Jake Paul's next opponent will also be his former opponent.
Paul, the YouTube star-turned-prizefighter, will now fight former UFC champion Tyron Woodley in a boxing rematch Dec. 18 in Tampa, Florida, it was announced Monday. Tommy Fury, Paul's scheduled opponent, withdrew from the bout due to a "severe chest infection and broken rib," Fury's team said in a statement.
"The show must go on," Paul told ESPN. "I have a responsibility to the fans who bought tickets, who want to see me fight this year. I have a responsibility to the fighters on the undercard who are counting on this payday. I was like, give me anybody, let's make it happen. Tyron Woodley just so happened to step up to the plate.
Paul-Woodley 2 will be contested at 192 pounds over eight rounds, the same specifics of the originally planned bout with Fury.
Paul beat Woodley by split decision Aug. 29 in Cleveland. Some controversy followed that bout. Paul and Woodley agreed in the ring after the fight to have a rematch if Woodley got a tattoo on his body that said "I love Jake Paul." Woodley got the tattoo on his left middle finger in September. At the time, though, Paul said that Woodley was too late and that he was moving on without him. Paul vs. Fury was announced in late October.
"The rematch, it always made sense," Paul said. "It didn't make as much sense as me fighting Tommy Fury fight then and there. [Woodley is] ready, and he did get the tattoo. He was the only one on the list really that can sell pay-per-views. I can't just go in there and fight some journeyman like most of these boxers do."
Woodley, the heralded, 39-year-old former UFC welterweight champion, had continued training with the possibility of competing again in boxing or MMA early next year. Paul's adviser Nakisa Bidarian, who co-founded Paul's Most Valuable Promotions, said he spoke with Woodley on Wednesday and Thursday. Paul found out the news Friday morning, he said, and Bidarian said a deal was in place Friday night.
Bidarian said Woodley will earn a $500,000 bonus if he is able to knock Paul out, which Paul's team hopes debunks the rumors that Paul has been putting a no-knockout clause in his boxing contracts.
Paul, 24, said he could revisit a fight with Fury in 2022 but was not sure. Paul said the Furys are a "sketchy family," pointing out that Tyson, Tommy's half-brother and the lineal boxing heavyweight champion, has pulled out of multiple fights.
"It's just annoying that I even gave these buffoons a chance and they let us down," Paul said. "... Fighters fight with injuries all the time. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and a lot of times when big fights like these don't happen, they may never happen because of the trajectories of people's careers or whatever it might be. It's upsetting, and it's embarrassing for the Furys. They're boxing's biggest b----es right now."
In a statement, Fury said he was "absolutely heartbroken" about having to withdraw and "never expected anything to come in my way from a victory" against Paul.
"I can't express how disappointed I am and I really do hope we can get this fight rescheduled in the new year, I want this fight to still happen more than anything," Fury said.
Paul is 4-0 as a pro boxer, with knockout wins over YouTuber AnEsonGib, NBA veteran Nate Robinson, and Olympic wrestler and MMA champion Ben Askren. Woodley is the only opponent he failed to stop -- and Woodley actually rocked Paul during the bout in August.
"The goal is going to be to knock him out," Paul said. "After that, I will be able to say I have knocked out every single person that I've fought."
Amanda Serrano, ESPN's No. 3-ranked female boxer in the world, will continue to fight in the co-main event against Miriam Gutierrez. A fight between NBA veteran Deron Williams and accomplished NFL running back Frank Gore will take place on the undercard.