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Woodley challenges Paul to rematch after YouTuber wins split-decision fight
The 24-year-old led from the first round to claim a deserved win in Cleveland
A rematch between Jake Paul and Tyron Woodley could be on the cards after the YouTuber-turned-boxer preserved his unbeaten professional with a dramatic split-decision victory.
In a cagey opening, the 24-year-old landed the majority of the early shots as the five-time former UFC Welterweight Champion kept his distance in the first half of the contest.
Woodley then came out of his shell more, causing Paul to tumble into the ropes during a dramatic fourth round.
Despite noticeably flagging, Paul recovered from the knockdown as Woodley's cautious approach in the early exchanges came back to bite him.
The scorecards read 77-75, 75-77, 78-74 in a split decision in favour of Paul.
Paul later insisted he would grant if Woodley got an "I love Jake Paul" tattoo, a forfeit that had been shaken on in the build-up should the 39-year-old lose.
As for whether Paul would fight Tommy Fury next, the cruiserweight was unsure. But more on that later...
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Paul vs Woodley Full Fight Recap
It was apt that an event this unusual was held at a venue called Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
Despite being 3-0 as a boxer prior to Paul’s homecoming , those wins came against fellow YouTuber AnEsonGib, professional basketball player Nate Robinson and former MMA fighter Ben Askren in April this year. None of these men had boxed professionally before – or since.
However, many had suspected that Woodley would be a different kettle of fish. Despite having lost his last four UFC bouts, his success in the sport speaks for itself and the 39-year-old was expected to be a more mobile and dangerous proposition than Askren.
He may have been brash in the weeks, days and hours before the fight, eating chicken fingers after the face-off "because Tyron's a chicken", goading the older man by saying he would be sent into retirement and sowing the seed of doubt in the veteran's mind with forfeits about getting a Paul tattoo and donating his entire purse to a charity of Paul's choice if he loses.
But, as the ringwalk moment arrived, a steely focus came across Paul's face. This was a challenge the like of which he had not faced before.
Both competitors were feeling each other out, but Paul's flamboyant personality came to the fore in the second round as he taunted Woodley after dodging one of his right hands, drawing laughter from the crowd in the process.
A three-punch combination in the same round showed he could go on the offensive too.
Paul often used body feints to unsettle his opponent and the pair squared up at the end of round three after Paul felt he had been caught late by the Missouri man.
Woodley needed to unload and he did he so inside the final minute of the fourth round, connecting well with a series of big right hands in a matter of seconds - more than he'd managed in the entire fight up to that point as he drove the stumbling 24-year-old onto the ropes.
Nevertheless, Paul came back, catching Woodley with a left hook and licking his gloves theatrically as he sensed victory was drawing closer.
Paul used his clinches to good effect, killing any small momentum changes in the latter stages in a fight that had gone on far longer than any he'd taken part in previously.
He then produced an explosive one-two combination that momentarily had Woodley disorientated and then landed a big right at the end of the seventh to put him three points ahead of the commentators’ scorecards.
Woodley needed to throw caution to the wind, but he continued to hang back as Paul saw out the remaining seconds.
Both fighters celebrated at the final bell and the split-decision announcement only heightened the tension.
It was generally agreed though that Paul had landed the biggest blows and so it was no surprise when referee George Nichols raised his arm aloft.
In his post-fight interview with Ariel Helwani, Paul admitted: "Cleveland, what’s good? It was a tougher fight than I expected.
"My legs felt weird since the locker room. He’s a good fighter and came in shape. He’s a hall of famer. All respect to him. Apologies for any trash talk. There are no hard feelings."
Paul's next fight?
Paul's attempt to diffuse the pre-fight tension soon went out the window when Woodley was asked to reflect on how he felt things had gone.
Unsurprisingly, the defeated man felt he was harshly treated: "I came in great shape because I knew he could take a punch.
"I want a rematch. I landed more power shots. You’re the one who got wobbled," he claimed, directly addressing Paul.
Paul shot back: “If you get the tattoo ‘I love Jake Paul’, run it back.”
After some hesitation, and with older brother Logan standing behind Jake, Woodley sheepishly agreed.
Paul had moments earlier given an evasive answer to the question of who he would face next, with Fury and UFC star Nate Diaz among those mentioned.
Paul was non-committal: "Honestly, we’ll see. I think I might need to chill out for a second. I’ll get back in the gym when I’m ready."
Tommy Fury defeats Anthony Taylor by unanimous decision
Fury may not have lived up to his prediction that his opponent Anthony Taylor "was getting knocked spark out", but the 22-year-old was in control throughout his US debut, using his jab and superior reach to good effect while not being afraid to throw his attack with his right hook.
Taylor’s footwork was cumbersome and the 32-year-old tripped over in the third round, rarely landing in a contest that became more ragged towards the finish as the MMA specialist resorted to clinching to slow the younger man’s momentum, so it was no surprise when all three judges awarded the bout 40-36 in Fury’s favour in a four-round fight.
Afterwards, a bullish Fury reiterated his challenge to Paul after highlighting the fact that Taylor, who is Paul’s sparring partner, rarely troubled him despite Tyson's younger brother admitting that he wasn't at his best.
He said: “He has no excuses not to take me on – let’s fight!"
Daniel Dubois defeats Jiuseppe Cusumano by knockout
There were many in the fight game that feared the manner of Dubois' defeat to Joe Joyce last November could permanently scar him mentally, but the Greenwich-born heavyweight responded emphatically in June with a second-round knockout of Bogdan Dinu.
Like Fury, he was making his US debut, facing Jiuseppe Cusumano, who had 19 wins and three losses on his record.
Dubois' explosive punching power proved too much though, with the 23-year-old going in for the kill, landing successive brutal shots to wrap up the win with around 50 seconds of the fight remaining.
Despite Dubois saying WBA heavyweight champion Trevor Bryan was on his radar, BT Sport studio pundit John Fury advised against taking that fight, saying that Dubois needed four or five more years to build himself up after the Joyce loss before having a crack at a world title.
Amanda Serrano defeats Yamileth Mercado by unanimous decision
Montana Love defeats Ivan Baranchyk (retired)
In the highest-quality fight on paper, Amanda Serrano was defending her WBC, WBO and IBO featherweight titles, while Yamileth Mercado was stepping up from super bantamweight, where she holds the WBC.
The southpaw didn’t have it all her own way in the first round, with Mercado going toe-to-toe with her more experienced adversary in the opening two rounds, although the 32-year-old did start to edge ahead at the end of the third round and seemed the more composed, calmly mixing jabs and combination punches to the body as the Mexican started to suffer.
Serrano has never been floored but has produced 30 knockouts in her career and her confidence was on full display as she unloaded with a flurry of punches at the end of the seventh. To her credit though, Mercado kept plugging away and gave as good as she got at times.
However, Serrano landed some more solid shots and visibly drew blood from her opponent’s left cheek as Mercado also sported a black eye.
The momentum continued in the 10th and two big shots saw Mercado wobble into the ropes, with Serrano sealing a 97-93, 98-92, 99-91 win to extend her record to 41 wins from 43 fights.
Earlier on in the evening, former IBF light-welterweight champion Ivan Baranchyk went up against Montana Love.
Montana Love was putting his unbeaten record on the line and looking to announce himself to a significant audience, but Baranchyk caught him with some big combination punches early on.
The Cleveland native gave his fans something to shout about in the second round as Baranchyk started to miss more of his shots.
However, Baranchyk spotted his chance and started swinging, with Love becoming noticeably more wobbly in the last minute of the third round before rallying as Baranchyk lost his footing.
After Love enjoyed some more success, Baranchyk unloaded, with Love complaining that his opponent was striking him around the back of the head as the pair exchanged dirty looks at the end of the third, with the southpaw believing that the Belarusian had carried on after the bell.
Love then caught Baranchyk with a left hand and then beat his chest and raised his arms aloft, with his left hook again reaping its awards as Baranchyk had to absorb the power and had the final say of round five with a terrific left uppercut before being pulled up for a shot round the back of the head near the end of the sixth.
Love took charge in the seventh and Baranchyk took a big swing and a miss before losing his footing momentarily in the last minute of the round and after a devastating left-right combo from Love, Baranchyk’s corner pulled him from the contest despite the 28-year-old getting back up after a count of eight.
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