YouTuber Jake Paul suffered the first defeat of his fledgling boxing career on Sunday night as pro boxer-turned reality TV star Tommy Fury edged him out on in a split decision in Saudi Arabia.
Two judges both scored the fight 76-73 for Fury, with the third judge ruling 75-74 in favor of Paul at the end of their eight-round cruiserweight bout at the Diriyah Arena near the capital Riyadh.
“In my first main event, 23 years old, I had the world on my shoulders, and I came through,” Fury said after the fight. “This, to me, is a world title fight. I trained so hard for this. This was my destiny.”
Paul, a 26-year-old American with more than 20 million YouTube subscribers, is now 6-1 while Fury, the British younger half-brother of heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, remains undefeated with nine wins after taking time out of his boxing career in 2019 to star in reality show “Love Island.”
Millions of fans were expected to tune into the fight, the latest pay-per-view bout involving a YouTuber to generate a social media buzz as promoters played up the bad blood between the two fighters. And just like a genuine world title fight, there were plenty of stars ringside, including former champ Mike Tyson, soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo and comedian Kevin Hart.
Fury asserted his jab early to keep Paul at a distance but the YouTuber gained momentum in the fifth round, appearing to stun Fury.
Both had points deducted – Paul in the fifth for pushing his opponent’s head down while clinching and Fury in the sixth for too much clinching, a defensive tactic that’s often only allowed for short periods of time.
Fury was knocked down in the eighth round on a short-left hand by Paul but it was too late as the judges ruled in Fury’s favor.
Paul said he intended to use a rematch clause for Sunday’s fight that could be exercised if Fury won.
“All respect to Tommy, he won, don’t judge me by my wins, judge me by my losses. I’ll come back, I thought I deserve that rematch, it was a great fight, a close fight,” Paul said after the fight.
Paul only began boxing in 2018, but had since gone on to record six wins prior to Sunday – including four knockouts. Fury, however, was the first professional boxer Paul faced.