Saturday night's rematch between Jake Paul and Tyron Woodley was always going to draw eyeballs. A replay of their tepid first fight, however, would have been a disaster for the Jake Paul business plan. The fight was anything but exciting for the first five rounds, then Paul changed everything with a bomb of a right hand that left Woodley unconscious on the canvas.
Paul was elated following the fight, calling out more big names and looking to build on the moment. Had that right hand not landed, the interest in Paul's boxing career may have cratered.
Let's take a deeper look into Paul's career-saving punch and other takeaways from Tampa.
Can't get enough boxing and MMA? Get the latest in the world of combat sports from two of the best in the business. Subscribe to Morning Kombat with Luke Thomas and Brian Campbell for the best analysis and in-depth news, including complete coverage of Jake Paul vs. Tyron Woodley 2 live from Tampa, Florida, all week long.
The Jake Paul train keeps on rolling
Speaking honestly, there's no way around the fact that the fight between Paul and Woodley was awful prior to the knockout. Full of fouls, clinching and very little effective punching, it was not an entertaining watch, even taken with the grain of salt with which all the celebrity crossover fights must be taken. Then, Paul dropped a right hand that erased everything that had come before and set Paul up to continue his boxing career with the kind of highlight that will keep interest high going into his next trip to the ring. After all, we live in viral times and there's nothing as viral in sports as a vicious knockout.
Paul has obvious flaws in his game and his fight-to-fight improvement seems to have stalled out a bit. He also has pretty big issues with his cardio. When he knocks people out, he knocks them out in big ways. Just ask Nate Robinson. Or Ben Askren. And now, Tyron Woodley. Combine that with big talk and you've got a recipe to continue drawing in eyeballs even as people insist they don't actually care.
Now, the calls go back to Paul needing to face "a real boxer." That was the plan, of course, with Paul set to face Tommy Fury before Fury suffered a rib injury. There's some reason to maybe pump the brakes on that idea after the Woodley rematch. Fury isn't an elite boxing talent, but he's unlikely to let someone off the hook in the same ways Woodley did in these past two fights. But the risk has to keep up at appropriate levels for this journey to remain interesting.
At least for one more night, Paul was able to find the right hand and keep this train rolling.
It's time for Tyron Woodley to call it a career
You can never take the career accomplishments from Woodley. He is one of the best welterweights to ever step into an MMA cage and an accomplished UFC champion. But what is left for him at this point? His UFC career ended with a whimper, losing four straight fights and not winning a round in that stretch. Age and a passive in-cage style had seemingly caught up to Woodley in the UFC Octagon. He found a willing rival -- and a big payday -- in Paul and managed to be competitive enough in the first fight that it seemed maybe there was some greatness still in there somewhere.
Then came Saturday night and the harsh reminder that he was in with a younger, stronger man. There should be no shame for Woodley in anything he's done in his career. He was once great, something few can truly say about anything they've done in their lives. But six straight losses, the most recent a frightening knockout at the hands of the "Disney Kid", is a sign that it's time to hang up the combat gloves of all types and enjoy your health. Despite Woodley's claim post-fight that he wants to fight four more times in 2022, it's time for him to just walk away.
NFL vs. NBA turned out to be shockingly entertaining
Former NBA All-Star Deron Williams took a split decision over former NFL pro bowler Frank Gore on the undercard. What looked like just another in the now-constant march of "crossover fights" turned out to be quite the fun brawl. Yes, it was ugly for all four rounds. It was, however, never boring. Gore was game to try and throw wild power shots, even connecting a few times and buzzing Williams. Williams was better technically and had better cardio, which proved to be a combination that was enough to get him the win in the four-round exhibition.
"I used my wrestling background to my advantage," Williams said. "I just wanted to prove to myself that I could get out here and do this. Everybody that's talking on Instagram and Twitter, they wouldn't step in here in front of all these people and on PPV for their first fight. Hats off to Frank. He had a dream. He had a goal. In my mind, we're both winners tonight."
For all the sad displays we've seen as the circus keeps returning to boxing -- disasters like Vitor Belfort vs. Evander Holyfield -- it turns out that putting elite athletes from other sports who have taken their training seriously is actually a recipe for entertaining theater. The welcome will wear out eventually but, at least for one more night, the circus was welcome to stick around, in part because of the efforts of Williams and Gore.