The top cruiserweight boxers in the world, according to the impartial Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, include the likes of Jai Opetaia, Mairis Breidis, and Lawrence Okolie. You will not find Jake Paul or Anderson Silva anywhere on that list — or even within a couple hundred names of cracking that list.
But what Paul and Silva lack in professional boxing pedigree, they more than make up for in mainstream recognition. Good luck finding an American household in which Opetaia, Breidis, or Okolie is a household name. On the other hand, Paul and Silva, with a combined nine pro boxing matches between them, are able to command a $59.99 price for their showdown on Showtime Pay-Per-View.
It’s a social media influencer-turned-cruiserweight boxing prospect (who also now happens to be a sports betting industry entrepreneur) vs. an MMA icon who has dabbled in boxing with some success. It’s a 25-year-old vs. a 47-year-old. It’s something of a sideshow fight — perhaps at the precise midpoint between Tonya Harding vs. Paula Jones and Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier.
But Paul-Silva is an event with mainstream crossover appeal and much closer betting odds at BetMGM than most major boxing matches provide.
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Paul vs. Silva fight details
Date: Saturday, Oct. 29
Channel: Showtime Pay-Per-View
Start time: 9 p.m. ET (Paul-Silva main event approximately 11:30 p.m. ET)
Location: Gila River Arena, Glendale, Arizona
BetMGM odds: Paul -165, Silva +130
Will youth be served?
The odds on the Paul-Silva fight reflect a bout in which nobody knows quite what to expect.
Paul has run up a pro record of 5-0 (4 KOs) against foes who had a grand total of zero pro boxing victories among them. But given “The Problem Child’s” novice status, the opposition has been reasonably credible — and increasingly so with each bout.
First came fellow YouTuber “AnEsonGib” in January 2020, then former NBA player Nate Robinson, then faded MMA fighters Ben Askren and Tyron Woodley. Paul struggled to a split decision over Woodley in their first fight but knocked him cold in the rematch last December.
While Paul was finger painting and potty training, “Spider” Silva was putting together one of the finest resumes in UFC history and building a reputation as an elite striker — meaning he had an MMA skill set with potential to translate to the boxing ring.
His first pro boxing match, as a 165-pounder in 1998 — when Paul was 16 months old — ended in a first-round stoppage defeat. Silva tried again in ’05 and scored a KO win of his own. With his MMA career winding down, Silva scored a surprising eight-round split decision over former title challenger Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in June 2021, and he then improved to 3-1 (2 KOs) as a pro by starching fellow UFC great Tito Ortiz in one round three months later.
BetMGM’s bookmakers have made Paul the favorite. In the two-way market, in which a draw would result in a refund, Paul is -165, Silva +130. The three-way line features prices of -160 for Paul, +138 for Silva, and +1200 should the scheduled eight-rounder end in a draw.
The lines were closer to even money when the bout was first announced, but chatter this week that Silva got knocked out in sparring — which the veteran fighter has since denied — seems to have driven money Paul’s way.
While Paul is improving with every fight and is probably still approaching his physical prime at 25, Silva is heading in the opposite direction at 47. But what some see as an age disadvantage, others perceive as a massive edge in poise and experience.
The method-of-victory props suggest that Paul winning by decision is the most likely outcome, at +188. Silva by KO, TKO, or disqualification is next at +220, followed by Paul by KO/TKO/DQ at +225. The longshot is Silva on points at +600.
There are also props available on either boxer to end the fight in any given round, ranging from +1400 (Silva KO 4 or KO 5) to +2800 (Paul KO 8).
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Photo: Esther Lin/Showtime