Saturday, January 22, 2022

Paulie Malignaggi: Ben Askren Can Never Call Himself A Fighter

Paulie Malignaggi has personally revoked Ben Askren’s status as a professional fighter.

On April 17, Ben Askren will be making his boxing debut when he faces Jake Paul live on pay per view. For Paul, this will be only his third professional fight, but it will be his first time competing against someone who is classified as a fighter. Though Askren is not a boxer, his successful career as a mixed martial artist earns him more credibility than Nate Robinson or AnEsonGib, who have no fighting background at all to speak of.

Some have complained about Paul having the opportunity for big paydays while other, more veteran boxers make a fraction of what Paul does in these money fights. But given Paul’s experience level, former boxing champion Paulie Malignaggi feels that Jake Paul is being matched appropriately, regardless of who dislikes the gaps in the bottom line. 

“Jake is where he should be for somebody who has dedicated himself and has been boxing two years,” Malignaggi said in an appearance on The Schmozone. And of course, you mix and match that with the promotional aspect of it that he’s able to generate, and of course, you end up with people probably thinking he’s better than he is, which is fine as far as his marketing ability is concerned. But in reality, I think he’s where he should be after two years. So you can’t really match him against somebody all that dangerous just because you don’t like that he’s making all this money as a boxer when some other boxers aren’t.

Early odds favor Jake Paul over Ben Askren in potential boxing match - MMA  Fighting
Jake Paul In Action. Credit: Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for Triller

“I think Askren is good progression because Askren is technically an ex-fighter now as opposed to just an ex-athlete. He was a great wrestler from what I hear. But his striking was, from what I’ve seen, some of the most pitiful in combat sports. And you’re forcing him to use what he’s not good at.”

Malignaggi Does Not Consider Ben Askren To Be A Fighter

Noticeable in the rhetoric of Malignaggi is the use of the word “technically” when describing Askren as a fighter. This usage was very deliberate, as Malignaggi struggles to give anyone “fighter” cred when the individual has been knocked out within a few seconds of a fight in the manner Askren was against Jorge Masvidal at UFC 239. 

“So you can technically call him a fighter. Personally, me, any time you get knocked out in less than five seconds in any fight, you lose the ability to call yourself a fighter ever again,” Malignaggi declared. “So I don’t think Ben Askren can ever call himself a fighter ever again.

UFC 239: Jorge Masvidal gets record KO vs. Ben Askren
Jorge Masvidal Knocks Out Ben Askren With Flying Knee. Credit: Stephanie R. Sylvanie, USA TODAY Sports.

“Even if you fight.  You might be somebody that fights, but you’re technically not a ‘fighter’ anymore. Because no fighter is getting knocked out in five seconds or less like he did.”

Ben Askren will have the opportunity to disprove Malignaggi and those who may share his opinion when he steps into the boxing ring to fight Jake Paul on April 17. But for general MMA fans, Askren’s credentials have already solidified himself as someone worthy of the “professional fighter” label and then some, win or lose on the 17th of April.

Do you agree with Paulie Malignaggi? Is Ben Askren ineligible to consider himself a fighter?

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