The boxing world has already witnessed plenty of Jake Paul’s in-ring escapades in the past 12 months from knocking out a former NBA star in Nate Robinson and a former MMA star in Ben Askren.
Neither of those fights really proved anything as far as Paul’s ceiling as a pro boxer and his next fight against Tyron Woodley on August 29 in Cleveland could yield similar results. Although the level of competition is not exactly normal for a pro boxer, Paul is anything but a normal pro boxer.
Taking the route of social media star turned boxer, Paul has already won four fights that were sanctioned as pro bouts. Like it or not, that pro record is official and in the history books.
The one thing that is different in this upcoming fight against Woodley is the overall show. No longer with Triller and fighting on Showtime, boxing fans will actually get to witness more experienced and talented fighters looking to make a statement in front of a massive worldwide audience.
Gone are the celebrities and non-boxers lacing up gloves and fighting in the ring on the undercard of a Jake Paul show. The undercard for Paul vs. Woodley will feature world champions, top contenders, promising prospects and everything in between.
Staying true to Showtime’s mission to showcasing top-level boxing, the undercard will have something for every kind of fan.
But for the non-traditional boxing fans who are not familiar with the boxers on the undercard, they will be watching a number of solid boxers in potentially great fights, with one even being for multiple world titles..
For the uninitiated, here is a primer on all the fights that will support the Paul vs. Woodley event from Cleveland:
Amanda Serrano vs. Yamileth Mercado: WBC and WBO Featherweight titles
Women’s boxing has seen quite the resurgence in recent years and Serrano, a seven-division champion and future Hall of Famer, is among the biggest reasons for it given that she fought in the first nationally-televised women’s boxing world title fight in nearly a decade in 2017 when she fought on Showtime Extreme against Yazmin Rivas.
Since then, Serrano has looked close to unstoppable, winning title fights from weights as light as 115 lbs. all the way up to 140 lbs. Serrano possesses tremendous power and incredible discipline seamlessly moving weight classes without any problems.
The one unfortunate part in Serrano’s career in the past few years have been her luck—or lack thereof—when it comes to securing big fights. At one point, a fight with undisputed lightweight champion Katie Taylor seemed inevitable, but the pandemic dashed those hopes. A second attempt at making the fight went nowhere due to issues between both camps at the negotiating table. Afterwards, Serrano hoped to become the first undisputed champion from Puerto Rico. Back in March, Serrano unified the WBC and WBO titles with a sensational ninth-round knockout win over Daniela Romina Bermudez. However, Serrano still hasn’t been able to land that next fight against either WBA champion Erika Cruz Hernandez nor IBF champion Sarah Mahfoud, really through no fault of her own.
Instead, Serrano has a challenge in Mercado, who is moving up in weight to challenge the unified featherweight champion.
Having started her professional career when she was a teenager, Mercado established herself as a contender at super bantamweight in just a couple of years. But whenever she fought upper echelon competition, Mercado would end up falling short.
After a split decision loss to Fatuma Zarika in 2018, a flipped was switched and Mercado started going on a tear, outboxing opponents with relative ease. Mercado avenged her loss to Zarika in 2019 with a dominant, one-sided victory to win the WBC super bantamweight title, her first world title. Since then, Mercado went on to defend her title twice in 2021 and a win against Serrano not only gives Mercado a title in a second weight class, but also a spot near the top of the pound-for-pound women’s boxing list, a list that includes the aforementioned Taylor, Claressa Shields, and Jessica McCaskill to name a few.
Ivan Baranchyk vs. Montana Love
This one may end up being the most interesting and best fight of the night when it is all said and done.
Baranchyk once held the IBF world title at 140 lbs. and briefly participated in the World Boxing Super Series. His first fight in the tournament saw him obliterate Anthony Yigit’s left eye that left it beyond swollen and grotesque to watch. However, his tournament run ended at the hands of current undisputed champion Josh Taylor in the next fight.
Since then, Baranchyk tried to work his way back to a title shot with mixed results. He was victorious in his comeback fight against Gabriel Bracero in 2019, but his next bout would end up being the one that all will remember his career by.
In October 2020, Baranchyk and Jose Zepeda engaged in one of the most dramatic, craziest, bank-and-forth, and violent boxing fights in recent memory. The two traded knockdowns left and right with both men taking a trip to the canvas a total of eight times in five rounds.
The fight many called the best of 2020 ended with Zepeda catching fire in the second half of the fight and hurting Baranchyk multiple times. The fight ended with Zepeda knocking out Baranchyk, but it was a fight that will go down in history as one of the best of the past decade. Still, a fight like that left both men worse for wear and Baranchyk has been a part of several grueling wars in his career. He is still a quality contender, but the wear and tear on his body is shortening that window of opportunity at being a top fighter at 140 lbs. A loss to Love would quickly move him closer to being a gatekeeper than someone on the verge of a title shot.
Speaking of Love, he has been a regular on Showtime’s ShoBox series, where many future world champions and contenders would make their mark.
Unbeaten in 16 pro bouts, Love is also an accomplished amateur fighter, but has never fought anyone of Baranchyk’s caliber. Love fought Kenneth Sims Jr. to a draw in 2018 in what was possibly Love’s toughest fight. However, he was able to rebound from the draw and win his next four bouts, two of which were against previously-unbeaten fighters.
This is a make-or-break fight for Love, who could quickly establish himself as a real contender by beating Baranchyk. A loss isn’t necessarily the end of the world for Love, but it does push his progress back by a bit. In a division that could see Taylor vacate all of his world titles sometime in the future, the time is now for someone new to break through and make some serious noise in the 140-lbs. division.
Daniel Dubois vs. Joe Cusumano
Dubois and Joe Joyce were seen by many as the two brightest heavyweight prospects in the UK for the last couple of years, with the two of them destined to be top contenders for years to come. Joyce was a slow, methodical power puncher with a devastating jab and a wealth of amateur experience backing him up. Dubois’ talent was more raw and unrefined, but his power was equally frightening at heavyweight and his athleticism was almost unmatched.
The two fought each other last November, but it was Joyce who emerged victorious, thanks to his impressive jab work and accuracy targeting Joyce’s fractured left eye. It was a left jab in the 10th round that sealed the KO victory for Joyce.
A devastating eye injury would end many a fighter’s career, but for now, Dubois has bounced back. This past June, Dubois captured an interim WBA heavyweight belt with a second-round knockout win against overmatched veteran Bogdan Dinu. Now, in a stacked heavyweight division that includes the likes of Tyson Fury, Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder, Oleksandr Usyk, and Joyce, Dubois is looking to work his way back towards a world title shot. Although a win over Cusumano doesn’t get him closer to that goal, it does expose Dubois to an American audience that has not had much of a chance to really see him fight.
In recent years, Cusumano has been a mainstay in the Rhode Island club boxing scene, racking up wins against journeymen and prospects. He was able to get a taste of fighting on a big boxing card when faced Gregory Corbin on the undercard of the Mike Tyson vs. Roy Jones Jr. Triller card in Los Angeles last year, a card that also featured Paul. Cusumano was able to knock out Corbin, giving him 17 wins in 19 pro wins.
Cusumano does own a win over former title challenger Michael Marrone and has even sparred several rounds with Wilder, so Cusumano knows to some extent what it feels like to be in the ring with a fighter with incredible knockout power.
A win over Dubois would not only be considered one of the sport’s biggest upsets, but also catapult Cusumano into bigger fights.
Tommy Fury vs. Anthony Taylor
For years, Tommy Fury is best known for three things: his participation in the reality TV show “Love Island,” his ongoing feud with Paul, and his last name.
Tommy is a part of the Fury family, which includes his brother Tyson, the current WBC heavyweight champion, and cousin Hughie, a former world title challenger. Though he is brothers with arguably the best heavyweight in the world today, not many look at Tommy and see the same potential as they see in Tyson.
Part of that has to do with the fact that Tommy’s opponents have not been particularly great. Out of Tommy’s six opponents in his pro career, four of them didn’t have a win at the time of their fight and only one of them had more wins than losses on their record.
It’s not terribly uncommon for British fighters to start their career with this kind of competition, but not everyone has the added pressure that comes with having the Fury name. Based on the ongoing back-and-forth between Tommy and Paul, it’s not unreasonable to imagine both of these guys fighting down the line if they each emerge victorious on August 29.
Taylor is better known for his time as an MMA fighter, where he fought for Bellator for multiple years. As a boxer, he is about as unproven as one can get, with his lone pro fight being a decision loss to Donte Stubbs back in 2017.
Charles Conwell vs. Lucas Brian Ariel Bastida
This fight is not scheduled to be a part of the PPV broadcast, but for those watching the event live, they will witness one of the junior middleweight division’s best young talents in Conwell.
The unbeaten Conwell has been slowly making waves in an increasingly-loaded 154-lbs. division, showcasing his talents on a variety of different programs from ShoBox to Ring City USA and even on DAZN.
Coming from Roshawn Jones’ gym, Conwell has a number of gym mates and family members training alongside him who are also noteworthy in their own right, including 2020 Olympic bronze medalist Oshae Jones, unbeaten prospect Isaiah Steen, Otha Jones III, and more.
Conwell can punch hard, box, fight and bully opponents on the inside, and has tremendous athletic ability. What’s more impressive is that he is still improving and is already a budding contender. Although it’s hard to say when he’ll get a world title shot, expect him to be a name you hear in the junior middleweight title conversation for some time.
Bastida will be making his US pro debut after fighting all 18 of his pro bouts in his home country of Argentina. Although Bastida isn’t on the same level as fellow countryman and WBO junior middleweight champion Brian Castano, South America has produced a number of quality boxers in recent years. Bastida could provide some trouble for Conwell if the Ohio-native isn’t too careful.
Paul vs. Woodley will air on Showtime PPV on August 29, starting at 9 p.m. ET from Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland.