Former UFC fighter and title-holder in ONE Championship and Bellator Ben Askren lost his pro boxing debut to internet celebrity Jake Paul in just over a minute on Saturday.
Askren was hit by a clean right cross delivered by Paul that floored him, causing him to hit the canvas hard on his side only 40 seconds in. While Askren got up during the referee’s knockdown count, he was deemed not able to compete due to the damage suffered.
Paul’s victory over Askren headlined a pay-per-view boxing event at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
The fight was Askren’s first participation in combat sports after declaring retirement from MMA in late 2019. Askren cited issues with his hip when departing the sport, mentioning at the time that he needed a hip replacement.
Askren’s MMA career concluded with a short stint in the UFC. After a controversial first-round submission win against Robbie Lawler in his promotional debut, Askren went on to lose to Jorge Masvidal and Demian Maia all within the same year.
Paul’s victory on Saturday night scored him his third win since turning pro in boxing. The Youtube star’s two previous bouts in the sport came against former NBA player Nate Robinson and fellow internet celebrity Ali Enson Gib – two people who had no professional boxing experience.
Both main event fighters secured large paydays for the event, per a report put out earlier in the week by MMA Fighting. Askren was given $500,000 for his appearance, while Paul was guaranteed $690,000.
Fellow MMA fighter Frank Mir also made his boxing debut on the card, fighting to a unanimous decision loss against Steve Cunningham after six rounds. Mir entered the fight significantly heavier than Cunningham, coming in at 276 pounds, which was 70 pounds more than his opponent.
The event on Saturday was presented by Triller, the same company that put together an exhibition bout between Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. last year. The broadcast focused on providing a wide range of entertainment that wasn’t exclusive to boxing. This included musical performances from names like Justin Bieber, Doja Cat and Snoop Dogg’s new group “Mount Westmore,” as well a pre-recorded slap-boxing duel.
The show had an overwhelming amount of celebrities as part of the presentation, including names like Mario Lopez, Pete Davidson and Oscar De La Hoya.