YouTube star Deji is about to fight Floyd Mayweather in a massive exhibition bout, but it wasn't too long ago that he was crying himself to sleep after back-to-back stoppage losses.
Jake Paul made his white collar boxing debut against Deji back in August 2018 at the Manchester Arena, and landed a fifth round stoppage after the Brit ultimately succumbed to his superior work rate despite a strong start. He took three years out of the ring before returning against male model Vinnie Hacker, who stopped him within three rounds in a much worse showing.
And prior to turning his life around under coach Daley Perales and personal trainer Leon Wills, the Watford native admitted that he was struggling mentally after his humiliating defeats. He looked much improved in a split decision loss to Alex Wassabi this year, and ultimately got his win against Yusef 'Fousey' Erakat at The O2 arena in August.
"I've actually never admitted this any time, this is mad, I used to cry myself to sleep a lot," Deji told True Geordie on his podcast. "I would just be like 'I'm a failure, what's my actual purpose?' No-one [knew], honestly that was just a me moment and I was doing stupid stuff like spending stupid amounts of money just to kind of cope with things."
He had been praised in defeat after the Paul fight, but didn't train properly for his return against Hacker and despite a massive favourite tag was defeated in even quicker time. It took until this year for him to begin taking boxing seriously, and he is now one of the most beloved fighters in the YouTube space.
"People were saying 'oh Deji did so well' in the Jake fight, but I took a loss as a loss and I let that loss get to me," he explained. "I was a very confident guy, and after that loss I kind of became sheltered, I didn't go out as much - I took the loss way harder essentially than I should have.
"Obviously I didn't take the fight seriously and I was being clowned, being told 'see you could have been Jake if you just put the work in' and that kind of thing. It was multiple people being like 'see, you should have done this or that', so I just let it get to me way harder than it should have.
"Before this whole boxing thing I was just doing my thing, this bubbly guy and I was like 'screw it let me do this boxing fight'. The whole build-up to the boxing fight was fun as well, I didn't really take it that seriously and I was always going to s*** talk."
Image:Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
He had a heart-to-heart with a close friend before his second outing, but it wasn't the right time for him to be getting back in the ring and he felt the results on the night. "Before the Vinnie fight, I had a chat with [close pal and chef] Shane," he added. "There was no press conference or anything.
"And he said to me that when his friends bad mouthed me he couldn't say anything nice. I hadn't really shown anything good, he said 'right now you're not enjoying it, you can see that there's no happiness there', and I was forcing a character or something. I was taken aback that he said that and he was like 'why don't you show people what you can really do in the ring? I know you can fight'.
"But then when the Vinnie Hacker fight came around I took the p*** again. I am lazy, not as lazy as I used to be, but I was always handed things quite easily and even boxing I grasped quite easily. I essentially got things given to me, not that I wanted them given to me because I remember saying at the beginning of my whole YouTube thing with JJ [his brother KSI] that I don't want it to be where I got everything from him. I wanted to kind of show that I can do things myself as well."