In a huge victory for reality TV stars over social media personalities, Tommy Fury beat Jake Paul by an eight-round split decision in their much hyped boxing match on Sunday night.
Paul, who made his fortune as a YouTube prankster before turning his hands to boxing in recent years, had got off to a respectable start to his fighting career before Sunday, compiling a 6-0 record, although some of his opponents were of debatable quality.
Fury was a tougher test. While Paul is a social media personality with a sideline in boxing, Fury is a boxer with a sideline in social media. He is the younger half-brother of world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury and was undefeated coming into his fight with Paul, winning all nine of his fights, four by knockout. But to many people, in the UK at least, he is more famous for finishing as a runner-up in the fifth season of Love Island.
The fight, almost inevitably, took place in the home of dubious sporting projects, Saudi Arabia. The bout had twice been postponed, once when Fury suffered an injury in the build-up to the fight and again last summer when the Briton was denied entry into the US.
The fight went as many expected with Fury controlling long periods thanks to his effective jab that allowed him to survive some scrappy aggression from Paul. The 26-year-old American even dropped his opponent in the eighth round but Fury had done enough by then to secure victory by split decision (74-75, 76-73, 76-73). Fury was docked a point for excessive clinching while the referee took a point from Paul for holding down his opponent’s head during a clinch.
According to CompuBox, Fury landed 88 of his 302 punches, far more than Paul, who connected with 49 of his 157 blows.
“I’ve already won every single way in life,” Paul said after the fight. “I made it farther than I ever thought I would, and beyond. This is a humbling experience. I’ll take it on the chin and come back.”
Fury believes the win was the most important of his life. “I had a dream, I had a vision that I would win this fight, but no one believed me,” Fury said. “Now I can stand up and everyone can take note … This to me is a world title fight, I trained so hard for this.”
Both men will walk away from the fight significantly richer. When pay-per-view income is taken into account, Paul is expected to earn around $8.6m and Fury $4.5m.
Unsurprisingly given those sums, Paul said that he is ready for a rematch. “100%, let’s run it back,” he said.
Several former and current boxing world champions were ringside to watch the spectacle, including Mike Tyson, Deontay Wilder, Devin Haney and Tyson Fury, who had been a vocal supporter of his brother in the build-up to the fight. Other famous figures in the crowd were comedian Kevin Hart and Cristiano Ronaldo, who recently signed for Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr.