Holyfield, Belfort, and Trump

By Robert Ecksel on September 10, 2021

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Saturday’s show is being hyped as “The Most Anticipated Heavyweight Fight of the Year.”

Boxing looks increasingly like a stunt sport these days. First it was white-collar boxing, where novices could enter the ring and be taken more or less seriously. Some hoped celebrity boxing, an inevitable outgrowth for B-list celebrities, would put an end to the nonsense. But the latest concoction being served up on Triller this Saturday between former cruiser and heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield and former UFC light heavyweight champ Vitor Belfort suggests, for not the first or last time, that serious boxing is giving way for something dangerous as well as frivolous.

 

Holyfield stepped in as a last minute replacement for ailing Oscar De La Hoya. He last fought a decade ago.

 

“When Oscar De La Hoya came down with COVID they asked me to fight Vitor Belfort,” he said. “Training is what I do. Like I tell the young people, if you do things right, it will work out for you, that works for older folks too.”

 

Belfort is no spring chicken. He’s 44, 14 years younger than Holyfield, confirming that Holyfield is indeed “older folks,” especially by boxing’s stringent standards. But Saturday’s show may be less about boxing than spectacle and distraction. The California State Athletic Commission nixed the fight out of concern for Holyfield’s health. Florida, by contrast, had no misgivings.

 

“Boxing is a game and I know how to prepare for it against Vitor Belfort,” Holyfield assured wary consumers. “I’m sure if I was getting in his game, I’d be in trouble. But he’s getting into my game so he’s in trouble.

 

“I’ve been training for over two years because there were fights mentioned against other fighters. I realize now as I prepare to face Belfort I’m in good shape and I don’t get out of shape. I think I look alright but this is after two years of solid training.”

 

Holyfield may have overtrained. Hitting the pads during a recent media workout, he didn’t look alright. He looked old. He looked slow. He looked unsteady, labored and tentative. In other words, he looks like a great former champion who has no business fighting, even an 8-round exhibition with 2-minute rounds against a one-time UFC star who never fought an actual boxing match.

 

Holyfield vs. Belfort, which is being hyped as “The Most Anticipated Heavyweight Fight of the Year,” is notable, insofar as it is notable, for the return of Jim Lampley. Teamed with Shawn Porter, Lampley will be handling blow-by-blow for the first time since HBO quit boxing. Some were glad to see him go. Most were not. But it’s unfortunate, or perhaps sad, that this is the fight Lamps will be calling; still, it’s not nearly as sad as the alternate “gamecast” by former President Donald Trump and his idiot son Don Jr. Some of what they say will be memorable. Some of it may even be factual.

 

“I like great fighters and great fights,” the former president said in a statement. “I look forward to seeing you this Saturday night and sharing my thoughts in the ring. You don’t want to miss this special event.” 

 

In addition to liking great fighters and great fights, Trump also likes money.

 

According to TMZ, “‘Multiple sources with direct knowledge’ of the deal say that Trump is ‘bragging’ about making an ‘obscene’ amount of money providing ‘live, alternative commentary’ on the Evander Holyfield/Vitor Belfort fight. We're told Triller, the media company behind the event, is paying a fortune ... millions and millions for his blow-by-blow analysis.”

 

There are boxing heads who suppose that quantity trumps quality, that social media types like Logan and Jake Paul, with their millions of followers, and Evander Holyfield, with his millions of memories, are somehow good for boxing in that they will help it grow.

 

But grow into what?