Hasim Rahman Jr. accused Team Jake Paul of using underhanded tactics – and outright bullying – to get him to sign for their Aug. 6 pay-per-view headliner at Madison Square Garden.
On Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour, Rahman Jr. said Paul’s team mislead him by making it seem like there was interest in hiring him again as a sparring partner. After Rahman revealed information about his weight and training, he said Team Paul offered a take-it-or-leave it fight with Paul.
“It was a little shady,” Rahman Jr. said. “His coach called me, and he’s asking me how much I weigh, how I’m feeling about my last fight, what I’ve been doing in the gym, how much I’ve been sparring … but he was asking me under the pretense that I would come in and spar Jake as a southpaw for the Anderson Silva [fight].
“I’m thinking they’re about to call me back and get me on a flight to Puerto Rico to help them out for Anderson. An hour later, I get a call saying they want to fight. So all those questions were really trying to line me up to fight me. It was never a sparring situation.”
Rahman Jr., the son of former heavyweight boxing champ Hasim Rahman, weighed his options and immediately saw the opportunity in facing Paul, a two-time sparring partner and a popular target among experienced boxers who want to “expose” the social media star turned pugilist. He said he nevertheless asked for a few hours to weigh his options – and instead was given an ultimatum.
“No, you have to respond within 45 minutes, before the top of the hour, or the offer’s off, and you’ll never get the opportunity to fight Jake Paul again,” he said of Team Paul’s response.
Rahman Jr., who is 12-1 in the ring, conceded the money to fight Paul on Aug. 6 was more than he’d ever made in professional boxing. But it also came with some hefty strings attached around his weight.
The 31-year-old boxer said the contract demands 25 percent of his purse for every pound he is over. Save for a four-ounce allowance on the 200 pounds he is required to make at the official weigh-ins and a 214-pound limit at noon on fight night, he said a four-pound overage could leave him making only $5,000. (He did not specify whether he is also entitled to a “win” bonus or any other type of compensation.)
“They are that scared that they want to put that much pressure on me to make the weight to say you’re going to lose 25 percent for every pound you’re over,” Rahman Jr. said.
Paul’s Most Valuable Promotions co-founder, Nakisa Bidarian, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Rahman Jr.’s claim.
Rahman Jr. thought the sparring partner gambit was a “dirty move,” but he added “you can’t put anything past anybody in this business.” He said he planned to expose other dishonest practices at the press conference for their fight before the gathering was ended early.
Of the sparring session Paul released that put Rahman Jr. in an unflattering light, the boxer said he was only trying to give the YouTuber some good advice before it became clear he was being set up to look bad.
“I was going to tell him, ‘In boxing, this don’t count – the sparring don’t count,’” Rahman Jr. said. “But to Jake, sparring is like a fight, because obviously he has no amateur experience. So if he’s doing well against a professional, he’s thinking, ‘Oh, I can really do this, I can really do this to a guy.’
“I was just trying to humble him a little bit and tell him, I’m in here handicapped a bit. … I knew he was going to chop it up the way he did – that’s what you see where I was upset in the video, like, ‘No, you being disrespectful now.’ It had nothing to do with the actual boxing, the sparring session. It was just his disrespect for the sport and for what we were doing.
“I came to give you a look. I didn’t come to beat you up, or to see if you were even on my level, or you were ready for this level. I was actually was asked by your coaches no to knock you out. I was told that if you knock him out, you’re most likely not going to get paid.”
Before things went south, Rahman Jr. gave Paul credit as a tough guy making an honest run in boxing. Others, he said, quickly bowed out after their first punch to the mouth, but the influencer took his licks and kept coming.
Now, seeing the other side of a Jake Paul negotiation, Rahman Jr. is intent on humbling his opponent the old-fashioned way. In sparring, he rarely used his left hand and spent 30 seconds of the final round in southpaw stance – at the request of Paul’s coaches, whom he said pleaded “he’s an asshole, he’s going to to this – just don’t knock him out.”
“I’m going to hit him as hard as I can hit him, and I’m going to hit him with both my hands,” Rahman Jr. “I think he’s bit off more than he can chew. … I just use everything against me as motivation.”