Jake Paul is trying to put his money where his mouth is.
Earlier this month, Paul announced his next boxing match will be against the little-known Andre August on Dec. 15 at Caribe Royale Resort in Orlando, Fla. The matchup came as a surprise to fans as August is major diversion from most of Paul’s previous opponents, who have been either former MMA fighters or influencers. Instead, August is a 10-1-1 boxer from Houston with minimal profile. But that’s exactly why Paul says he wanted to take the matchup.
“There’s a lot of reasons,” Paul explained on The MMA Hour. “It’s mostly for me, for my experience, my road to world championship, and to grow inside the squared circle, those four corners. And to get the time under my belt. I think people, when I said I wanted to become world champion, thought it was just some gimmick or I was saying it just to sell more fights or to gain people’s attention. When I said it, I actually meant it.
“This is me acting like a boxing prospect. It’s me building my experience in the ring, taking challenges, and staying sharp in camp. Working, working, working. This is the time I need to be able to get to that level of being the best in the world. That’s where I’m going to be and that’s where I have my mind set on. It’s my biggest goal and this is the path to get there. It’s no longer about business and making all this money. I’ve already generated $250 million, $200 million in pay-per-view sales. We’ve done that. Great. Congratulations. This is about real boxing now.”
A former YouTuber and Disney Channel star, Paul has carved out a niche in boxing over the past few years, largely through targeting former MMA legends for his opposition. After losing a split decision to Tommy Fury at the start of 2023, Paul then rebounded with a win over Nate Diaz in their long-awaited fight in August. While initially there was some talk of a rematch with Diaz in MMA, Paul says that those negotiations fizzled, and so instead he’s full steam ahead with his other plans.
“I think there’s still some names that need to be taken care of, like Tommy Fury or KSI for example,” Paul said. “Nate Diaz has ducked me in MMA. Those things still excite me, but I’m not waiting around for anyone or anything. I’m going to get to my goal regardless, and if we want to make those other crossover fights happen at some point, then it can fit into the schedule. But for right now, I’m on a way path, nothing can stop me, tunnel vision, straight forward and taking these fights now to grow that experience.
“For me, this is about signing myself up for more fights to stay sharp and to continue to grow.”
That goal is a world championship and an eventual fight with Canelo Alvarez. Alvarez is currently the undisputed super middleweight champion of the world and the biggest name in boxing. And while Paul knows he’s still a ways off from getting that level of fight, he believes that he’s actually much closer than most people think.
“I think the path that I’m on now tees me up in the future to fight Canelo,” Paul said. “It’s even just showing him that I can go 10 or 12 rounds with you, [that] I’ve done that with real, legitimate pro boxers and beat them. So when I beat these guys in the year or two to come, and continue to raise the level of opposition, I think me vs. Canelo becomes a really interesting fight and something that a lot of people would be like, ‘Oh, Jake’s going to get destroyed.’ But there’s that fun thing in your mind, the same thing with Francis Ngannou and Tyson Fury. ‘Yeah, but he’s the bigger guy who has punching power!’ So it becomes this really fun, interesting fight that I think is historical, and Canelo has expressed interest in interviews, so I think we’re closer than we think.”
Paul believes the best way to increase Canelo’s interest is to show that he’s serious about boxing, and not just doing it as a quick payday. One of the primary knocks on Paul’s boxing career has been the delta between Paul’s opposition and his aspirations. That’s one of the primary reasons for the August matchup, and one that Paul says is already starting to pay dividends for his perception.
“Ninety percent positive,” Paul said of the response to his fight announcement. “So much support from other boxers and world champions saying this is amazing, this is awesome. And I think a lot of people being shocked as well, ‘Oh, this wasn’t just a business play for him.’ This is my life, and it is. That’s the truth. I love this s***. I’m passionate about it. I need boxing. … This is what I do, this is what I love. When I’m not in the gym, I’m kind of like a lost puppy. This is my destiny. So I think a lot of people [are] realizing that and respecting that.”
There will be more respect for Paul if he can actually win. The last time Paul faced someone with actual professional boxing experience, Fury handed him his first professional loss, so there is certainly risk in taking this fight. Paul believes that if he focuses on himself and the fundamentals, he’ll get his hand raised on Friday. Then it’s full steam ahead towards Canelo.
“For sure, two to three [fights in 2024],” Paul said. “Staying on that cadence, staying sharp and growing. I have to be in the gym 24/7 to reach my goal of being the best in the world. I’m on this tunnel vision war path to get there, and I’m excited to show people that. It’s like 50 Cent, Get Rich or Die Trying. I’m going to become a world champion or die trying.”
This story originally appeared on MMA fighting