Jake “The Problem Child” Paul and Hasim Rahman Jr. didn’t waste any time expressing their dislike for each other during a heated and at times frenzied press conference on Tuesday, vowing to knock the other out ahead of their cruiserweight clash scheduled for eight rounds on Saturday, August 6 live on SHOWTIME PPV (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT) from Madison Square Garden in New York City.
For the first time in his colorful and storied career, Paul (5-0, 4 KOs) will take on a full-fledged boxer in Rahman Jr., who is 12-1 with six knockouts, had around 100 amateur fights and has been trained by such greats as Emanuel Steward, Calvin Ford and now Yoel Judah.
The press conference was hosted by the combat sports expert Ariel Helwani, who guided the heated back-and-forth discussion between Paul and Rahman Jr. Their animosity stems from sparring sessions they held before Paul’s first two fights in 2020 and who got the upper hand in that action. Rahman claims he only used one hand in the sparring in an effort to work with him. Paul referenced leaked footage of their sparring in which Paul appears to land a number of heavy blows to demonstrate the action was heated and not at all controlled. Rahman Jr. claims the footage was edited to make Paul look good.
The subject of Paul’s boxing resume also came up with Rahman stating that Paul built his career off of pummeling former MMA and NBA athletes. “That’s why your next on the list,” Paul responded. “That’s why I’m fighting you.” Hasim Jr. was flanked on the dais by his famous father, the former two-time heavyweight champion, Hasim Sr., who rose to prominence knocking out Lennox Lewis in 2001 in South Africa to become the unified titleholder. Paul referenced Rahman Sr., saying he wouldn’t be able to fight his son’s battle on August 6.
“You’re not in the ring sir,” Paul said. “And that’s what your son doesn’t understand. He thinks he’s you and that’s his biggest mistake and on August 6 I’m ending the legacy that your whole family has.”
Here’s a sampling of what the participants had to say at Tuesday’s press conference:
Photos: Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME
“He’s going to get beat up by a singer, a musician, a seashell collector, an amateur, a Disney boy, a YouTuber, I’m all of these things.”
“I beat him in sparring and he knows that too. We have the footage.”
“You’re probably a little nervous about what happened (when we sparred). But under the lights with 10-ounce gloves is going to be different. That’s why I do this sport. I don’t do this sport to spar, I do this sport to fight and when he gets under the lights at Madison Square Garden in front of 20,000 fans, you’ll see what the result is.”
“It’s bring-your-kid-to-work day.”
“We know he’s going to come out southpaw so it’s me fighting a southpaw for the first time. But other than that, nothing really changes in my preparation. I spar professional fighters in the gym all the time, two to three times a week for the past three years, guys way better than him, so nothing really changes. We’re prepared for this.”
“You got beat (in sparring) and you know it.”
“This is 100 percent a tougher fight (than facing Tommy Fury). This is what I do. I take hard challenges and challenge myself more and more and increase the level of opposition and give the fans what they want. People say fight a real boxer – here we go. This guy is bigger than me, he has more experience. There’s no reason that I should win this but I’m proving to the world and proving to the kids out there that if you truly put your mind to something and you’re dedicated, then you will win.”
Hasim Rahman Jr.