YouTube celebrity Jake Paul (2-0, 2 KOs) returns to the boxing ring this coming weekend when he takes on retired UFC fighter and former MMA welterweight champion Ben Askren in an eight-round contest to be broadcast live on Triller pay-per-view at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia.
In what is likely to be a lively and unorthodox boxing event, interspersed with musical performances from star names including Justin Bieber and Snoop Dogg, Paul takes a significant step up in class in taking on an actual fighter following his devastatingly one-sided knockout victory over retired Basketball player, Nate Robinson.
Having verbally sparred on social media for several months, the pair will now come face-to-face in the ring, with Askren taking part in his first-ever boxing contest following his MMA retirement in 2019.
A professional mixed martial artist and amateur wrestler, Askren, while not known for his striking ability, does at least possess a high level of fighting experience and while a betting underdog is confident he can upset the applecart and put an end to the YouTuber's fledgeling fighting career.
"When you think about it, boxing is so much easier than mixed martial arts. You just have to take your two hands and punch somebody in the face," Askren claimed.
"If I want to beat up an amateur boxer, it ain't gonna take me more than three months of training to do so."
Whether three months of training is enough is certainly up for debate, and Paul believes his greater experience in the squared circle will see him emerge victoriously.
"This is boxing versus MMA, and you're going to see the difference,"
"You're going to see the difference of a wanna-be fighter, a guy who choked in the Olympics, a guy who choked in the UFC, and now a guy who is going to choke against Jake Paul. I'm going to end this guy's career."
Paul, who has, perhaps somewhat optimistically set UFC favourites Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz in his sights, is never short of things to say, and while his brashness and bravado will win few fans north of his 18-25 demographic, his confidence might not be misplaced.
Certainly, oddsmakers are in increasing agreement with Paul's bombast, listing the California based fighter as a short 4/9 odds on to claim his third successive win.
Good for the sport?
While devotees of the sport might turn their noses up at such an event, there is no doubt that Paul buts bums on seats and with boxing no longer the mainstream attraction it once was, there are definitive silver linings to this very much 21st-century sporting spectacle.
Although the brash-talking Paul is very much a novice in boxing, his celebrity cache could well bring thousands, if not millions, of new fans to the sport.
Of course, for the less famous boxer looking to craft a career in the ring, Paul's ability to headline an event and earn millions in the process at this stage of his fighting career is jarring, to say the least.
However, Paul seems to be taking his career in the ring seriously and does appear to have developed some decent skills under the stewardship of BJ Flores, but his dangerous mismatch against Robinson was not something any true fight fan should want to see.
As such, while not against an actual boxer, this fight does at least boast more credibility for Paul with Askren, a former UFC welterweight champion who is perhaps, unfortunately, most famous for suffering the fastest knockout in the sport at a mere five seconds.
If Paul is serious about his boxing career, then it is to be expected that the more he competes, the more attention he will bring to the sport.
This can only be good for boxing. Of course, it would be nice if he actually fought an actual boxer, but hey-ho, it's 2021 and what might have seemed ridiculous in the past is now a pay-per-view attraction.
Still, it's not like boxing has not witnessed its fair share of sporting carnivals of the ridiculous in the past. Muhammad Ali vs Antonio Inoki, anyone?
Indeed, with the fight being presented by boxing newcomers Triller, one can only hope that the legendary rapper Snoop Dogg is again handed commentary detail following his extraordinary debut in the Tyson vs Jones bout held earlier this year.
The card will also feature the return of Josh Taylor victim, Regis Prograis, as he makes his comeback in 140lb weight-class against journeyman Ivan Redkach.
Former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir will also feature as he makes his professional boxing debut when he faces the veteran Steve Cunningham.
Where and when?
Paul vs Askren is scheduled for this coming Saturday, April 17 and will be held at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia.
What's on the line?
Bragging rights and little else. Paul is taking part in his 3rd paid boxing contest while Askren makes his debut in a boxing ring.
Where can I watch it?
The bout will be broadcast live on pay-per-view on Triller in the U.S. and is also available on Fite.TV and the Triller app. The undercard begins at 2 am BST.
Where's the value?
Paul's odds have been shrinking by the day, and the Youtuber is now available at just 4/9 odds on to claim the win.
Having been as long as 8/11 at the beginning of the week, support for Paul has continued as the fight draws closer.
Indeed, when first checking the odds, my gut feeling was that the 8/11 on offer represented some decent value considering Askren's lack of experience in the boxing ring and his widely perceived lack of striking ability.
A Paul KO is now on offer at the 8/11 that was previously available for the win only, and while those odds have also shortened this week, this selection would appear to offer better value given the unlikelihood of this bout going the full eight rounds.
Ultimately, with Paul boasting significantly more boxing training, and Askren offering limited ability as a puncher or indeed experience as a boxer, Paul should possess enough punching power to make this a short night´s work for the divisive YouTube star.