Why Anderson Silva is the perfect opponent for Jake Paul at this stage in his boxing career

·Combat columnist
·5-min read

Jake Paul was a multi-millionaire long before he dreamed of being a boxer, thanks to his wit, his business savvy and his gift of gab. It just so happens that those traits go a long way toward making one successful in professional boxing, as well.

Particularly for pay-per-view fights, name recognition is critical, and few fighters ever entered professional boxing with the ability to sell themselves to an audience the way Paul could.

There was a lot of jealousy and resentment among many boxers given the money Paul’s made during his brief stint as a pro and the attention he’s received. He’s hardly proven that he’s got potential to be a ranked fighter yet, let alone a champion, but he makes more and garners way more attention than 99 percent of all boxers.

Matchmaking is the most important element in running a boxing promotional company, both for the company and for the fighters who sign with it. Give a fighter too stiff of a test too soon and he or she could be ruined. Move him too slowly and he’ll fall behind on the development curve.

Paul is a new and developing boxer, and should be handled with kid gloves. But because he’s also headlining pay-per-view shows, his team needs to create a storyline to get interest in the fight.

That’s why Anderson Silva, the former UFC superstar, is the best possible opponent for Paul at this stage of his career.

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Look at the types of fighters that talented and developing boxing prospects such as Jared Anderson, Keyshawn Davis and Duke Ragan are facing and you’ll know exactly the type of opponent Paul should be fighting at this stage of his development. But, boxers at that level have no name recognition, no ability to sell and simply won’t work as the B-side in the main event of a pay-per-view boxing card. Hence, you have Paul calling out a slew of MMA fighters and boxers who aren’t developed but have familiar names.

Paul wasn’t trying to fight Tommy Fury because he thought Fury would make a good fight or was in any way an entertaining boxer. He wanted to fight Fury because Fury is the brother of WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury and had name recognition in the U.K. because of his appearance on a reality show.

Similarly, Paul’s planned August bout with Hasim Rahman Jr. had nothing to do with Rahman’s ability and everything to do with the fact that he shares a name with his father, who once happened to hold the heavyweight championship of the world.

Reports emerged Tuesday that Paul is talking to Silva about an Oct. 29 bout. It is definitely not finalized by any means, but the fact that Paul and his team are talking to Silva at all is shrewd.

Aug 16, 2022; Miami, Florida, USA; YouTube personality and boxer Jake Paul listens to the national anthem prior to the game between the Miami Marlins and the San Diego Padres at loanDepot Park. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
Jake Paul is reportedly in talks with UFC legend Anderson Silva for an October boxing match. (Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports)

Silva is 47 years old and despite being one of the greatest fighters in MMA history, he ended his career terribly. Over the last seven-plus years he was in the UFC, he went 1-7 with a no-contest. Prior to that, he’d won 16 UFC fights in a row, 17 in a row overall and 18 of 19. But after losing to Uriah Hall by TKO on Oct. 31, 2020, the UFC did not offer Silva a new contract.

Silva wasn’t ready to quit, so he boxed twice. He defeated former middleweight champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. by split decision on June 19, 2021, in Guadalajara, Mexico, and knocked out ex-UFC light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz in the first round on Sept. 11, 2021.

It’s not like Silva reminded anyone of Sugar Ray Robinson in either of those bouts. Chavez was undertrained and uninterested and was at the end of a career known more for its failures and disappointments than for his notable accomplishments. And Ortiz is a wrestler who was never known for having good hands and he was well past his prime when he met Silva.

Silva is a striker and while he’s not a boxer, he’d be far better in that realm that anyone Paul has faced in his career.

Silva would also be the most attractive name that Paul has faced, so he’d be a score on two different fronts.

The question is, could Paul actually beat Silva? Well, it’s got to be at least in the realm of possibility. Silva does have four boxing matches — he boxed once in 1998 and another time in 2005 before joining the UFC — but he’s 47. He’s not as quick or as powerful as he once was. Paul is 25 and hits hard enough to have at least knocked out former UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley with one shot.

It was a terrible fight, but Paul deserves credit for finishing it the way he did.

Now, if Silva were 25, this bout wouldn’t happen because a 25-year-old Silva would have destroyed Paul.

Against this version of Silva, though, Paul has a chance. And it’s not only a chance to win, but a chance to learn some of the nuances of the sport from one of the greatest combat sports athletes of this generation.

Don’t get the idea that Paul is going out looking for the toughest challenge he could find. He’s not. If he were, he’d be fighting someone other than Silva.

Silva, though, is a legend for a reason. And if he’s the choice, it shows that someone in Paul’s company has been paying attention and understands the value of matchmaking.