correct moves thus far, being guided by the extremely savvy former UFC chief financial officer Nakisa Bidarian, who co-founded Most Valuable Promotions with Paul. Those two will be busy in the next few months promoting Katie Taylor vs. Amanda Serrano 2, as well.
All of these things are good problems to have for Paul. And while Paul's stock isn't hurt too badly with the loss, Fury's win could make him boxing's next crossover star. He has work to do in the ring, but he already has the following, the marketability and now a high-profile victory to stick a flag in. There are a ton of big fights and opportunities heading Fury's way after this, as he moves out of the shadow of his heavyweight-great brother Tyson.
If Paul and Fury do end up fighting again and Fury wins -- especially if it's by knockout -- it could be monumental for his stardom. There probably aren't other opponents who would make sense for Fury next that would raise his stock other than Paul, so you'd have to believe Fury and his team will be pushing for the rematch -- and a more definitive outcome. But it's hard to say, since Fury's team has been building his career up more traditionally, against journeymen and gatekeepers.
The ironic thing in all of this is that after the amount of bad blood Paul and Fury have had over the past two-plus years, Paul has been the one responsible for turning Fury from a star in the reality show "Love Island UK" with a novice boxing career to a potentially bankable draw in the squared circle.
"The world was watching this fight," Fury said in the postfight news conference. "I have that experience behind me now. So, when I go into another big dance like this, a lot of it's behind me. I'll know how to cope with it. Having been in the ring with Jake once, I'm pretty sure I'll get the stoppage next time."