Anthony Taylor on sparring with Jake Paul and facing Tommy Fury
The MMA fighter has promised to "expose" Tommy Fury ahead of their 29 August clash, and predicts a victory for Jake Paul over Tyron Woodley in the main event.
Anthony Taylor has spent the past six weeks sparring with Jake Paul in Puerto Rico ahead of the YouTuber's fight against Tyron Woodley on 29 August, having been invited by coach BJ Flores.
Since then, the MMA fighter has been announced on the undercard of that fight, taking on British fighter and former reality TV star Tommy Fury, brother of Tyson Fury.
It’s a major opportunity for ‘Pretty Boy’ – who boasts a 7-5 professional MMA record – to show off his boxing skills in front of a massive audience.
Fury is undefeated in six fights as a professional boxer, with four knockout wins, but won’t have his father at ringside when he faces Taylor as John Fury was refused a Visa to gain entry into the US.
In an exclusive interview with sports betting website Betway, Taylor has promised to “expose” Fury and believes the absence of his father will be crucial.
“I’m about to bloody him up, he’s going to be in a dog fight,” Taylor says.
“Tommy is not ready for me, Tommy is not ready to be taken into the trenches. He’s underestimating me, he’s looking over me. He thinks he is flying into Cleveland to win and then face off with Jake, but he ain’t even going to see Jake that night.
"I’m going to test his chin for the first time and I’m going to shock the world. He has nothing I haven’t seen before. He’s going in the second round by TKO. He’ll regret overlooking me.
“I’m working hard, I'm hungry. He’s not that skilled. I want what he has; the money, the status, everything. I have nothing to lose and everything to gain. If I lose then it’s just an MMA fighter losing to a boxer. But if I win this fight, I'm a megastar.
"He’s young, he’s 22 years old, of course it’s going to affect him not having his dad there. Your comfort zone is your father. If you’re in trouble your father should be able to protect you. His father won’t be there, so he’ll be out of his comfort zone and I'm going to expose him. But whether his father is there or not I'm coming to take the fight to him."
Fury and Paul have been involved in a bitter war of words on social media, and the former’s presence on the latter’s undercard is almost certainly a precursor to the pair meeting in the ring in the near future.
Taylor believes a fight between Fury and Paul makes sense, depending on their results on 29 August, and says the quality of their opponents to date means he can only see the American winning.
"A lot of people are expecting, if Jake wins this fight, they’d like to see a Tommy Fury v Jake Paul fight. That can be interesting too depending on how the Tyron fight goes and my fight goes,” Taylor says.
“Tommy Fury versus Jake Paul, that’s a good fight. When you compare Tommy’s fights to Jake’s fights, Tommy’s fights are embarrassing.
“Then look at the fights Jake fought, I’m pretty sure the guys that Jake beat would beat the guys Tommy beat. I guarantee Ben Askren steamrolls Tommy Fury’s opponents. I kid you not. Jake absolutely beats Tommy Fury.
“Tommy is wild. I think Jake TKO’s Tommy in the third round. Tommy does not have the experience, without Tyson Fury he’s just a pretty Brit - a regular guy they are building up. I don’t think Tommy has the skills to beat Jake. Jake has better skillsets than Tommy.
“These guys probably started boxing at the same time, because Tommy wasn’t on the amateur circuit. He only really got into it after he met his girl Molly off Love Island.
“These two coming into boxing at the same time, you definitely got to look at who has had the tougher opponents. Tommy fought a guy with 10 wins and 126 losses - Jake would never fight a guy like that.
"That’s something to be discussed after the Tyron fight. There’s so many guys that want to fight him like Chris Lehmman, Conor - all of these guys want a crack at him. The team will talk after the fight.”
Having sparred with Paul for six weeks, Taylor has better insight than most into just how good a boxer the YouTube star really is.
“Jake has improved,” he says. “You can see his improvements from his first fight with Gib through to Nate Robinson and Ben Askren, kind of cleaning up some of the sloppiness.
“He’s kind of like A.J. McKee. The way that A.J. shows something different every fight, he’s developing every fight. Jake’s improved every camp; he’s developing power, he’s developed speed in his punches, great footwork, inside boxing. He’s becoming a complete boxer in his world.
“I’m not saying he’s going to fight Canelo or he’s going to fight a top five boxer, but he looks great, prepared and ready to go.”
“BJ [Flores] likes Jake to spar with the best of the best, he’s bringing in boxers who are undefeated. He’s bringing Jean Pascal, boxers with 20 or 30 fights and he’s telling them: ‘go to work’ and ‘don’t go easy on Jake’ - that’s how we roll with TeamPaul.
“Jake’s just not fighting MMA fighters and beating them up. He’s fighting real boxers and he’s giving them a hard time. Because a lot of boxers come in here the first day and say: ‘he ain’t no fighter’ and then they spar him and then they say: ‘I didn’t know he was that good’.
“Jake is more focused than anything. He knows Tyron is the toughest opponent to date and he’s locked in and focused; he looks amazing, his dieting is on point, his cardio is on point and he’s getting better and polishing his skills.
“BJ ain’t bringing in no scrubs, he’s bringing in pro fighters. Plus he’s got J’Leon Love here who is always sparring Jake. Love’s a world level athlete and he’s not taking it easy on Jake. He’s going hard and I don’t see Tyron getting this type of work.”
Woodley is undoubtedly Paul’s toughest opponent to date.
He boasts a 19-7-1 MMA record and won the UFC welterweight title back in 2016 before going on to successfully defend it four times.
Woodley is considered one of the greatest welterweights in MMA history, and his powerful right hand made him one of the most feared punchers in the UFC during his prime.
However, Taylor believes Woodley has only a “puncher’s chance” against Paul and says the former’s lack of boxing experience will cost him in their bout.
“Tyron is a lot more athletic than Askren,” he says. “But Tyron does not have that experience of boxing, it’s not like he’s taken a year off to box.
You’re talking about a guy that’s coming off four or five losses and just practicing MMA, you can’t expect him to be a world class boxer in three months. There’s levels to boxing. Jake’s been training for the past two and half years nonstop. He’s a workaholic and this man is putting in the work.
“When you put a guy like Jake in the boxing ring with a guy like Tyron, Jake’s going to win that all day, just because he’s been working on the repetition and the mechanics of boxing. Tyron technically has a puncher’s chance but Jake is a better boxer. Tyron is a better fighter because of his MMA background, but Jake is a better boxer.
“There’s a lot of people that think Tyron is going to knock out Jake. But I see it the other way around. He’s looking great.”
Although the recent “celebrity boxing” trend has been derided by some boxing purists, these fights continue to draw big pay-per-view numbers as fans tune in to watch the Paul brothers take on their next opponents.
Both Jake and Logan have called out Conor McGregor, who would represent an incredible payday and could potentially be tempted into a fight as his UFC career winds down.
Any meeting between Jake Paul and McGregor would almost certainly take place at a catchweight, and Taylor believes the disparity in weight between the pair means Paul would be able to compete with the former UFC lightweight champion.
“You got to understand, we’re not dealing with exhibitions, we’re talking about professional boxing matches licensed by the commission with an agreement on the weight class”, he says.
“Jake walks around about 215lbs, Conor walks around at 180lbs, he’d have to go up to 190lbs. I think Jake would drop down to 190lbs for Conor - he’s fighting Tyron at 190lbs.
“That fight is tricky because Conor is a lefty but Jake has more body mass, more range. You’re dealing with a guy that’s heavy. It would be competitive.
It’s no surprise that more fighters are being tempted into taking on YouTubers and reality TV stars, given the huge purses that are on offer.
Taylor has revealed just how lucrative being Paul’s sparring partner has been for him.
“I had the opportunity to fight in Cage Warriors but I couldn't pass up the money Jake was offering,” he says.
“I’m getting paid more money as Jake's training partner in two months than I made in my whole entire MMA career in six years. I swear to god, I made more money with Jake in two months than my whole MMA career.
“That’s disturbing when you think about it, because I fought for Bellator. I’ve fought two top five contenders in Bellator and I had a good run. It’s time to take it up a notch and fight for the UFC.
“Jake's ready to go, we’re just fine tuning his technique, we don’t need to break down the body, we don’t need the hard sparring. Just expect that Jake is going to look amazingly different.
“The kid gave up his house in California to move to Puerto Rico to train and he’s ready to go. Tune in on August 29th for some fireworks from him and from me as well.”