Just days removed from his first-round knockout to Jake Paul, Ben Askren has come forward and shut down speculation that the boxing event was rigged for him to lose.
Askren’s first boxing fight didn’t quite go according to plan. A rapid first-round KO saw Paul advance to a 3-0 record with Askren forced back into retirement. While the PPV event generated tens of millions and drew interest from around the world, some viewers quickly ran away with an intriguing theory.
Was the fight rigged all along? Footage soon emerged that showed Askren happily leaving the arena mere moments after the knockout. As a result, many began to speculate that he may have ‘taken a dive’ for a quick paycheck – a paycheck considerably larger than anything he ever took home in the UFC.
Speaking with ESPN’s Ariel Helwani after the fact, Askren has now put a stop to this line of thinking. “It definitely didn’t happen,” he confirmed. “I got hit.”
Despite the quick defeat, the former Olympian assured that ‘throwing the fight’ was never even considered. “I’m not destitute and poor. What do I gain by that? The answer is nothing, I think I would actually lose a lot. That’s not something that would ever cross my mind.”
Having competed at the highest level of combat sports for more than a decade, Askren retired with an MMA record of 19-2. For viewers that questioned the legitimacy of his final bout with a YouTuber, he believes it’s only “human nature.”
In the lead-up to the fight, and even in the locker room just minutes before, Askren was “pretty confident [he] was going to win.” Things ultimately didn’t play out in his favor but by no means was the event rigged.
It all just came down to not “defending the overhand right,” according to Askren. “He’s got a good overhand right. I didn’t defend it well enough.”
Throughout his entire MMA career, he “wanted” his opponents to throw that same strike in order to set up an “easy” takedown. It was “a hard habit to break” and that resulted in a first-round KO.
The relevant topic begins at the 9:40 mark below.
While it was a “highly embarrassing” result, Askren walks away with no regrets now that it’s all said and done.
As for Paul, he’s still got a rich future ahead with countless social media stars calling him out to be next in line. There’s no telling who he might face next, but it’s sure to draw just as much interest coming off another flash KO.