Jake Paul hopes his fight against Hasim Rahman Jr. on Aug. 6 in New York — his first against a boxer with professional experience — is the springboard to an eventual title reign for the social-media influencer.
Paul, 25, told ESPN’s First Take on Tuesday that his “goal is to be the light heavyweight champion of the world in three to four years and to fight the biggest names in the sport.”
Currently, those 175-pound titles are held by Russians Artur Beterbiev and Dmitry Bivol, who are No. 7 and No. 8 respectively in ESPN’s pound-for-pound rankings. While it might seem far-fetched that Paul (5-0, 4 KOs) could defeat a fighter of that caliber, he’s banking on vast improvement over the next few years.
“I’m going to keep on progressing each time and getting harder and harder fights,” Paul told ESPN’s First Take. “The celebrity and basketball stuff, that’s sort of in the past. … [Boxing’s] my life. I don’t do anything else besides work on boxing from the time I wake up; it’s a morning practice.
“It’s yoga, it’s meditation, it’s film work. It’s talking with my coaches hours on end about game plan and strategies. … I’m eating raw liver, I’m eating bone marrow. I’m doing every single thing I can to maximize me becoming the best boxer possible and I know a lot of people are gunning for me. I know a lot of people want to see me lose.”
One of those, of course, is Rahman. The son of former heavyweight champion Hasim Rahman, the 31-year-old accepted the fight last week. He replaces Tommy Fury, the half-brother of heavyweight championship Tyson Fury, was denied entry into the United States from Britain for undisclosed reasons.
Rahman (12-1, 6 KOs) is coming off a fifth-round TKO defeat to unheralded fighter James McKenzie Morrison in April. Rahman, a career heavyweight, was 224 pounds for that bout. He’ll have to shed weight to make the 200-pound cruiserweight limit for the meeting with Paul, who’s coming off a spectacular KO of former UFC champion Tyron Woodley in a December rematch.
“If anything in the sparring session, he got the better of me, but that was two years ago and I believe in the past two years I’ve worked harder than him, so that’s where the confidence comes from,” Paul said. “Now, I can beat him.”