LAS VEGAS — When he is introduced publicly, Jake Paul is almost always referred to as “a YouTube sensation,” even though, by his own admission, Paul is no longer a YouTuber.
After thinking about it for a while, Paul said he prefers to be referred to as an athlete, or a boxer, because that’s what he is.
His trainer, B.J. Flores, insists with a straight face that he has the ability to become a very good one. That may well be so.
But on Saturday night when he steps into the ring at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta to face ex-Bellator and ONE champion Ben Askren, he will do so as a professional boxer who has yet to face a boxer in the ring.
Paul is 2-0 with two knockouts, and his bouts were against another guy who could be referred to as a YouTube sensation — just a bit less of a sensation than Paul — and a former NBA slam dunk champion.
Askren might be the last guy UFC president Dana White would choose if White was forced to pick one of his athletes to represent mixed martial arts in a boxing match.
But unlike Paul, Askren is a lifelong athlete who has excelled for years in combat sports. He’s been in the cage with Robbie Lawler and Jorge Masvidal. He’s won NCAA Division I wrestling championships and a U.S. national championship. He competed in the 2008 Olympics.
This is a guy, no matter how poor you may assess his striking to be, who knows what it’s like to be in the fight, and won’t wilt under the pressure.
We don’t know how Paul is going to react, as he conceded himself.
“You would think the guy who is 19-2 and is a two-time NCAA champ, an Olympic athlete who is in this game for years and years would be the favorite,” said Paul, who is now a -200 favorite at BetMGM.
Askren is +150, though the line has been bouncing around. But it makes little sense to make a play on Paul, who, even if Flores is telling the truth about and has a lot of talent, has never done it against an elite fighter. Or, for that matter, any fighter of any type, period.
So give me the plus money on Askren to win all day. I’ll put three units on Askren at +150, risking $300 to make a profit of $450.
I will bet Demetrius Andrade to win at -350 over Liam Williams.
I will also take Andrade at even money to win by decision.
I will lay -450 on Regis Prograis to win by KO or TKO over Ivan Redkach.
I will take Steve Cunningham to win by KO/TKO and lay the -350.
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