Tubby veteran Askren lasted marginally longer than the five seconds he fought for in a flying knee defeat against Jorge Masvidal at UFC 239 in 2019, managing to stay on his feet for almost two minutes before being floored by a right hand from social media sensation Paul.
The 36-year-old tottered up for a few seconds before the referee waved the fight off, giving Paul even less of a challenge than he faced in the second win of his professional boxing career last year, when he poleaxed former NBA star Nate Robinson in a brutal two-round demolition that many had suggested was dangerous in light of Robinson’s clear lack of preparation.
“I think today proves the fact that if you have enough followers, you can truly f***ing do whatever you want,” sneered comedian Pete Davidson, providing part of the build-up to a showdown which had cost $50 to watch.
“Tonight we have a bout between Ben Askren – I don’t know who that is still and I’ve been reading up on him all week – and Jake Paul.
“You can tell how professional this event is by them having me here. Today is a wild day for boxing because it shows how low it has truly sunk. They both suck, but at least somebody’s gonna get hurt.”
Pop superstar Justin Bieber and legendary rappers Snoop Dogg and Ice Cube were among those to appear on the celebrity-crammed bill, and there was another comedy moment when Bieber appeared to forget that he had another song to play.
Bieber’s performance did not end quite as prematurely as Askren’s, with many suggesting that the boxing rookie went out with such a whimper that his defeat could even have been pre-arranged.
“Wait a minute, did Askren get us all?” former two-weight UFC champion Daniel Cormier asked, questioning how seriously Askren had taken his task while highlighting footage of him laughing backstage in the aftermath of his defeat. “This is some magician stuff. Come on, Ben.”
Masvidal retweeted a post that said: “Ben Askren is the abysmal example of what an elite MMA athlete does not stand for.
“Since [losing to Masvidal] he has disconnected, only taking pity playing the clown. The Jake Paul thing should stop and hopefully a serious boxer will spank him.”
Askren played down the significance of the embarrassing spectacle. “I wasn’t nervous at all because my life doesn’t change one way or the other,” he explained.
“In MMA, I was always defending or pursuing a world title and today I was doing a fun boxing match.
Warning: video contains swearing
“If it turned out great, then great. If it turned out s***, then my life is the same. I will not be back again. I will not be in any sort of cage. It is unfortunate. I really did think I could do better. That was not fun.”
Paul dedicated his win to his bodyguard, ‘Shadow’, who died in the days before the fight.
“I feel like I’m living in a dream. I’ve had a lot on my mind… I’ve had to persevere through a lot of hard s***, allegations, deaths – the list goes on,” said the 24-year-old. “I talked a lot of s***. I’m just going to enjoy my life for a second.”
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