Ben Askren unfazed by Jake Paul, boxing match critics: ‘I’ve stepped in the cage with trained killers’

Hey, critics, Ben Askren has heard you loud and clear – and he doesn’t seem to care.

Scheduled to fight Jake Paul in an eight-round boxing match with 10-ounce gloves on April 17, Askren (0-0 boxing) is indifferent to the criticism he’s received since the fight was announced Tuesday – nor does he understand it.

The prospect turning down an opportunity baffles Askren. The monetary reward is there, as Askren has revealed he’ll make “more than I’ve ever been paid for a single fight” against Paul (2-0). But on top of that, Askren doesn’t agree there’s a high level of risk involved.

“It’s not like I’m going to box Mike Tyson,” Askren told ESPN on Tuesday. “It’s not like I’m going to box Roy Jones Jr. Yeah, if I had to box those dudes, I’d be genuinely worried. I would be nervous. Or maybe, name another good guy. I’d be like, ‘Aww (expletive).’ Even if I had to fight in a boxing match (against) some of these MMA guys. I’ve stepped in the cage with trained killers – guys who do this for a living. Jake Paul is a YouTube star who beat up two guys who have literally never been in a fight in their lives. The notion this guy is good at boxing is delusional.”

Askren – a former NCAA Division I national champion, four-time All-American, two-time Dan Hodge Trophy winner, and Team USA Olympian – found success in MMA through his grappling abilities.

When he steps into the ring on April 17, it will mark his first official boxing competition. However, Askren believes his ability to not get hit during his MMA career is reassuring he’ll find success against Paul.

“Listen, he’s a YouTube star,” Askren said. “People are trying to think he’s this good boxer. Think about the guys I’ve stood across the cage from: Douglas Lima, Andrey Koreshkov, Robbie Lawler – they only had four-ounce gloves on, and they could punch me or elbow me or kick me or knee me. They could do whatever the hell they wanted. Now, I’ve got to box this YouTube star with 10-ounce gloves on. It’s not that concerning.”

There is a lot of hype surrounding Paul – whether it’s due to his popularity or his actual in-ring skills is a different question. To Askren, the two aspects should be separated. And when it comes to Paul’s skills, Askren isn’t impressed.

“Anyone (who’s been) a combat athlete, they understand what it’s like to really be a fighter,” Askren said. “They understand what it’s like to really go through hard circumstances and battle adversity and deal with it. They understand that thing – that toughness. Jake Paul is a little (expletive)-boy. He is some rich celebrity who wants to pretend he is a fighter by fighting guys who are really bad.

“… He has this notion he wants to be a fighter, and it’s almost embarrassing to real fighters. It’s embarrassing to guys who’ve actually been in a cage or have been in a battle in wrestling or jiu-jitsu. (For) those type of people, it’s embarrassing that this guy is parading around like he’s a real fighter.”

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