On Sunday, beneath the warm Saudi Arabian sky of the nation’s original capital, Diriyah, restored and repurposed as an international destination rich in history and the amenities the wealthy demand, populists Jake Paul and Tommy Fury will attempt to substantiate their credentials and disproportionate public prominence as professional prizefighters. Against each other.
Betting sites are struggling to separate them on the betting line.
The bout is scheduled for eight rounds at an approximated Cruiserweight limit of 185 pounds. 10 pounds higher than Light Heavyweight, the division Fury appears to consider his home, but 15 beneath the current maximum for the division.
These sojourns to the Middle East have become a customary fixture in the boxing calendar, and the region is jostling for position with many of the traditional venues in the West. Diriyah is a location in keeping with the contrived nature of the contest. There is incontrovertible opportunism in the construction of this fight.
Jake Paul, who first became famous for his YouTube videos and is now 6-0 (4kos) as a professional, and Tommy Fury, half-brother of current World Heavyweight Champion Tyson, and 8-0 in the paid ranks, meet in a bout that will draw phenomenal interest and offers betting opportunities too. Although the odds on betting apps are narrow and therefore challenging across the markets.
Neither fighter merits the notoriety or the purses on the basis of their proficiency between the ropes, but Paul and Fury’s profile with Generation Z is such that interest is high and spreading beyond that demographic and the conventional boundaries of a sport with contracting media exposure.
As with all battles anticipated by fans, even this gargoyle of a fixture, the journey to the first bell has been long and arduous. Twice previously dates have been set and anticipation built only for Fury to withdraw. A prolonged timeline entirely in keeping with the way of things in the modern age. But as the old idiom instructs, ‘there is no such thing as bad publicity’. Interest in the pairing has grown, the narrative has been elaborated by the intervening delays and it has now begun to enjoy an inverted transcendence.
To explain, boxing is often pursuant of the casual fan as their mass creates revenue the diehard fans, for all their devotion, cannot match. Jake Paul v Tommy Fury has turned that on its head. It started life in the minds of the masses. The YouTube boxing phenomenon meets the ‘real’ boxing world, as far as Tommy Fury, the body beautiful, reality star, represents the troubled old sport. That was the premise. Sneered at by most, but as the fight grows closer, interest continues to evolve and, crucially, grow. Traditionalists are being frog marched into the fray and the action on US betting apps is likely to reflect that.
Whether clever scheduling or merely serendipity, the bout is the highest-profile matchup across the whole weekend. Boxing writers are now snatching at the offer of column inches for coverage of the fight like a Dickensian orphan offered a bowl of gruel. The other omnipresent harbourers of nonsense; the video and phone camera mob, insist fight figures submit an opinion in the knowledge any content featuring Jake Paul is platinum click bait for the TikTok dependent.
Typically, in preview it is possible to scroll through the evidence of a fighter’s career and discern tangible exhibits as to the fighters’ strengths and weaknesses. These are the factors, along with height, weight and reach, form, fitness and activity that help inform a prediction.
It may be a solitary flaw that determines an opinion; there may be common opponents or stylistic clashes to contemplate too. As British Middleweight, Denzel Bentley acknowledged when working as a pundit on the preceding weekend when asked what either fighter’s weakness was: “they both have too many weaknesses to list. Enjoy it for what it is; two novices having a go.”
Paul is the marginal favourite, 21/25 the best at the time of writing with 4/5 more commonly available with the leading sportsbooks. As the bigger attraction there is inherent protection in this outcome, i.e. in the event of competitive rounds, Paul could be favoured from an unrecognised subconscious bias. If you’ve concluded that the career professional, Fury, will win one way or another, 7/5 is available for the bolder with some UK betting sites.
At first glance, there is valuable, if unspectacular returns available on a Fury win. He holds a more legitimate claim to being a professional fighter after all. This is his fifth calendar year as a professional, and he began boxing as a youth. His professional opposition has been modest to laughable over the four plus years since his debut.
None of the eight have climbed between the ropes with the technique, power or desire required to compete in the hardest sport of all. His resume is incredibly weak with all but one opponent having a woefully negative record themselves. The fact he has only boxed eight times in those four years also suggest the appetite to progress isn’t strong. This is the nub of the criticism lodged against the 23-year-old, that he too is merely playing at boxing. Using his family name to garner interest in a broader public profile with no discernible career plan beyond paydays like this one.
Study of those eight fights of Fury will reveal a chaotic, uber-aggressive style. He does have fast hands and enjoys throwing them in combinations while wildly exaggerated foot movement racing him to and fro in the ring. His all-round technique has massive flaws, as most novice professionals would – particularly those who only boxed a dozen times as an amateur – but he throws punches correctly, power unknown, and he doesn’t fold if a glove lands on his chin.
There is a degree of competence in his output, and he throws lots of punches. This hand speed could startle Paul, who has boxed ageing MMA fighters in the main, none of whom punched in combination or with the speed of Fury. He likes to set up right hands to the body particularly. Either fighter to be knocked down in rounds 1 or 2 can be backed at 7/2 with some USA sports betting sites.
The ability to absorb a power shot is also a key battleground in this fight, although evidence of durability is hard to collect given the inactivity of both participants and the weakness of the foes faced. Jake Paul is sturdier in physique, while Fury is built toward a more aesthetic goal but neither of them have encountered a crisis in their careers to date.
One inescapable fact, which can impact a fighter’s performance is the readiness for the enormity of the event. Paul is a veteran of bigger events and accustomed to the attention and pressure that accompanies them. He knows half the audience want to see him knocked out. He is unfazed. This is unknown territory to one degree for Fury. Can he handle the pressure of fight week, the cameras, the questions and the large crowd in Saudi Arabia?
The fight could be won or lost in the anxiety the spotlight creates. True, Fury has been immersed in the shadows of his brother and cousin’s careers. He has been closer to events like this than the typical 8-0 novice. He will have experienced figures around him too. Pride, this second-hand exposure to the big time, and the instinct of his name should be enough to minimise the risk of Fury freezing down to negligible.
There is unquestionably pressure on him as the ‘boxer’ to prove the natural ordering of things remains intact – someone who boxed first as a 10-year-old and has been in professional gyms for most of his adult life should be well set for a career-best performance.
However, Paul has been denying the conventions for a long time. His career reinvention as a professional athlete is commendable, and he takes the pursuit of progress for himself very seriously. If Tommy Fury has taken this challenge lightly, he may be faced with a strong punching, determined and durable opponent he did not expect.
Odds on a distance fight are available with the best betting sites with the Over/Under seemingly set at 6.5 rounds. This may drift or tighten as the week unfolds. There is some value in the 7/5 available on the Under 6.5 rounds. Both men are expected to be eager to progress, and the antagonism between them does appear genuine. This often leads to fast starts and ramps up the prospect of a stoppage outcome.
Jake Paul is 27/10 to win at any time by KO/TKO/DQ. I’m not sure Paul can get Fury out of there. Fury is, in the main, elusive due to his reflex and speed, but he does leave his chin available on his rushed flurries. Whether Jake Paul has the technique or ability to capitalise is another point.
A flash knockdown is plausible given how open their defences are, Fury perhaps more so. I’m proposing to back the under 6.5 rounds at Evens and take the special Both Fighters to be knocked down and either fighter wins by KO/TKO at 15/2.
Modest investment, but the body of information available in their novice careers make any degree of certainty elusive.
BT Sport Box Office will broadcast the fight via a pay-per-view in the UK on Sunday, February 26. Viewers in the US can watch via ESPN+ PPV, while those in Brazil and Canada can view on DAZN. Main event ring walks are expected to be around 17:00 ET.