In this article, we are going to have a look at the Jake Paul vs Ben Askren odds and betting picks.
Jake Paul can expect to face the toughest opponent of his brief professional boxing career when he takes on former MMA champion Ben Askren as a somewhat surprising betting favourite in Atlanta on April 17.
The 24-year-old has quickly claimed victory in his first two pro fights but has yet to go toe-to-toe with a professional fighter of any kind in the squared circle. Indeed, Paul’s first two trips to the ring have come against opponents with no previous fighting experience. Paul made his pro boxing debut three years ago, facing off against fellow YouTube personality AnEsonGib in a six-round clash in January of last year, which he ended in just 138 seconds with a TKO victory.
In between time well spent getting into Twitter spats with celebrities like pop star Zayn Malik, Paul found himself a new opponent, former NBA star Nate Robinson. A force on the hardwood, Robinson claimed victory in the NBA Slam Dunk Contests on three occasions during his decade-long NBA career. Unfortunately, his skill with the rock did not translate to the ring, with the 36-year-old surviving just 84 seconds before being knocked out cold by the much younger Paul.
Paul Emerging as Master Promoter
Paul’s first two fights have certainly helped him line his pockets, promote his various ventures, and vastly raise his visibility. And if you have any doubts as to his confidence in his ability to continue to dominate in the ring, all you have to do is ask.
In his trademark loudmouth style, Paul has made it clear to anyone who would listen that he is well on his way to becoming the “greatest prizefighter in the sport”, claiming that the likes of former UFC champions Michael Bisping and Conor McGregor have been among those who called him out in the wake of his speedy victory over Robinson.
And while the idea of ageing professional fighters thinking about a return to action to fight an obnoxious internet celebrity may seem ludicrous, it suddenly makes plenty of sense considering how much money may be on the line. Both Paul and Robinson reportedly made just $600 each from the purse in their battle. But with last November’s card, which featured Mike Tyson’s long-awaited return, reportedly attracting over a million pay-per-view buys, Paul is likely not exaggerating when he claims to have earned millions of dollars off the fight.
Askren Ending Brief Retirement in Boxing Debut
That would also explain a lot of the thinking behind Askren’s decision to end his nearly two-year retirement from combat sports and make an unlikely comeback as a professional boxer. The 36-year-old out of Cedar Rapids, Iowa enjoyed a largely successful decade-long professional MMA career that has featured multiple championship wins.
“Funky” rose to the top of the Bellator welterweight division while earning the win in each of his first 12 pro fights. He carried that success over to ONE Championship, where he wasted no time claiming the ONE welterweight title, which he successfully defended on three occasions, twice by knockout, before joining the UFC in March 2019. However, Askren’s meteoric success and the unblemished record would quickly be stopped during his brief stay in the world’s leading MMA promotion.
Funky Fails to Fulfill UFC Promise
Askren earned an opening-round victory over UFC legend Robbie Lawler in his UFC debut at UFC 235, paying out on -230 odds. But he subsequently made history for all the wrong reasons in his next fight, suffering a stunning knockout loss to Jorge Masvidal just five seconds into their tilt at UFC 239. Askren went on to make one more trip to the octagon before announcing his retirement from mixed martial arts, a third-round submission loss to Demian Maia at UFC Fight Night 162 as -160 chalk.
While Askren ultimately failed to live up to the promise in his highly anticipated UFC debut and has been away from combat sports since October 2019, many sports betting fans have still been asking themselves why he is pegged as an underdog against a relative amateur like Paul. The better question to ask maybe, how will a wrestler and grappler like Askren fare in a boxing match, where his wrestling and grappling skills are likely to provide him with no advantage?
Askren Excels at Wrestling, but Can He Box?
A two-time NCAA Division I wrestling national champion, and a four-time All-American, Askren has built his career on his dominating grappling skills. Funky has long been effective at bringing opponents to the mat and wearing down opponents with ground strikes. Of his 19 wins as a pro-MMA fighter, six have come by submission, all inside five minutes. And his seven wins by decision have typically come in clashes fought largely on the mat.
However, Askren also sports impressive punching power, as demonstrated by his six career victories by KO or TKO, including a trio of wins in the opening round. Notwithstanding his stunning loss to Masvidal, Askren is likely better positioned to stand up to Paul’s punches than Gib or Robinson. He also appears to be taking this fight seriously, if recent videos showing off his training regime are to be believed.
Love him or hate him, Paul deserves huge credit for his early success in the squared circle, and his ability to successfully promote his venture into the Sweet Science. But he is likely to get a dose of pugilistic reality against his vastly more experienced opponent this time around, and will likely have to match Masvidal’s speedy finish to have any chance against Funky.