“YOU can tell how professional this event is by them having me here. We have a bout between Ben Askren – I don’t know who that is still and I’ve been reading up on him all week – and Jake Paul. They both suck, but at least somebody’s gonna get hurt.” Those are the words of Pete Davidson, a comedian drafted in to provide commentary for the fight between Paul and Askren on Triller. Unfortunately for me, and anyone choosing to read this, that spectacle is being explored in this column as it was more akin to a media performance than an actual boxing card.
For those who smartly avoided the show, Askren was stopped in one round. The result doesn’t matter and never did; this was a YouTuber up against a former UFC fighter who is notorious for being bad at boxing, and who is coming off of major hip surgery.
It was the packaging of this fight that is troubling, rather than the content. This has always been unironically classified as boxing, and the ludicrous state of the sport meant that very few questioned that. In the aftermath, a quick look on social media will show you swathes of combat sport fans bemoaning how boxing has plummeted to new depths.
The stoppage of the fight was, admittedly, bizarre as Askren seemed fit to continue. A fix, as many claimed afterward, it was not. Even the thin slice of actual boxing on this show proved to be farcical, as Ivan Redkach was stretchered off after taking a borderline kidney shot from Regis Prograis.
If Triller leaned into the ridiculousness that Davidson spoke about, this would all actually be pretty funny. However it’s his last comment that causes problems; Triller is pandering to an audience out for blood, who wants to see physical pain rather than a competition. They are selling the lie that this is actual boxing because, technically, it is – it’s all fully licensed. That’s on boxing.
Earlier in the week, Paul claimed he had visited a doctor who confirmed that he has “early signs of CTE (Chronic traumatic encephalopathy),” a brain degeneration caused by repeated traumas. Though an IQ test might suggest otherwise, last time we checked Jake Paul is not a corpse. So, there is no doctor on the planet who could study his brain for signs of CTE, because that can only be done during an autopsy.
Paul later walked back the statement but the damage had been done. He was literally boasting about a falsified brain injury that has ruined – and in some cases ended – the lives of fighters and players of American Football, rugby and other sports. He claimed it as a badge of honour.
It was disgusting and a clear indication of Paul’s relationship to the sport; he’s a tourist on safari, taking selfies with animals tearing chunks out of each other and adding them to his scrapbook.
Any self-respecting member of the boxing community would have distanced themselves from Paul as soon as he uttered that poison. Instead, the likes of BJ Flores lost their minds when he stopped Askren, likely seeing nothing but dollar signs. They should be ashamed.
The broadcast of the show only added to the farce, with Snoop Dogg and Oscar De La Hoya embarrassing themselves beyond the point of parody. It sounded like a bunch of middle-aged men in a bar watching the fights and trying to sound funny and intelligent. Michael Buffer couldn’t even be bothered to pronounce Askren’s name correctly.
In an interesting move, DAZN elected to stage their US card topped by Demetrius Andrade and Liam Williams earlier in the day local time so that it aired at prime time for international audiences.
It’s fairly uncommon for shows to do this, particularly if they’re in the US, but this seems to be a sign of DAZN very much establishing themselves as a global streaming service, rather than a traditional American broadcaster.
Now, would they do this for a Canelo Alvarez card? No chance. Andrade’s middling popularity in his home country and the fact Williams is Welsh were undoubtedly part of the reason DAZN didn’t cater solely to a US audience. Whatever the case, it was a welcome decision and one that hopefully continues.
It’s tough to decide whether the Tyson Fury-Anthony Joshua updates this week were a tonic to the Paul-Askren fiasco or just a further indictment of boxing.
Fury, speaking to Behind The Gloves, claimed he is now “100 per cent confident” the fight happens next and expects a full announcement imminently. Eddie Hearn told several outlets that both sides have finally agreed on a site deal and that details will be revealed soon.
It’s undoubtedly good news, but this has also been dragging on for weeks. That’s no real fault of anyone involved – by all accounts it’s been a relatively smooth process – it’s just the nature of the beast. The wheels of boxing turn slowly.
After announcing his retirement in November, and talking in-depth to Boxing News about that retirement only a few weeks ago, popular heavyweight trier Dave Allen has now confirmed he will return to boxing at a “low level.”
Speaking on social media, Allen said he wants to win national titles and won’t be rushing into fights with rising contenders anytime soon.
Some expressed concern at Allen’s announcement, citing the significant punishment he’s shipped over the years as more than enough reason to stay retired. It’s a little more complicated than that; Allen has been open about his mental health struggles in the past, and has also made it clear how happy boxing makes him.
At 29, if he wants to ease himself back into the ring and see how things go then power to him. Ultimately, it’s his choice, and having happily taken on dangerous heavyweights in the past, he deserves to do things on his own terms.