Jake Paul Gets New Opponent After Tommy Fury’s Travel Troubles
For the second time in eight months, a Jake Paul and Tommy Fury fight has been canceled.
Instead, Paul, the YouTuber-turned-professional boxer, will take on Hasim Rahman Jr., the son of the former heavyweight champion Hasim Rahman, on Aug. 6 at Madison Square Garden, a person with knowledge of the event said.
The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter, said the bout would be fought in the cruiserweight division, meaning both fighters will need to be no more than 200 pounds at the weigh-ins. (It will be the first fight for Rahman at cruiserweight; he holds a 12-1 record at heavyweight.)
The fight with Fury fell apart after Fury was not allowed to board a flight last week at Heathrow Airport in London for a scheduled news conference at Madison Square Garden. In a now-deleted video posted to social media, Fury said that he, along with his “team” and lawyers, had “no clue” why he was denied entry.
Fury said he was told by a U.S. Homeland Security officer that his travel authorization was denied. The issue could relate to his family connections with Daniel Kinahan, a boxing promoter who the U.S. government says is also the head of an Irish drug cartel.
“I want to clarify that I will fight in a neutral country that both parties can enter,” Fury said on Instagram on Wednesday. “This can be any time, any place, any where.”
Fury’s older half brother, the heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, has also been refused entry into the United States, according to the Irish Sunday World. Their father, John Fury, posted a now-deleted video on social media asking Paul to move the fight outside of the United States before his son was denied at the airport. “If you want this fight, my friend, you’ve got it, but we can’t take it in America,” he said. “But we will negotiate less money to fight elsewhere in the world.”
The U.S. government announced sanctions against Kinahan and a number of his associates in April, prohibiting Americans from doing almost all business with him and offering $5 million for information leading to his arrest. According to the U.S. Treasury Department, Kinahan and his family led Ireland’s most powerful organized-crime group, which trafficked drugs and guns.
Kinahan also founded a boxing-promotion company in 2012 and, until the sanctions, had become a powerful force in the sport. He was involved in negotiations for a potential fight between Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua that fell apart, and in February, Tyson Fury posed for a photograph in Dubai with Kinahan.
Tyson Fury has repeatedly refused to answer questions about his relationship with Kinahan.
The first Paul-Fury bout was scheduled for December at Madison Square Garden, but Tommy Fury pulled out before the fight because of an infection and a broken rib. That set up a rematch between Paul and Tyron Woodley, a former welterweight champion in the Ultimate Fighting Championship whom Paul had defeated by split decision in August 2021. Paul beat Woodley again, and decisively, with a knockout in the sixth round.
Paul, 25, rose to fame on the now-defunct social video platform Vine, alongside his social-media-personality brother, Logan Paul. Over the last few years, however, he has turned his attention to boxing, winning bouts against Nate Robinson, the former N.B.A. player, Ben Askren and Woodley. The fragmented boxing establishment has looked upon Paul with equal amounts envy and disdain, desirous of the large audiences and attention he brings to boxing but also dismissive of him as a sideshow that isn’t participating in real boxing.
Paul has a 5-0 record as a professional boxer, but his wins have come against fighters without professional boxing experience. A win over Tommy Fury, who is 8-0 as a professional, would have helped Paul build his argument for legitimacy in the sport.
The fight against Rahman might show whether or not Paul’s fighting skills are legitimate. Rahman has a professional record of 12-1, and his last fight, in April, was for a vacant heavyweight title. In effect, he is the first real fighter Paul will have ever fought and a chance for Paul to blend his social-media carnival with a serious sporting feat. Then again, it seems most likely that any victory by Paul will be viewed with a healthy amount of suspicion about his legitimacy.
Although this will be the first time these two meet in a bout, Rahman sparred with Paul ahead of Paul’s first professional fight.
Kevin Draper contributed reporting.