There is a long history of celebrity boxing exhibitions, but few have turned that into a more legitimate business than Jake Paul, who has taken a Floyd Mayweather-esque approach to selling fights, begging people to tune in to the PPV event on the chance he gets knocked out. To this point, Paul has dodged that fate and cashed in on his way to being one of the sports biggest PPV draws, to the chagrin of some.
It’s a tried and true formula, playing the heel in a sport that provides a true chance at comeuppance in the form of a knockout, by either being more talented than anyone (such as Floyd) or stacking the deck by fighting “real fighters” whose are not boxers first, in the case of Paul. He knocked out Ben Askren and then grinded out a decision win over Tyron Woodley through activity rather than domination. When Tommy Fury had to back out a month ago, Woodley got his desire for a rematch and insists things will be different this time around. Whether that’s anything more than talk to sell PPVs for Showtime remains to be seen, but we spoke with Woodley on his satellite media tour on Thursday about why, despite a recent announcement, this wasn’t a short camp for him and how he promises to learn from the last fight to be more aggressive early now knowing he can push through Paul’s power.
This was a short camp for you. What was your process in getting prepared coming in as a replacement and get this opportunity at a rematch?
You know, it wasn’t really a short camp for me. People say that because of the time that it was announced to you guys. For me, I was already thinking about fighting Jake Paul. I was already making adjustments from the last fight to fight Jake Paul. I was already training, and most of my training was fixing the things I could’ve did better. That’s where we started at. That was my base. Why would I not use that for the actual fight? By time the fight got to me that they needed me to fill in, all it was for me was some extra cardio and some extra sparring at that point in time. So I was already sparring. I fought 12 rounds a week and a half before I even knew about the fight. So for me, it was like, of course. I’m in shape. I’m ready. I mentally want this win against this kid. I want redemption. I want revenge. So it wasn’t really a short camp, you know? I think this was destiny. I told my coaches in September — go to my Instagram page, October 7, you’re gonna see a post. It’s gonna say team stay ready. You got to see my coach John Tucker in St. Louis, Missouri, flying in from Miami, Florida. You can see me train with my strength conditioning coach. What would I do any different in a training camp? I was doing exactly what I would have been doing had I been in this training camp — running, sparring, boxing, strength and conditioning. So it wasn’t a last minute notice fight for me. It was just last minute notice to you guys and you guys are gonna get me whoopin his ass on Saturday on late notice.
What are some of the specific things that you think we’re gonna see from you that’s going to look different this time around?
Be first and expect him to come back. We expect them to fire back and then when you do so, make him miss and make him pay.
One of the differences for the judges last time was him just being the more active fighter. How do you make sure, especially in those early rounds, that you’re matching that activity and making sure you don’t go don’t go down on any cards this time?
Strike first. Strike hard. No mercy.
You’ve said you’re gonna finish him this time. What do you take from last time that makes you feel like you can? Do you feel like because you felt his power and you know that you can go through, and is that part of why you’re as confident coming in this time?
Of course, I mean, you got to take that confidence. He knows that too, he can say what he wants to say. Getting hit with a shot in boxing, you’re going to get punched that does not mean a damn thing. I sign up to acknowledge that. It’s very few boxing fights or boxers who can go out there and the entire fight they don’t get punched one time. In MMA yeah, I’ve had that. I didn’t get touched one time against Darren Till. I didn’t get punched one time against Robbie Lawler. Those were world championship fights. That’s not really the case in boxing. Boxing, you’re going to get hit. And I’ve shown that when he hit me, it actually kind of pissed me off a little bit. He hit me, I went forward. I didn’t back up, when I hit him he backed up. So the takeaways are pretty clear. When you watch the fight, the only person that did damage it made it look like, oh my god, this could end. It was me. It was never him. It was never a time of like, Oh my god, Tyron may go down. You didn’t see that. And you won’t see that on Saturday.