Jake Paul vs. Ben Askren: Fight prediction, odds, card, expert picks, preview for boxing showdown

Combat sports’ long history of circus sideshow fights has received a modern wrinkle in recent years, with social media influencers leading a new wave of “outsiders” stepping into the fight game. That continues on Saturday night when YouTube star Jake Paul steps into the boxing ring for the third time as a professional to face former UFC fighter Ben Askren at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta (9 p.m. ET, pay-per-view).

The bout headlines a card loaded with oddities, including a former boxer-turned nightclub mogul vs. a musician and another boxer vs. UFC showdown.

Fight week has taken some ugly turns, with Paul accused of sexual assault by a TikTok influencer, as well as his own claims that he is now showing early signs of brain trauma.

“It’s a dangerous sport,” Paul said during media day for the event. “That’s why, when people question my dedication to it, it’s like, I’m showing up every single day. I’m putting my mental health on the line, my brain is on the line. Like you said, I’ve gone and gotten brain scans and have early signs of CTE.”

He later walked back his claim on CTE.

Paul has been undeniably impressive in his previous two professional fights, though neither came against an actual fighter. After knocking out fellow YouTube star AnEsonGib, Paul went viral this past November when he brutally knocked out former NBA star Nate Robinson.

For all the controversy Paul has generated, both in and out of the fight world, all reports indicate that he has taken his boxing training seriously and it has certainly been a viable revenue stream for him.

In Askren, he is finally facing a man who made his living through fighting, though certainly not as a boxer. Askren’s MMA career was very successful, capturing multiple championships before ending his career with a disappointing run in the UFC. After just three fights on MMA’s biggest stage, Askren was forced into retirement due to longstanding issues with his hips.

When a full hip replacement ended up not being needed, Askren took the fight with Paul, getting back into the fight game in the one area of his talents where he has always been weakest. If the boxing experiment goes well, Askren believes he may return to the circus a few more times.

“I’m not going to do three boxing matches a year or anything,” Askren told BJPenn.com. “But, if I call out some other dope YouTuber and will fight him next year, yeah. I’m not going to do 20 of them but I might do two or three more.”

Below you can have a look at the full fight card set for Saturday, with odds provided via William Hill Sportsbook.  

Paul vs. Askren cards, odds

Jake Paul -180

Ben Askren +155

Cruiserweight

Regis Prograis -4500

Ivan Redkach +1600

Light welterweight

Steve Cunningham -1000

Frank Mir +650

Heavyweight

Joe Fournier

Reykon

Light heavyweight

Junior Younan

Jeyson Minda

Super middleweight

Lorenzo Simpson

Francisco Torres

Middleweight

Quinton Randall

William Jackson

Welterweight

Prediction

Paul is an obnoxious personality, but he’s also young, strong and seems to be taking boxing seriously in the gym. That has paid off against non-boxers. Askren is not young, but isn’t going to be overwhelmed mentally by the idea of being in a fight on a big stage, and he has taken hard punches to the face through his career. That’s not true of someone like Nate Robinson, so Paul will have to experience a willing opponent who understands what fighting really is. The problem for Askren is that he simply has never been a striker and has struggled in the stand-up game even against other non-strikers through his MMA career. Did a few months of strict boxing training elevate Askren’s game to where he can box with a taller, stronger, younger opponent who has dedicated a few years to the sport? That’s a mighty big ask. Pick: Jake Paul via TKO2

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