Bourland Ready For Coming-Out Party With Paul

Most not knowing who Ryan Bourland is didn’t stop him landing the biggest fight of his life.

On March 2 at the Coliseo Jose Miguel Agrelot in San Juan, Puerto Rico, he will fight Jake Paul over eight rounds. 

“I was thinking about making a shirt that said ‘Who the f*** is Ryan Bourland?’, because that is what everyone keeps asking me on social media,” he said with a chuckle. 

Bourland, 35, is a career professional who, through fighting out of northern California, was previously managed by the respected Herb Stone. He featured on bills promoted by Don Chargin and Paco Damian. He was recruited as a sparring partner for Georgia’s Avtandil Khurtsidze. He just never got signed, or seen on television. 

He was a career professional, who ended his fighting career and got a job. He, simply, suffered the same fate of so many other club fighters, who live and die by the tickets they do or don’t sell. 

After moving from Vallejo, California, Bourland instead took to working in the oil fields of Dickinson, North Dakota.  

“I am just a regular guy,” he said. “I like working out; I like boxing; I like hunting. All the usual stuff.”

When asked about the contrasts between he and Paul he laughed. Bourland is in so many respects the stereotypical blue-collar American. Paul, 27, embodies a new era of internet-savvy teenagers-turned-executives. 

“I was just thinking about that the other day,” he said. “I was actually thinking about having some of the guys from the oil rigs walk me to the ring with hard hats and pipe wrenches. I might do something like that. I am representing all the hard-working folks in America, and I am going to represent us well on March 2.” 

Despite his 17-2 record (6 KOs) Bourland is considered the underdog – perhaps because he has only once previously fought above light heavyweight, but is fighting Paul at cruiserweight. What previously was on course to represent his biggest opportunity was a fight with the former WBO light heavyweight champion Joe Smith Jr.

“I was actually set to fight, but it didn’t happen,” he explained. He regardless believes he is a bigger man than Paul. 

“When we faced off I was most excited about sizing him up,” he continued. “I felt like I was maybe a little bit bigger than him. I thought he would’ve been bigger.”

Bourland was respected in his region, but overlooked outside of it. He was a proven ticket seller, but sufficiently flawed that regional promoters didn’t want to risk him at a higher level because of his ability to draw worthwhile crowds. 

In 2024, it is Paul who has presented him with the opportunity to transform his career. It is for that reason that Bourland believes that Paul is “good” for their sport.  

“Look, Jake Paul is good for boxing,” he said. “I think people don’t like him, because he is rich and just does and says whatever he wants. I think he is helping the sport a lot.”

Bourland was knocked out by Israel Duffus in 2015. He also lost his regional title via majority decision to Jose Hernandez in 2018. He avenged that defeat eight months later. Then he retired. 

His story picked back up when he was in North Dakota. A boxing gym opened. He started training again, got the itch and took a fight against Santario Martin in September 2022 at a catchweight of 185lbs and won via fifth-round stoppage. 

It was after that that he pestered anyone associated with Paul in his attempts to secure his career-defining fight. 

“I always knew we were going to fight,” he reflected. “I just knew given my weight, and my record, that it would happen. I just never knew when. I reached out and it happened sooner than I thought.”