Pause for a moment. Take a deep breath – in slowly through the nose, out slowly through the mouth. It’s over. Jake Paul vs Tommy Fury, the YouTuber’s boxing venture, the circus around social-media scraps; it’s all over.
Except, what’s that? That niggling, unsettling feeling in the depths of your stomach, the internal itch at the back of your head, the floater drifting around your peripheral vision.
You remember Paul fighting Fury in Saudi Arabia on Sunday night; if you didn’t watch it, you were at least aware of its existence from several jaunts to Twitter or those frenzied, background conversations in the pub. You know Fury won, Tyson’s half-brother beating the American on points. So, it’s over. Isn’t it?
Except, when you picture the fight, it’s not just from memory; there are exchanges you don’t recall having seen on Sunday, there is ringside drama even more bewildering than what was broadcast on 26 February. This is… an imagined scenario, a hypothetical. This is the rematch.
Because, sports fans, the rematch is inevitable.
That’s right, it isn’t over after all – not by a long shot, not by a winging, Jake Paul overhand that misses its mark by the margin of a couple of fists.
Paul vs Fury was billed as “The Truth”, and the truth is that the Briton proved himself as the better boxer. Fury, 23, is a neater fighter than Paul, 26, with sharper fundamentals and a decent chin. Fury is far from slick, and – beyond a surefire second showdown with Paul – the former Love Island star may never box professionally again after this year. But he is the better fighter.
And yet, the pair will go at it again, because it was never the result of this bout that would determine what would come next; it was the stupefying success of the build-up and the event itself.
Fury and Paul generated greater intrigue around – and money from – their eight-round contest in Diriyah than many world champions can generate in grudge matches at the highest level. Do you really want to blame Paul and Fury for that? That they were able to earn a few million dollars each for 24 minutes of often-scrappy work on a Sunday evening is a testament to their promotional skills. Their fighting skills were largely irrelevant.
And those same promotional skills will ensure that a rematch achieves at least a modicum of the success that Sunday’s main event did, while the interest in the event will certainly encourage organisers to remain in this realm.
Between rounds of Sunday’s main event, Paul’s older brother Logan – who also has minimal fighting experience – repeatedly called the Fury family “b*****s”, drawing the ire of ex-UFC star Nate Diaz. “This guy needs his a** beat,” the 37-year-old tweeted. “Who let the spoiled lil b***h yell obnoxious s*** during the fight?”
Diaz has been in talks to fight Jake Paul next, according to the YouTube star himself, but perhaps it was an intelligent, instinctive pivot from Diaz to recognise that a rematch between Jake and Fury is likely incoming, and to target the ex-Disney Channel actor’s brother instead.
Jake Paul vs Tommy Fury II with Logan Paul vs Nate Diaz on the undercard? Each fight on a separate night for maximum monetary impact?
Logan’s 2021 exhibition fight with Floyd Mayweather arguably out-performed expectations, and the 27-year-old is now thriving as a part-time WWE star, meaning he has an even greater audience to tap into than his existing YouTube fandom.
None of this is to say that the apex of this adventure is ahead of us, rather than behind us; before the fight, Paul vs Fury felt like an endgame for the former, and although it has in fact bought the American more time, the sands are still slipping through the hourglass. Slowly, though – too slowly for some.
So: Pause for a moment. Take a deep breath – in slowly through the nose, out slowly through the mouth. It will all be over soon. Just not as soon as you thought.
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