The much-maligned Triller Fight Club bout between Evander Holyfield and Vitor Belfort went down last night. Holyfield also tasted the horizontal line of defeat when he hit the canvas in the first round.
The fight started out promising, with Holyfield measuring his opponent and Belfort being extremely cautious. However, Belfort saw that Holyfield was not as spry as in his heyday and capitalized on it.
Vitor Belfort’s pressure proved to be too much for Evander Holyfield.
— ESPN Ringside (@ESPNRingside) September 12, 2021
Belfort unleashed a flurry of hooks and uppercuts, breaking through Holyfield’s guard. Holyfield then became off-balanced and eventually fell through the ropes.
With the celebrity commentary team of “Showtime” Shawn Porter and 50 Cent, the “Power” universe visionary exclaimed, “[Holyfield’s] not done yet.”
But the statement did not prove true.
Upon resumption, Belfort continued his onslaught, pummeling the stunned Holyfield until the referee stopped the bout.
Vitor Belfort just destroyed Evander Holyfield
— 𝙎𝙡𝙖𝙬𝙨𝙤𝙢𝙚🇦🇺 (@SlawsomeMMA) September 12, 2021
At the 1:49 mark of the first round, referee Samuel Burgos saved the 58-year-old Holyfield.
The Real Deal?
Confidence undented, Holyfield assured the world during the post-fight interview that he had not been in danger.
“The guy’s strong, but I wasn’t hurt,” said Holyfield. “The thing is, it wasn’t no shot that really hurt me real bad. He was strong, and he hit me with a shot, and I was off-balance. And then he bumped me with his shoulder.
“I think it was a bad call,” Holyfield said. “I think the referee should chill out. He shouldn’t stop the fight that quick.”
However, Belfort, 44, who improved to 2-0 as a pro boxer, was adamant that the performance justified his entrance into the sport.
“Like I said, I came to knock people out,” Belfort said. “You know, you bring it, I bring it back. I bring it harder. We’ve got a list of opponents. Get ready, boxers!
“You’ve gotta come to my world. Here at Triller, we’re gonna make this even. We’re gonna make this even. Champions, don’t be afraid of weight divisions, put in fine if I lose the weight, pound. Come fight me! Meet me at a weight! Let’s do it!”
The Big Problem With Boxing
The controversial fight happened after Belfort’s original opponent, Oscar De La Hoya, contracted COVID-19. Once Holyfield was announced, the boxing world erupted over the thought of someone almost 60 years old fighting professionally again.
The Florida commission examining Evander Holyfield pic.twitter.com/xXqLNghjo9
— Seán Sheehan (@SeanSheehanBA) September 10, 2021
The California State Athletic Commission refused to sanction bout. Initially slated for the Staples Center, Triller had to take the Fight Club event to Florida and the Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood, Florida.
The Florida Athletic Commission and the Seminole Tribe allowed the event in the Sunshine State, and many felt the go-ahead was a black eye for boxing. During the same weekend, Oscar Valdez defeated Robson Conceicao in Arizona on another Indian reservation casino.
Valdez had a banned substance in his system, and the boxing world cried foul at allowing the fight to occur. In addition, the WBC took a blow for keeping the battle a title bout.
Still, the fact that Holyfield lost in the first round was the best possible outcome for an untenable situation. Scheduled for eight two-minute rounds, based on the pace of Holyfield, any more rounds would have been horrible.
Boxing will still have to atone for allowing events like Holyfield vs. Belfort to occur. The dichotomy of veteran athletes continuing to live out their dreams juxtaposed against the reality of their limitations is heartbreaking.
However, capitalism drives the red light district of sports, and that truism will allow almost anything to happen for entertainment.