- Conor McGregor is in a lose-lose situation when it comes to Jake Paul.
- If he ignores a challenge from the improving boxer, he would get accused of cowardice.
- But if he fights him, he risks a humiliating knockout to one of the fight game’s biggest trolls.
LAS VEGAS — Conor McGregor’s window of opportunity to fight and beat Jake Paul in boxing has likely closed forever.
The former two-weight UFC champion could still compete against him in a ring, but it is not a match he’d be expected to win, considering the internet celebrity’s development in combat sports and McGregor’s own downfall.
Paul knocked MMA great Anderson Silva down in the eighth round of a gripping, fun, very good fight Saturday in Glendale, Arizona.
After getting clowned by Silva, 47, in the early rounds, the 25-year-old content creator showed near-unflappable ring craft to overcome the experienced ex-UFC king.
By offering a significant payday, Paul has primarily been luring past-prime MMA fighters into boxing for headline opponents on Most Valuable Promotions (MVP) cards.
A bout against McGregor would arguably be the biggest box office spectacle he could be involved in — and it’s one in which he has a high chance of excelling.
Paul has age, height, weight, strength, and form on his side
Yes, McGregor (34) is younger than Paul’s recent opponents Silva, Tyron Woodley (40), and Ben Askren (38).
But his best work was at featherweight more than six years ago.
Since leaving the 145-pound division to venture into 155 and beyond, McGregor has lost more fights than he’s won. He’s been humbled by Floyd Mayweather in boxing and Khabib Nurmagomedov in MMA, and looks like he’d only be competitive against a handful of lightweight fighters in the UFC’s top-15 rankings.
Paul — who is riding greater form — would out-size McGregor by quite a margin. He’s taller, bigger, and stronger.
Statistics indicate that Paul is also improving on a fight-by-fight basis in boxing.
Gone are the days when he was a questionable novice who might bite off more than he can chew by taking on proven MMA strikers in a boxing ring, as he should now be regarded as the favorite in those situations, no matter who he can lure away from the Octagon.
In the first of his two fights against Woodley, Paul landed 71 shots from 207 attempted, for a 34.3% accuracy rate, with 36 jabs landed, and 35 power punches meeting their target, according to Compubox data sent to Insider last year.
Against Silva over the weekend — with an opponent who was a more accomplished striker than Woodley — Paul landed 83 shots from 336 attempted, for a 24.7% accuracy, with 32 jabs landed, and 51 power punches meeting their target, according to Compubox.
Paul’s abilities as a boxer are increasing on a fight-by-fight basis
What this shows is that Paul is getting increasingly used to eight-round fights, has become more active with his shot output, and is more successful against improved competition.
There are only so many opponents Paul and MVP on Showtime PPV organizers will regard as suitable.
Organizers may revisit bouts against Tommy Fury or Hasim Rahman Jr. The former boxing champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., or MMA icon Nate Diaz, could prove to be interesting opponents.
However, Insider understands, according to a source with knowledge of the situation, that McGregor remains the end-game.
Despite it lacking the quality of boxing that fans would see from legitimate pound-for-pound talents like Errol Spence Jr. and Terence Crawford, a fight between Paul and McGregor is likely the most lucrative event boxing could produce because of how famous those fighters are to a mainstream audience.
It would make both combatants tens of millions of dollars — a type of payday McGregor has never gotten and would never get in the UFC.
Paul publicly challenged McGregor during an interview with DAZN earlier this summer, imploring his adversary to box him instead of pursuing a rematch with Floyd Mayweather.
“We’ve already seen that fight,” said Paul. “Me versus Conor’s gonna be way more competitive, way more shit talk, way more entertaining. That’s the one everyone really wants.”
McGregor could leave the UFC and test free agency, potentially in a boxing fight against Paul, late next year
McGregor is a fighter Paul has frequently targeted, but the Irish fighter is still contractually tied to the UFC, which means MMA boss Dana White would likely have to sign off. And he’d be loathe to seeing one of his marquee fighters risk defeat to a renowned troll.
But with a UFC deal that is rumored to expire in October 2023, White would be powerless if McGregor wanted to explore more lucrative combat sports ventures in boxing late next year.
Whether McGregor would be willing to fight Paul remains to be seen.
But it presents a probable lose-lose situation for the Irishman because if he resists Paul’s advances, the American would start accusing him of cowardice.
And if he agrees, he runs the risk of getting knocked out in what would be the most humiliating loss of his entire career.
Both situations are embarrassing for McGregor and only enhance Paul’s allure as an increasingly hot commodity in the fight game.