The growing trend of professional (former) athletes fighting social media celebrities will reach new heights on Saturday, April 17, when Jake Paul returns to the boxing ring opposite “Funky” Ben Askren.
Prediction: Ben Askren to win (+205). Read the Jake Paul vs. Ben Askren fight odds preview, get bonus from BetMGM USA Sportsbook.
Jake Paul vs. Ben Askren Moneyline Odds
Jake Paul: -250
Ben Askren: +205
Odds via Sugarhouse NJ
Disney actor turned ‘influencer’ ,Paul, entered the fight scene in 2020 and won back-to-back bouts, first beating fellow YouTube personality AnEsonGib and then former NBA star Nate Robinson, both via stoppage. CBS confirmed Justin Bieber and Snoop Dogg will be among the live performers at this event, along with Doja Cat, The Black Keys, and Diplo.
After calling out a long list of potential opponents including UFC superstar Conor McGregor, he agreed to fight another athlete with a mixed martial arts background in Askren. Sugarhouse USA is one of the sportsbooks currently accepting wagers for the novelty matchup, with the former pro fighter a big moneyline underdog at +205, while Paul is worth less than half that price at -250.
Having retired from MMA in 2019 and 12 years Paul’s senior, it’s understandable that former ONE welterweight champion Askren—primarily a grappler by nature—isn’t well-backed for a straight boxing contest. That being said, UFC president Dana White—who signed Askren to the promotion in 2018—believes in the veteran’s stand-up game enough to bet $1 million on the underdog:
@danawhite taking “put your money where your mouth is” to another level.— Hotboxin' with Mike Tyson (@hotboxinpodcast) March 10, 2021
Full episode: https://t.co/HZCyAJefbt@jakepaul @Benaskren @SUPERJUDAH @MikeTyson #Hotboxin #DanaWhite #UFC pic.twitter.com/CNVu0JHMUs
Fight Date, Key Info
When: Saturday, April 17
Where: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia
Event Start Time: 9 p.m. ET
Live Stream: Fite TV
Paul didn’t make it out of the first two rounds in each of his previous two fights. His debut first-round TKO of AnEsonGib was always slanted in his favor, while the second—a clean second-round KO of Robinson—made people question whether Paul packs actual talent:
However, Askren will be his first opponent with actual fight experience, and while Funky—who retired with a 19-2-1NC record in MMA—is primarily known for his wrestling, it’s worth highlighting he has as many KO/TKO wins on his record as he does submissions (six). Granted, a good deal of those finishes will have been set up by his smothering skills on the ground, but there’s a certain comfort and conditioning that comes with a lifetime of training around mixed martial arts.
It’s a valid concern that Paul’s range and difference in size could be a concern for the underdog. According to Essentially Sports, the YouTuber boasts a reach of 78”, which is seven inches more than Askren, per Tapology.
A lot will come down to just how serious Askren has been in training for his boxing debut—which includes time under legendary coach Freddie Roach—while Paul has been fitting in publicity stunts amid his preparations:
I’m literally a tow truck. Ben Askren eatin Oreos right now. April 17th. 1 round knockout. pic.twitter.com/0SQGENf3tn— Jake Paul (@jakepaul) March 15, 2021
Almost two years on from his vicious flying-knee knockout defeat to Jorge Masvidal, Askren is likely to be a lot more wary of falling victim to early surprises in Atlanta, Georgia. His best approach is to outlast Paul’s power earlier on, use his smaller stature to its strengths until the favorite tires a bit, and then try to find his holes once he’s in less familiar territory.
After six-round contests in his previous two outings, Paul will make the step up to eight rounds for the first time. Askren boasts experience fighting a full 25 minutes earlier in his MMA career, so even with a little time on the sidelines, there’s no reason to think he won’t be able for a 24-minute fight should it go that far.