CLEVELAND -- Those hoping for Jake Paul's boxing demise at the hands of a big puncher will be sorely disappointed.
The YouTube sensation-turned-prizefighter outpointed Tyron Woodley via split decision (77-75, 75-77, 78-74) in the main event of a boxing card Sunday night here at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse. Woodley is a former UFC welterweight champion with several highlight-reel knockouts on his MMA résumé.
Woodley wobbled Paul with a big right hand in the fourth round, but Paul was able to survive that round and beat Woodley over the rest of the bout.
Paul has been a polarizing figure, leveraging his millions of social media followers into what he is hoping to be a legitimate boxing career. Woodley came in as the more experienced combat sports athlete, with 27 professional MMA fights over a 12-year career plus being a two-time Division I wrestling All-American at the University of Missouri. However, this was Woodley's pro boxing debut.
The bout was contested at a catchweight of 190 pounds, the heaviest Woodley has ever competed at in his combat sports career.
Paul (4-0) was facing the toughest test of his burgeoning boxing career on Sunday. In his previous bout, the Cleveland-area native knocked out former UFC fighter, MMA champion and Olympic wrestler Ben Askren in the first round. Paul, 24, become one of the catalysts of this new, novelty genre of boxing with his second-round knockout of former NBA Slam Dunk champion Nate Robinson in November 2020, on the Mike Tyson vs. Roy Jones Jr. exhibition undercard.
Paul has said he vows to be the biggest name in boxing, though he has kind of turned combat sports on its head, headlining big-money events with a fraction of the experience of his boxing peers. He has a large following with the younger demographic, who have followed him since he was 17 years old on Vine, then YouTube and now TikTok and Instagram. He also starred on the Disney Channel show "Bizaardvark."
Woodley, 39, lost his last four fights in the UFC and finished up his contract in March with a first-round submission loss to Vicente Luque at UFC 260. Woodley is one of the best welterweight fighters in MMA history, accumulating four title defenses as 170-pound UFC champ and holding the belt from 2016 to 2019. Kamaru Usman defeated Woodley to win the UFC belt in March 2019.
Jake Paul wins by split decision (77-75, 78-74 and 75-77)
Round 8: Woodley probably took this round with some decent right hands, but it likely will not be enough. Paul looked dog tired at the end. Both did, really. Woodley 10-9; 77-75 Paul.
Round 7: Paul's big right hand with less than 10 seconds left might have stolen the round. The shot connected, and sweat flew off Woodley's face and body. Woodley was doing well up until that point. But he really needs more in this final round. Paul 10-9; 68-65 Paul.
Round 6: Both guys looking tired now. Paul landed some combinations early in the round that might have given him the edge. Woodley has been moving forward the whole fight but hasn't been as effective as Paul, aside from the one big right. Woodley might need a finish. Paul 10-9; 58-56 Paul.
Round 5: Very close round. Paul might have stolen it late with a combination and a left hook right at the bell. The early part of the round was good for Woodley, who landed a combo that snapped Paul's head back. Paul 10-9; 48-47 Paul.
Round 4: Woodley hurt Paul with a big right hand. It was the most significant blow of the fight so far. Paul did OK early in the round, but a clear round for Woodley. Paul was legit wobbled. Woodley 10-9; 38-38.
Round 3: Best round so far for Paul. He got to Woodley with an uppercut-left hand combination, plus a body shot and left hook earlier in the round. Woodley landed a right hand at the bell. Paul 10-9; 29-28 Paul.
Round 2: Again, not a ton going on. Paul landed a pair of left hooks. Woodley landed a right to the body and a nice jab. Woodley did maybe a little more in that round. Woodley 10-9; 19-19.
Round 1: The crowd chanted "F--- Jake Paul!" at the start. Paul landed a jab and a mostly blocked combination. Woodley barely threw anything. Paul 10-9.
CLEVELAND IS JUMPING!! Should have flew back to the crib.— LeBron James (@KingJames) August 30, 2021
--Fight is underway ...
--Now it's Paul's turn. Jimmy Lennon Jr. calls him "a native son of Cleveland, Ohio," and the fans go wild.
--Ring announcer Jimmy Lennon Jr. is doing the intros; first is Woodley, who's still wearing headphones inside the ring. The referee is George Nichols.
--Tyron Woodley is already in the ring, Jake Paul is making his entrance wearing orange Grant gloves and orange trunks with LED lights with his name on them.
Come on Tyron please!!!!! @TWooodley— Daniel Cormier (@dc_mma) August 30, 2021
Amanda Serrano retains titles in one-sided victory over Yamileth Mercado
Amanda Serrano's stoppage streak is over. Her status as one of the very best female boxers on the planet? Still very much intact.
"The Real Deal" put on a clinical, relentless performance in a unanimous decision victory (97-93, 98-92, 99-91) over Yamileth Mercado in Sunday's co-main event. Serrano successfully defended her WBC and WBO titles with the win. She has won 27 straight fights, a streak that dates back to 2012.
ESPN has Serrano ranked as the No. 3 women's boxer in the world in its pound-for-pound rankings.
In the ninth round, Serrano opened up a nasty cut under Mercado's left eye, but Mercado remained game. Serrano's best round was the 10th and final one, when she blasted Mercado with a right hook and wobbled her against the ropes.
Mercado was never dropped and fired back with left hooks and right hands at times. But most of the fight was one-way traffic, with Serrano coming forward and throwing combination after combination and Mercado trying to evade.
Amanda Serrano is a mean body puncher ! I respect it 💪🏽— Andre S.O.G. Ward (@andreward) August 30, 2021
Serrano (41-1-1) had stopped three straight opponents coming into this fight. She has 30 career KOs and is known as one of the best women's knockout artists in boxing. Serrano, a 32-year-old from Brooklyn, is still hoping for a future fight with fellow pound-for-pound ranked fighter and undisputed lightweight champion Katie Taylor.
Mercado (18-3) had won six in a row prior to this bout. The 23-year-old Mexican fighter was making her debut in the United States.
Daniel Dubois overwhelms Joe Cusumano in first-round TKO
Daniel Dubois is officially back on a winning streak. The British heavyweight prospect knocked Joe Cusumano down three times early en route to a TKO victory at 2:10 of the first round, earning his second straight win.
"The greatest is still to come," Dubois said in his postfight interview.
Dubois slammed Cusumano with a big combination against the ropes to drop him the first time. Cusumano was able to recover, but Dubois landed an uppercut and then snuck a right hand in to drop Cusumano again. On the third drop, Dubois unleashed a flurry against the ropes and sent the visibly hurt Cusumano to the canvas once more. The referee didn't even start his count the third time around, immediately waving off the fight.
Dubois' (17-1, 16 KOs) back-to-back victories have come after he fell for the first time in his career, to Joe Joyce via KO in November. The 23-year-old fighting out of London beat Bogdan Dinu via second-round knockout in June. This was Dubois' United States debut.
"You don't get paid for overtime," Dubois said. "I want to fight for a world title. I want to fight the best. It's going to come soon. Whoever's next. I want to fight for a world title."
Cusumano (19-4), a 33-year-old Virginia native, had won four of his past five fights coming in.
Montana Love stops Ivan Baranchyk, stays unbeaten
Montana Love picked up a massive win in front of his hometown fans. With the crowd rocking after every combo and raining down "USA!" chants, Love triumphed over Ivan Baranchyk via TKO (corner stoppage) at 3:00 of the seventh round.
Love had all the momentum up to that point after a fairly even start to the bout, but the seventh round would be the tipping point. Love blasted away with a devastating shovel left hand as Baranchyk came in late in the seventh, dropping Baranchyk. Even though Baranchyk was able to answer the referee's 10 count as the clock ran out on Round 7, Baranchyk's corner stepped in and started peeling the tape off of Baranchyk's gloves, calling for an end to the fight.
"It's a dream come true," Love said in his postfight interview.
Coming in, ESPN had Baranchyk ranked No. 8 in the world among junior welterweight fighters. This was the biggest victory of Love's career.
Montana Love a beast 😳— Damian Lillard (@Dame_Lillard) August 30, 2021
Baranchyk should really not be fighting. His fight with Zepeda should have been his last. It's time !— Andre S.O.G. Ward (@andreward) August 30, 2021
Love, a southpaw, really started to take over in the fourth round, using that shovel left from odd angles to hurt Baranchyk. Love mixed that with a slick, one-two combo throughout.
Baranchyk was giving chase early and often and had his moments landing big combos, including a big flurry at the end of the third round. But Love wobbled Baranchyk for the first time at the bell to end the third as the ref came in to separate them -- and that might have been what turned the tide.
Afterward, Love called out Josh Taylor, the undisputed junior welterweight champion.
"Strap me up, man," Love said. "Strap me the f--- up."
Love (16-0-1) has won five straight after a draw with Kenneth Sims Jr. in July 2018. This is the 26-year-old Cleveland native's second straight stoppage win.
Baranchyk (20-3), the all-action 28-year-old from Russia who previously held the IBF junior lightweight world title, has lost three of his past four.
Tommy Fury outpoints Anthony Taylor, calls out Jake Paul
It was not the kind of superstar-making performance many wanted out of Tommy Fury. But he got the job done.
Fury, the half-brother of heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, defeated MMA fighter Anthony Taylor via unanimous decision (40-36, 40-36, 40-36) on the Paul-Woodley undercard. The bout was contracted for four rounds at 180 pounds.
The much shorter Taylor, who has competed as low as 135 pounds in MMA, was giving up a huge size advantage. Fury, a celebrity in the United Kingdom courtesy of both his family and his appearance on the "Love Island" reality show, was placed on this card as a potential next fight for Paul. It's unclear how a fairly lackluster performance will affect the chances of such a fight coming together.
Taylor, who came in with only one pro boxing match, is a Paul training partner, so the matchup was made in order to see how Fury would perform against someone who Paul knows well.
"Let's get it on, Jake Paul," Fury said in his postfight interview.
Fury clearly won every round, but Taylor attempted to make it a grind with lots of clinching and getting under the much taller Fury. Taylor landed some overhand rights and left hooks, but Fury was far busier and landed many more combinations and hard shots. To Taylor's credit, he was never really hurt.
Fury (7-0), who is only 22 years old, has now won two straight decisions after four straight knockouts.
Taylor (0-2), 32, fighting out of Los Angeles, sports a 7-5 MMA record and has competed in Bellator. Antonio McKee, the MMA veteran and father/coach of Bellator featherweight champion AJ McKee, was in Taylor's corner.
Charles Conwell dominates, stops Juan Carlos Rubio
Charles Conwell defeated Juan Carlos Rubio via third-round TKO. After a solid yet relatively quiet first round, Conwell absolutely let loose in the third. He bludgeoned Rubio to the body and then smashed him with two consecutive left uppercuts to send him reeling.
Conwell whipped a clean right hand that further rocked Rubio, and while Rubio remained on his feet, Conwell was completely chewing him up with no sign of things getting better. That led the referee to step in and stop the fight, giving Conwell a TKO victory at 2:49 into the third round.
Conwell (16-0, 12 KOs), a top prospect fighting out of Cleveland, was a 2016 Olympian in boxing. This is the 23-year-old's fifth stoppage victory in his past six fights.
Rubio (18-1), a 23-year-old Mexico native, had finished his previous two fights and was making his third appearance in the United States.
Conwell is known for a tragic incident involving Patrick Day, another boxing prospect, who died in 2019 following a loss to Conwell.