Former cruiserweight champion Tony Bellew has been a longtime critic of Jake Paul (5-0, 4 KOs), but he admits the Youtube star turned boxer is taking a big risk in facing heavyweight prospect Hasim Rahman Jr. (12-1, 6 KOs).
Paul will face his first pro boxer in Rahman on August 6th at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The bout will headline a Showtime Pay-Per-View card.
Rahman Jr, the son of former heavyweight champion Hasim Rahman, replaces light heavyweight prospect Tommy Fury, who was unable to enter the United States.
“I’m shocked he went for Rahman Jr. Make no mistake, there are plenty of flaws with Rahman Jr. and he’s nowhere near the level his father was, or will he ever likely be,” Bellew told DAZN.
“Whatever his reasons for insisting on Rahman Jr., I’m massively impressed that Paul has taken this step because this is a significant step up from what he’s used to as he’s in there with an actual professional boxer. This is a much harder fight than his original contest with Fury, and I’m trying to figure out why Paul has gone down this route.”
Paul and Rahman Jr. were involved in a heated sparring session two years ago.
If Paul is victorious next month, then Bellew will be the first to admit that it’s time to view him in a different light.
“If Paul can defeat Rahman Jr., then it’s probably time to accept that he’s serious about boxing. Another fight in the shape of Rahman Jr., or even getting the Fury fight on would be the sensible option for his next fight, but I’d like to see him get busier. He needs to fight more if he wants to improve quicker and next month will tell us how much he needs to improve. I can’t wait to find out,” Bellew said.