The most anticipated return of Jake Paul against Hasim Rahman Jr., the son of former heavyweight champion Hasim Rahman, was canceled on Saturday due to Rahman’s inability to make the 200-pound weight limit agreed for the fight.
Rahman (12-1, 6 KOs) has competed at heavyweight throughout his professional career and last fought at 224 pounds in April. Paul (5-0, 4 KOs) was looking for his first challenge against a real boxer. He has victories over fellow YouTuber Ali Eson Gib, former NBA player Nate Robinson and MMA fighters Ben Askren and Tyron Woodley, whom he fought twice, including in an impressive sixth-round KO victory last December.
So, who should Paul fight next? Assuming he still wants to fight a boxer, he has a few options. If he wants to go back to his options before Rahman, former UFC legend Anderson Silva and former boxing middleweight champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. are viable options.
But what about aiming higher? The WBC, who last week said that it would rank Paul at cruiserweight with a victory over Rahman, created the bridgerweight division a couple of years ago for fighters between 201 and 224 pounds and could sanction a fight against its champion and Paul.
And there’s always Conor McGregor…
Mike Coppinger, Ben Baby and Michael Rothstein share their thoughts.
Go back to Tommy Fury
Paul’s next opponent should be the one he was supposed to fight originally — Tommy Fury.
Fury, of course, couldn’t travel to the United States for their bout for undisclosed reasons. But why does this fight have to happen on this side of the Atlantic Ocean? Why not in the United Kingdom, where Fury is already a celebrity? Or, what about Saudi Arabia or Dubai, where the Fury family has some well-heeled connections?
Fury is perfect because he serves no major purpose in boxing’s greater landscape except for further establishing Paul’s credibility for future fights. While he is technically a pro, Fury is closer to Paul in talent than to his half-brother, heavyweight champion Tyson Fury.
To keep the intrigue rolling, Paul has to find an opponent who is a step up from previous challengers moonlighting in boxing. An opponent who is risky and might beat Paul. Anybody who has an actual boxing background would be a big risk for Paul.
So, everyone involved should find a way to bring Paul-Fury to fruition. Let’s not overthink the easy stuff. — Ben Baby
Can Paul go for a current champion?
Let’s not get carried away here. Yes, the cruiserweight division is widely considered the worst in boxing. And no, we’re not going to acknowledge the WBC’s nonsense bridgerweight division (maybe the more we ignore it, the quicker it disappears).
But even the worst cruiserweight champion would smack Paul silly. For example, Ryad Merhy holds a secondary title with the WBA. He has 30 professional bouts against actual boxers. Paul hasn’t even faced one yet. Baby steps, Jake. — Baby
How about Conor McGregor?
This may not be a terrible option if we’re being honest. McGregor ushered in the current era of novelty boxing when he fought Floyd Mayweather in 2017.
Despite being an accomplished UFC champion, McGregor had no business fighting Mayweather, one of the greatest of all time. It still happened. And McGregor looked terrible. I think a McGregor-Paul fight would be sloppy and limp until someone knocks the other out. But imagine the build-up all the way to fight night. The drama and bars would be on another level. The pay-per-view buys will be off the charts. And, it will be an absolute circus — the exact environment where both guys thrive. — Baby
Could he challenge a former UFC or boxing champion?
Paul insisted his next fight would come against someone with genuine boxing experience, and both original foe, Tommy Fury, and replacement opponent, Hasim Rahman Jr., fit the bill.
With Fury and then Rahman out for Aug. 6, it’s fair to think Paul will look elsewhere for a dance partner whenever he does return to the ring.
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., the son of the Mexican legend, and Anderson Silva were both rumored to be in the mix for Aug. 6. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see one of those two names grab the next Paul payday.
Chavez, long past his best days as a 160-pound titleholder, fought Silva in June 2021. The former UFC champion scored the upset victory via split decision.
Silva is an inexperienced boxer and 47, but he appears to take training in the ring seriously, while Chavez doesn’t. Chavez, whose last notable win came in 2012, would also be undersized vs. Paul, who typically fights at 190 pounds.
Surely, there are better options for Paul if he’s looking to make a statement in just his fifth pro fight. — Mike Coppinger
What about current prospects?
I know this defies the question, but it’s the most accurate answer: A fighter who is a “real” boxer who few fans have heard of. Let’s all remember that Paul still has under ten career fights and is 25 years old. Yes, he is a draw and he brings in a lot of money, but at some point, he needs to fight someone in his weight class that is a boxing-first fighter. Preferably, someone who isn’t way above his experience level.
I don’t see the possibility of him fighting for a championship now. I think there is real potential that it could happen down the road, but rushing something like that, in boxing, can lead to bad outcomes.
To me, the most intriguing option — which might actually sell better than others — likely couldn’t happen because of weight differential, and that’s Nico Ali Walsh. They both have name recognition and similar levels of experience. But, Walsh has been weighing around 160 pounds and Paul at 190. That’s a bit too much of a weight difference, in my opinion.
Since we have to go with a name here, I’ll say Muhsin Cason (10-0, 7 KO). He’s a fighter. He is an actual cruiserweight who doesn’t have too many pro fights on his resume. Paul is already familiar with him, considering Cason has called him out. Hasim Rahman Jr. even suggested Cason as a short-notice replacement. If Paul wants to be challenged, it might be a fight that is sensible to make. — Michael Rothstein