HOLLYWOOD, Fla. — Evander Holyfield, 5 weeks shy of his 59th birthday, was stopped on his ft by former UFC champion Vitor Belfort simply 1:49 into the opening spherical Saturday evening on the Onerous Rock Lodge & On line casino.
Belfort, 44, swarmed Holyfield from the opening bell and by no means let up within the Triller Struggle Membership major occasion, as former President Donald Trump watched from the commentary sales space. Holyfield, the previous heavyweight champion and one in all boxing’s all-time greats, confirmed no resistance in his first struggle since 2011.
A flurry of punches despatched Holyfield to the canvas, and after he beat the depend, Belfort let his palms go till the ref correctly stopped the struggle, saving Holyfield from additional punishment.
“Did you see what he did to me? He tried to knock me out,” Belfort instructed ESPN when requested if he felt regret for Holyfield contemplating his superior age. “He threw a tough cross and onerous hooks. Instincts are onerous, and instincts sit back.
“He got here very onerous to start with. It is a struggle. He is a legend. … My type has at all times been like that.”
Belfort, who was boxing for simply the second time after an illustrious MMA profession, mentioned he did not know if the bout would depend on his official report.
Holyfield (44-10-2, 29 KOs), who landed just one punch, accepted the project on eight days’ discover after Oscar De La Hoya examined constructive for COVID-19. De La Hoya-Belfort was sanctioned by the California State Athletic Fee, however government director Andy Foster refused to sanction Holyfield-Belfort as even an exhibition.
Triller moved the complete occasion to the opposite coast, the place it discovered a much more forgiving fee. Triller already had an obligation to Holyfield after signing him to a deal earlier this yr in hopes it might match him with Mike Tyson in a follow-up to the huge industrial success of the Tyson-Roy Jones Jr. exhibition in November.
Tyson and Holyfield fought twice, in 1996 and 1997, in two of the most important fights of all time. Within the first bout, Ring Journal’s 1996 struggle of the yr, Holyfield upset Tyson with an Eleventh-round TKO. The rematch, in fact, was the notorious “Chunk Struggle.”
Holyfield was set to fulfill Kevin McBride in an exhibition in June, however the bout by no means materialized. As a substitute, he fought Belfort, a much more formidable foe.
“That is the primary time my youngsters ever instructed me … ‘Dad, you do not must be getting hit,'” Holyfield instructed ESPN on Wednesday. “At the least I am combating anyone that I do know I can defend myself [against]. The entire thing’s about safety. You do not turn out to be a great fighter till you know the way to not get hit. … I do know all of the issues that is essential to be secure.”
Holyfield could not defend himself Saturday evening — in any respect. At his finest, he was one of the vital ferocious fighters the game has ever seen, a Corridor of Fame boxer beloved for his never-say-die perspective and gritty motion fights.
His three fights with Riddick Bowe made up one of the vital memorable trilogies of all time. His victory over an growing old George Foreman was one of many first main pay-per-view occasions. However that was a very long time in the past.
“It is sort of onerous to show down a giant sum of one thing when you already know you are able to do it,” Holyfield mentioned Wednesday. “Plus you gotta perceive, they saying struggle anyone who boxing ain’t his factor.”
Belfort’s solely different professional boxing match was in 2006, a first-round knockout victory in his native Brazil. It is onerous to say if Belfort has any boxing capacity, as a result of he by no means actually had an opportunity to point out it on this evening. He did not must.
“He is probably the most completely satisfied man in the entire whole world proper now,” Belfort mentioned of De La Hoya.
Saturday evening marked Belfort’s first motion since Might 2018, a second-round knockout loss to Lyoto Machida at UFC 224. That was Belfort’s fourth loss in six Octagon appearances. He introduced his retirement after the bout.
His MMA profession could be over, however there’s certainly extra money to be made in boxing, a sport that is embracing novelty occasions like these in the meanwhile.