TAMPA, Florida -- Jake Paul's ascent in the world of boxing isn't stopping any time soon. Actually, it might just be getting started.
Paul, the YouTube star-turned-prizefighter, knocked out former UFC champion Tyron Woodley at 2:12 of the sixth round in a rematch Saturday night at Amalie Arena. In what was a lackluster fight before the finish, Paul walloped Woodley with a huge right hand -- and Woodley was out cold on contact, face-planting to the mat.
"This is as real as it f---ing gets, just like my right hand," Paul said after the win.
The bout was contracted for 192 pounds over eight rounds. Paul beat Woodley in the first fight via split decision on Aug. 29 in Paul's hometown of Cleveland. Saturday's bout had a clause that if Woodley knocked out his foe he would win an extra $500,000. But Paul was the one with the spectacular stoppage victory.
Woodley replaced Paul's original opponent, Tommy Fury, the half brother of heavyweight champ Tyson Fury, on just two weeks' notice when Tommy Fury withdrew due to a broken rib and a chest infection.
"This guy is a legend," Paul said of Woodley. "I respect him for taking this fight on two weeks' notice, because Tommy Fury is a b----."
Paul dealt with some adversity in the fight, getting cut on an errant elbow in the third round. It was a fairly big gash on his forehead, over his right eye, and blood was trickling down his face the rest of the fight.
Paul (5-0) made his name as a social media influencer, first on Vine then YouTube. He owns pro boxing knockouts over YouTuber AnEsonGib, NBA veteran Nate Robinson and former MMA champion Ben Askren. Paul, 24, made his pro boxing debut in January 2020, and he has now ventured into the promotional game. His Most Valuable Promotions company promoted the card, with Showtime distributing on pay-per-view.
"I've knocked out every single person that I've fought," Paul said.
Woodley (0-2) is considered one of the best MMA welterweights of all time. The Ferguson, Missouri, native held the UFC welterweight title from 2016 to 2019. Woodley, 39, was released by the UFC in March following a fourth straight loss to top 170-pound competition.
Round 6: Paul stops Woodley with a right hand to the head. Fight over!
Round 5: Another round, more tie-ups than on the Long Island Expressway at rush hour the day before a holiday. But Paul seemed to be more aggressive. Paul 10-9. Woodley 48-47.
Round 4: Honestly, this round feels like it shouldn't go to anyone, but Woodley might have done more on the whole. Woodley 10-9. Woodley 39-37.
Round 3: Woodley had a strong flurry in the first minute of the round, which should have been enough to win an otherwise lethargic round. Paul got a cut on the forehead with what was called an accidental elbow by the referee. Woodley 10-9. Woodley 29-28.
Round 2: Paul appeared to land the best shot of the round, but Woodley seemed a little bit more active. 10-9 Woodley. 19-19.
Round 1: Close round with a lot of clinching. Felt like Paul -- barely -- was the more aggressive fighter. 10-9 Paul.
Williams beats Gore by split decision
Make no mistake, though: It was a legitimate -- and entertaining -- fight.
Williams defeated Gore via split decision (38-37, 37-38, 40-35). On Thursday at the prefight news conference, Williams said NBA players have the stigma of being soft. He disproved that against Gore with a gritty performance.
The bout was contested at 215 pounds over four rounds with 12-ounce gloves. The commission ruled it an exhibition on Friday when it was originally scheduled to be a pro fight. The bout will not go on either man's pro boxing record.
Postfight reaction: Frank Gore had the crowd from the beginning -- massive cheers when he walked into the arena, when he walked to the ring and when he was introduced -- and in boxing, sometimes that's a large part of the battle in a fight like this.
And Gore, one of the best running backs in NFL history, looked for a little while like he could fight. But then, it seemed, the tiredness came for both him and his heavyweight opponent, former NBA All-Star Deron Williams, in a four-round exhibition that Williams won by split decision.
In the middle of the second round, Williams pushed Gore into the ropes, forcing the referee to stop the action. Seconds (in fight time) later, Gore did the same to Williams. It was that type of fight, one between two guys who didn't seem particularly skilled in boxing but wanted to, well, fight.
Give them credit. It was entertaining. Gore and Williams threw big punches. And it's hard to jump into a boxing ring. Both Gore and Williams did better than for NBAer Nate Robinson -- the bar, of course, was very low -- but the heavier gloves (12 ounces) might have helped. There were actual punches connected -- more than could be said for Robinson when he barely fought Jake Paul.
But there's a reality about this too. This was intriguing as a one-off fight. It was different and oddly compelling. The first round, at least, had some interest as an actual boxing match. By the third round, it felt somewhat more like a clinchfest, with some wild punches thrown in. Which is why this was a heavyweight fight not worth putting on again.
It was enjoyable for a couple of rounds. After that, it looked like two guys heading toward middle age -- Williams is 37, Gore 38 -- who did something fun one time that probably doesn't need to happen many more times. -- Rothstein.
Serrano dominates Gutierrez, sets up fight with Taylor
Amanda Serrano accomplished what she needed to Saturday night. She took care of her last opponent of 2021 -- possibly her last opponent before a potential megafight against undisputed lightweight champion Katie Taylor -- to set up much of what she hopes to come.
In a 100-90, 99-91, 99-90 unanimous decision win over Miriam Gutierrez at lightweight, Serrano sent a clear message that she remains one of the best fighters in the world.
Serrano moved up in weight for the fight, hiring a nutritionist for the first time and continually enjoying chocolate milkshakes -- and enduring eating carrots, among her least favorite foods -- to prepare for the fight. She also sparred with fighters who weighed far more than the 135 pounds she was fighting at -- 150- and-160-pounders -- in an attempt to get ready for Gutierrez.
Postfight reaction: It's all close to clear now. Before the fight, Amanda Serrano knew Katie Taylor had handled her part. All Serrano needed to do was take care of Miriam Gutierrez and she would be able to start really looking more at her end of it.
And after a dominant unanimous decision win over Gutierrez, Serrano can now solely focus on the possibility of facing Taylor in a bout that could be considered the best in the annals of women's boxing, a game-changing, history-making fight.
Both fighters have said they want to face each other. Jake Paul, one of Serrano's promoters, said he is seeking a seven-figure payday -- something Taylor also indicated to ESPN. And it might happen at the mecca of boxing, Madison Square Garden.
Against Gutierrez, Serrano showed she might be the most devastating fighter in women's boxing, one who continually delivers punch after punch, combination after combination, with no off button.
Serrano has never faced a fighter quite like Taylor, but in 2022 -- thanks to a dominant performance on Saturday and a crowd inside the arena that cheered Serrano's every move -- the boxing world might just find out. -- Rothstein.
Paro edges Alamo to stay unbeaten
It was, throughout, a very close fight. Liam Paro and Yomar Alamo often moved all throughout the ring, attacking each other, being crafty and smart with their decisions to attack. And it showed in a very close 10-round junior welterweight fight that Paro won by split decision 95-94, 94-95, 96-93.
Paro (22-0, 13 KO) rallied from a rough first round. An early knockdown by Alamo (20-1-1, 12 KO) off a nice left hook-straight right combination capped a strong first round from the fighter from Puerto Rico; but it also might have settled Paro, the Australian boxer making his United States debut.
Paro became the more aggressive fighter over the next handful of rounds, perhaps setting him up for the rest of the match. Alamo appeared to be stronger in the final two rounds -- but it was not enough in a tight fight.
Paro landed 19% of his total punches and 38% of his power punches, according to CompuBox, to cap off an undefeated three-fight year. -- Rothstein.
Avila defeats Taylor in battle of MMA fighters
Avila beat Taylor via majority decision (78-74, 77-75, 76-76), outlasting Taylor with more output in the later part of an eight-round grudge match. Avila is affiliated with Nate Diaz's team. Taylor is a sparring partner of Jake Paul as well as a training partner of Bellator featherweight champion A.J. McKee, who was in Taylor's corner.
Taylor went to the body early and had success with hard combinations. But midway through the fight, Taylor started to run out of steam, and Avila started coming on -- in typical Team Diaz fashion. In the fifth round, Avila landed some nifty combos and also went to the body. He hurt Taylor with a left hook off the break. There was more of that in the sixth and seventh.
Avila had his best round in the eighth, wobbling Taylor with a right hand and following with a flurry. Taylor was able to survive to the end of the round and fight.
Avila (1-1), a UFC veteran, picked up his first pro boxing victory. The 28-year-old from Stockton, California, is 8-9 in MMA and on a two-fight winning streak. Taylor (2-3) has dropped two straight in boxing. He fell to Tommy Fury on the first Jake Paul vs. Tyron Woodley card on Aug. 29 via unanimous decision. Taylor, a 32-year-old Los Angeles resident, is 7-5 in MMA. -- Raimondi.
Love returns with decision win
J'Leon Love raised his hands before the scores were even announced because he knew. Throughout his eight-round cruiserweight fight against Marcus Oliveira, Love brought the pressure and landed combination after combination, leading to a 77-75, 79-73, 78-74 unanimous decision victory.
Love (24-3-1, 13 KO), of Inkster, Michigan, had Oliveira (28-6-1, 22 KO) against the ropes and, it appeared, close to dropping him in the fifth round. Oliveira survived but from that point on likely needed a KO to win the fight -- a stoppage he never came close to getting.
The bout, Love's first in over two years, stopped a two-fight losing streak. It also snapped an otherwise successful 2021 for Oliveira, who won both of his previous matches in 2021. Prior to this year, Oliveira hadn't won a fight since 2015. -- Rothstein.
Estela dominates, wins unanimous decision
Jeovanny Estela moved better from the opening bell and for four rounds, and he continuously put a small barrage on Chris Rollins. So, it was no surprise Estela won a unanimous decision in the four-round junior middleweight bout that was the opener to the card.
Estela, from Orlando, Florida, appeared to be on the verge of knocking down Rollins (5-3-1, 4 KO), from Charlottesville, Virginia, multiple times during the fight. But Rollins -- the more experienced fighter -- held on in each round. But it was clear from the jump that Estela (6-0, 2 KO) was the stronger fighter. -- Rothstein.