DALLAS (AP) — Jake Paul bounced back nicely from his first career loss.
Paul won a unanimous decision against Nate Diaz in a cruiserweight fight Saturday night.
The 26-year-old social media YouTube personality who has turned himself into a prizefighter clearly held the advantage for much of the 10-round event. However, Diaz, a mixed-martial arts fighter who left the UFC in 2022, was on the verge of a knockout at several moments.
“It’s what I expected. That’s what he’s known for,” Paul said of Diaz. “I don’t know how he survived that first round but he’s a dog and I walked the dog.”
Paul (7-1) showed he was better conditioned throughout in his first fight after a split-decision loss against Tommy Fury in Saudi Arabia in February. The three judges scored this one in Pau’s favor, 97-92, 98-91, and 98-91.
The 38-year-old Diaz, making his pro boxing debut, struck several blows near the end of the third round, briefly leaving Paul wobbly before the bell. Diaz continued his offensive in the fourth round, landing several jabs to the roars of the decidedly pro-Diaz crowd.
“He did a great job, he’s an athletic, strong dude,” said Diaz, who lamented not training harder for the event.
In the fifth round, Diaz appeared fatigued and Paul jumped on the opportunity. He sent Diaz briefly to the floor with a clean left hook before leveling successive blows to Diaz’s head later in the round.
“I didn’t want to burn out and then let him catch a wind and come back with something,” Paul said of the knockdown. “So I was being patient, being smart, and was looking for the kill, but he withstood a bunch of big punches.”
Neither fighter scored big in the sixth round, though Diaz was battling puffiness in both eyes.
Diaz scored with a combination of punches in the seventh, and both fighters exchanged blows during a particularly eventful eighth round.
Diaz did plenty of showboating in the ring, taunting Paul in the ring at times and turning his back on him. He also mocked one of Paul’s punches in the ninth round.
However, Diaz looked like he was moments from being knocked out on several occasions. Even as he preened toward the crowd and away from Paul, Diaz appeared less and less steady on his feet throughout the later rounds.
“It was fun. I knew he was trying to take breaks so I would pounce on him when he was doing that,” Paul said. “We were talking to each other the whole fight.”
Even in the 10th and final round, Diaz at times turned away from Paul and put both hands on the top rope, and shook his head derisively at Paul.
The win was Paul’s third against a former UFC champion. He beat Tyron Woodley with a one-punch knockout in December 2021 and Anderson Silva in a unanimous decision last September.
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