The Triller Fight Club event featuring Jake Paul vs. Ben Askren made waves, but were they for the right reasons, and can the momentum last?
On April 17, Jake Paul did what he does best, which is to make people talk. After his round-1 stoppage of former MMA star Ben Askren, everybody had an opinion.
Love him or hate him, you have to give Paul credit for getting in the boxing ring and even more for continuing his knockout streak. His competition hasn’t been stellar, but many boxers start by fighting lower-level competition. In this regard, the origin of Paul’s boxing career is no different.
None of his opponents were real boxers, but they all entered the ring with the intent of punching Paul’s head and body. There’s the saying repeated by many, “You don’t play boxing.” Paul’s opponents found that out the hard way, especially Nate Robinson and now Askren.
— FITE (@FiteTV) April 18, 2021
Whatever your feelings are about Paul, he seems to have taken his boxing training seriously. His opponents can be criticized, but his right hand contains enough power to render someone unconscious. He also has enough skill to accurately land a knockout punch which is incredibly difficult no matter who you’re fighting. It’s something that many people haven’t attempted. You don’t know how hard it is until you’ve tried.
Paul shouldn’t be revered as an elite boxer because he’s not. That’s something that has to be proven over time in the ring, but he deserves that chance to give it a shot if that’s what his heart desires.
Triller Fight Club isn’t purely a boxing promotion or brand. It’s doing something that has never been done before. It’s a fusion of social media, boxing, music, and celebrity in a mass that has yet to be defined. It’s new, and it’s imperfect.
There’s plenty to criticize about the Triller Fight Club Paul vs. Askren event. It fell short of the seriousness and quality of Mike Tyson vs. Roy Jones Jr. Triller wowed with Tyson vs. Jones. It took what some considered a sideshow and turned it into a legitimate sporting event with a twist.
The broadcasting team took their duties seriously and treated Tyson and Jones like the legends they are. It also presented Paul vs. Robinson in an earnest manner even though Robinson had no business in a boxing ring.
Triller Fight Club and Jake Paul aren’t everybody’s cup of tea but are doing big boxing business
Badou Jack fought a real fight, and musical performances gave the right mix of ambiance but didn’t overpower what was going on in the ring. The music was complimentary to the fights.
Snoop Dogg’s charisma and causal boxing fandom was briefly featured and not at the forefront. He gave the show a break from the seriousness, but Tyson vs. Jones was about boxing first. The same can’t be said for Paul vs. Askren.
The class of Tyson vs. Jones was absent during Paul vs. Askren. The mixture of serious boxing pundits with inebriated celebrities didn’t mix well. The production was constantly off the rails and made for a sloppy presentation.
The continuous F-bombs, weed smoke, and possibly drunk guest commentators made Triller Fight Club look more like an out-of-control house party than a sporting event. People stare at individuals when they’re acting like trainwrecks with the absence of respect. The slap fighting didn’t help elevate the maturity of this event either.
These issues with the latest Triller Fight Club card drove boxing purists nuts, and I understand why, but I also respect that Triller is experimenting with something new. I appreciate that they have the courage to take chances even if the result isn’t necessarily pleasing to me, and I am willing to give them time to figure out where they want to go with their product.
Triller and Paul can’t be bad for boxing. It’s improbable that someone will tune into Triller Fight Club and say that they’re never going to watch boxing again because of it. If that’s the case, they were never a boxing fan to begin with or never had any intention of sticking with the sport.
Triller and Paul tapped into the youth movement. Social media is key to advancing boxing’s appeal to a younger generation. I didn’t always feel that way, but I do now. The evidence is too strong.
If the Paul vs. Askren pay-per-view numbers floating around are true, then Triller is really on to something. They are generating massive buys primarily through networking with influencers and through the social media landscape. Even if the numbers are off, the fight night buzz was evident.
That’s the way fights are going to sell in the future, and that’s what boxers have to utilize if they want to generate a mass following. Ryan Garcia has proved that. It’s also why he’s the most famous boxer outside of Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather before ever winning a major title.
Triller’s purchase of the FITE.TV app shows that they’re here to stay. They need to refine their product further, but give them a chance before writing them off. They’re providing insight into the boxing business model and are a signal of an evolving media landscape.