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I felt like writing about Jake Paul. His fight on the undercard of Mike Tyson vs. Roy Jones Jr. saw Jake Paul knocked out NBA slam dunk champion, Nate Robinson (I have no idea why that was given as his accomplishments as a boxer). But here it is: Jake Paul’s improvement from Ali Eson Gib to Nate Robinson.
You may not like Jake Paul and his YouTube antics. But as a boxer, he has improved from his professional debut to the second pro fight with Robinson. Paul has been taking boxing very seriously and it’s apparent by the improvements made from AnEnsonGib to now. Today, I will take a look at what Paul has done better from his first to second fight and where he should look to improve going forward.
Jake Paul Becoming More Comfortable
The Nate Robinson fight showed a new version of Paul. In his debut fight, he walked out with a wide stance, which is perfectly okay, and had his right hand glued to his chin, again something that is fine. But that was about it. There were no mind games, no trickery. Just jabs and sloppy lead hooks. Against Robinson, Paul came out and had his hands moving, he stepped in for a feint and draw out a punch from Robinson. Paul’s right hand was also no longer glued to his chin and played part in the gameplan.
While Jake Paul is much improved, one major hole in his game is off the jab, and if not fixed soon, could be detrimental. When a boxer is throwing a jab, it’s common practice for the lead hand to return to a defensive position in anticipation for a counter. In Paul’s case, when he throws a combo off the jab, he will load up on his power shot, like a hook or a cross, he drops his lead hand. If not fixed, Paul will be met with the same fate as Robinson and get caught on a drop back and right cross. While he does occasionally return the jab to a defensive position, Paul needs to do it 100% of the time.
Jake Paul also became more comfortable moving around as well. Against AnEnsonGib, Paul had the right idea circling away from Gib’s power hand, even though Gib’s square and incorrect stance posed little threat, but his footwork was plodding and stiff. You can see that as Gib comes towards Paul, he does start to move to not be cornered, but his footwork is just sort of trudging along.
The circumstances against Robinson were a bit different, however. Robinson was not intent on staying on the outside like Gib was and blitzed in any time there was a lull in the action. But here you can see Paul’s improvement with his footwork. He steps in with the jab and as Robinson fires back, his back foot moves left, pivoting on his lead leg, opening up a new angle. You can even see Robinson punch white Paul was and not where he is. While he’s not Vasyl Lomachenko, this adjustment in footwork is the building blocks to becoming a better fighter. One small critique would be for Paul to take advantage of his position here and fire off a shot or two on the opening he created.
Jake Paul and the Jab
Speaking of the jab, Paul relied on it a lot against Gib. Just because he threw the jab doesn’t mean he was doing it correctly. Of course, the jab is the most basic punch in boxing, but used right it is an effective weapon. A proper jab can keep an opponent at bay, set up bigger shots and combinations, and more.
The key to a good jab is generating enough power where your opponent respects it and isn’t willing to trade with you. Generating power also comes from the back foot. To get such power, a boxer must step in with the lead leg and push off with the back foot as they punch.
In the boomerang GIF above, you can see Jake Paul step in slightly and throw the jab but he does not push off his back foot. This is well meaning and shows that he’s paying attention, but it will not gain any respect out of an adversary.
In contrast, against Robinson, Jake Paul has a defined step in and pushes off his back foot quite well. While it is over the top and shouldn’t be used this drastically every time, Paul displays understanding that a respected jab is important in boxing.
Against Robinson, Paul showed improvement in adjustments in the game plan and placement of his shots. Against Gib, it was straight forward: bludgeon this guy. But, with Robinson, Paul came to box. And to be fair, Robinson didn’t give him a chance to do so. But, Jake Paul did a great job of working with what he was given and, when what he originally planned didn’t work, adjusted to get the quick finish.
In the knock down near the end of the first round, Robinson rushes in and throws two lazy lead hooks that aren’t even close to being near the mark. Off the back hook, Paul comes full stop, pushes off the back foot and comes over the top and catches Nate Robinson behind the ear, scoring the knockdown. Against Gib, there were few slips and dips for Paul to work with.
After being blitzed by Robinson for the first round and some change, he starts to slow down. This starts to give Jake Paul some room to work. In the second knockdown, Paul pokes Robinson with the jab and anticipates his jab. Robinson makes the mistake I talked about with Paul and doesn’t get his lead hand back in a defensive position and Paul slips the jab and comes over the top again. What’s done well here is Paul’s anticipation. Jake Paul knows that Robinson has been coming the same way all night and knows he probably will now. He makes the minor adjustment to draw him out and gets the big shot to put him down again.
The grand finale features Paul knowing that Robinson is hurt and he stalks the finish without getting crazy. Paul steps in for the jab, a tool he’s used well this fight when available, comes with a cross that misses and then throws a rear uppercut that almost lands perfectly. Paul once again anticipates Robinson coming forward and attempts to frame the hook. While he doesn’t get his arm extended all the way, Paul gets the short hook off and skips the wild punch from Robinson, putting him to sleep.
Conscious Incompetence to Conscious Competence
In almost any trade, there’s a transition of mindset often taught. Weather it’s combat sports or sales, every expert goes through the same mental transformation.
First is unconscious incompetence. When you start out on your first day of training or learning anything, you don’t know what you don’t know. I remember my first Jiu Jitsu class. After getting caught in a kimura over and over, I knew I didn’t know how to defend a kimura. It was at that point I moved to conscious incompetence, which is where Jake Paul is mainly at.
But, Paul is on the verge of becoming consciously competent. He shows signs of knowing what to do but it’s just not automatic just yet. It’s apparent that Paul enjoys boxing and is taking it extremely serious. Even Paul knows where he’s at skill-wise, and that’s a good sign. When asked if he can box with the top boxers, he admits to not being there yet.
While the transition to conscious competence could take years, once Jake Paul is there, he will begin his journey to unconscious incompetence, where everything is automatic. At this point, there is no quit and he will always be making micro-improvements until he’s done boxing.
Jake Paul is not a world beater right now by any stretch. But his growth from his debut to second fight is promising and should he keep improving, he can become quite the boxer. As he gets better, his legion of followers will be able to see improved boxing and better boxing matches as well. This brings more eyes to boxing, which is great for the sport, weather the purists like it or not.
As for what’s next, Dillon Danis and Ben Askren are smart game planning. Danis and Askren aren’t great stand up fighters. But what they will bring is a patience that Paul hasn’t seen boxing yet. Askren and Danis may not have boxed in the past, but they’ve been in fist fights. They won’t succumb to the pressure of being in a boxing match like AnEnsonGib and Nate Robinson did, testing Paul on a slightly higher cerebral level.