YouTube star Jake Paul faces his toughest test as a boxer yet as he steps into the ring with former Bellator and ONE welterweight champion Ben Askren this month.
After the pair went back and forth on social media at the back end of 2020, it was announced in December that they would have a boxing match.
It was later revealed that they would headline a card for Triller, which also includes former world light welterweight champion Regis Prograis.
This PPV event is set to be a huge occasion as the likes of Justin Bieber, Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube and Pete Davidson are all due to be in attendance.
The fight night is due to take place on Saturday, April 17 at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. The main event will be an eight-round contest.
What the fighters have said…
Askren - who retired from MMA in 2019 - told The Metro, as cited by Boxing Scene, that it is "impossible" to know if Paul is any good at boxing:
"We haven't seen anything. The level of his competition was so low that it was almost impossible to tell if he is actually good at this.
"If there is one thing people respect about all fighters it's the toughness to deal with adversity in battle and we have not seen that out of him. I don't think he was hit hard by either one of those guys. They were so incredibly terrible at boxing. So, we haven't seen anything out of him yet.
"I didn't realize how much people didn't like Jake Paul until I tuned in and started listening to what people were saying about him. At best for me, it's like 50 percent positive comments and 50 percent negative comments. That's my persona. But everyone freaking hates Jake Paul.
"One of the things you have to realize about prize fighting is that the more recognition and scrutiny you can bring to yourself, the faster you are going to move up the ranks. When you look at the job, you have to look at all parts of the job. Is part of the job being good at fighting? Absolutely. But a part of the job is also figuring out how to promote yourself so you can advance much quicker."
Paul has claimed that the main reason for him to take this fight is to prove himself against a "real fighter":
"This fight will give me a lot of credibility. Ben's 19-2, has less losses than McGregor, two-time NCAA Division-I champ, Olympic wrestler, so yeah, he's a real fighter. That's why I wanted to do this fight, is to show the world this real fighter's getting in with Jake Paul and he's gonna get KO'd in two rounds."
How will the fight go?
As crossover boxing matches go, this really is a fascinating one. Paul goes into it with a 2-0 record as a professional boxer.
On paper, this looks good, but his wins came against fellow YouTuber AnEsonGib and former NBA star Nate Robinson.
Askren held MMA world titles in Bellator and One Championship. He also represented the United States as a wrestler at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
The 36-year-old made his UFC debut in 2019 and in his second fight, Jorge Masvidal knocked him out with a lethal flying knee inside five seconds.
Askren has not fought professionally since 2019 and he has no experience as a boxer.
This contributes to Paul being the favourite for this fight. Admittedly, the YouTuber has not faced anyone of note yet.
But he has won in style in both of his pro fights and he is clearly the most gifted out of any of his YouTube counterparts. To step up from facing fellow personalities to a modern-day MMA great is obviously a huge jump.
What is in Paul's favour is that Askren has shown throughout his career that he is at his weakest when he is on his feet trading with his opponent.
Askren is one of the best pure grapplers of his era, but he does not have much power or snap in his punches.
Meanwhile, Paul has proved himself to have some natural power when he lands his combinations. Even though Askren has little experience as a boxer, his sporting background alone comfortably makes him Paul's most difficult test so far.
You have to admire Paul. He is not very likeable, but he is clearly taking boxing seriously.
If he beats Askren, as I fancy him to do, it would do wonders to legitimise him ahead of future big-money pay-per-view bouts down the line.
Boxing fans better get used to Paul, because he's going to be around for a while yet…