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Jake Paul cleared to fight Ben Askren despite saying he has 'early signs of CTE'

·Combat columnist
·3 min read
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  • Ben Askren
    Ben Askren
    American mixed martial artist

Jake Paul was cleared to fight Ben Askren on Friday by a doctor for the Georgia Athletic Commission, despite his comments Thursday at a news conference to promote Saturday's fight at Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta that he has early signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

Matt Woodruff, the executive director of the George Commission, told Yahoo Sports by telephone that the commission's doctor had examined Paul and cleared him to fight.

Paul, a social media influencer with a reach in excess of 40 million, spoke at Thursday's news conference about the risk he is taking.

"It's a dangerous sport," Paul said. "That's why, when people question my dedication to it, it's like, I'm showing up every single day. I'm putting my mental health on the line. My brain is on the line. Like you said, I've gone and gotten brain scans and have early signs of CTE.

"I love this sport and wouldn't trade it for anything else. And I'm a fighter, and people will see that. Whether it's after Saturday night or whether it's a year from now, they will see that I'm a fighter."

A spokesperson for Triller denied that Paul has CTE and said he had an MRI that was clear. Woodruff wouldn't confirm specifically that Paul had a clear MRI, only that a commission doctor had determined he was competent to fight Askren, a former UFC star who is making his pro boxing debut.

Currently there is no way to diagnose CTE while a person is alive. CTE can only be definitively diagnosed post mortem.

Woodruff said he was busy regulating four shows and was unaware of Paul's comments. Paul released a tweet on Friday retracting the claim.

"Our doctor signed off on his physical this morning, so we did clear him based on the physical this morning," Woodruff told Yahoo Sports. Asked specifically if the Georgia doctors saw a clear MRI, Woodruff said, "I don't know the date, but we received medicals from California. They were reviewed and based upon that review, our doctor cleared him to fight."

Georgia's rules for boxing have a paragraph that deals with head injury.

Paragraph 7 (a) states, The commission will not issue a professional boxer's license to any person when the commission has reason to believe that such person has previously been diagnosed with or has suffered sub-dural hematoma or any level of intra-cerebral hemorrhage. In subsection 1, it puts the onus on the fighter by adding, "Each boxer knows or should know his or her medical history and is in a better position to protect themselves against permanent brain damage than the evaluating commission or examining physician. It is the absolute obligation of any boxer who has previously suffered any head injury as described in subparagraph 7(a) above to report that injury to the physician conducting the pre-fight physical."

The Triller spokesperson deemed Paul's claim of CTE "theatrics" and said he was trying to make himself appear tough, by showing how hard he is training.

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