Holyfield Humbled, Wants Tyson Next
By Robert Ecksel on September 12, 2021
“I’m still interested in fighting Mike Tyson.” (Photo: Amanda Wescott/Triller Fight Club)
Saturday night at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida, 58-year-old Evander Holyfield, in his first fight in a decade, was TKO’d in the opening round by southpaw Vitor Belfort, the retired 44-year-old UFC champ in his first (or second) formal boxing match. The time of the stoppage was 1:49.
Little was expected of the fight, given the discrepancy in their ages and experience, and it delivered on all counts.
Fighting out of the red corner in red, white and blue trunks, Holyfield more resembled a bodybuilder than boxer. He moved slowly, when he moved at all, tentatively pawing with his left hand while looking for an opening. He threw two halfhearted rights that missed. He missed with a left hook. That was about it for his output.
Belfort, fighting out of the blue corner wearing gold, was a younger, sturdier, less dinged up version of the man in the other corner. He didn’t squander the first minute of the fight with tentative rangefinder jabs. He kept his hands cocked, waiting for the moment to strike.
A straight left to Holyfield’s midsection drove him back. He stumbled or slipped on the canvas (proving once again that ad revenue takes priority over a fighter’s footing). Holyfield looked down, the wrong place to look at the wrong time, and Belfort made his move. Thudding lefts, rights and uppercuts bounced off Holyfield as he tried to bob and weave his way out of trouble. He might have been playing possum, were he not a sitting duck.
Evander thought he saw an opening and threw a Hail Mary left look which Belfort saw coming. He ducked under the punch as it whooshed overhead. The missed punch’s momentum spun Holyfield 180 degrees to his right, when a left from Belfort caught and propelled him halfway through the ropes. Holyfield got to his feet. He didn’t appear to be hurt; just old and ineffective.
The referee, Sam Burgos, ruled it a slip, despite the body shot. He wiped Holyfield’s gloves and the fight continued.
Belfort landed a left to the head and a right uppercut that appeared, after multiple viewings, to connect with Holyfield’s left armpit, and he went down a second time. He also got up a second time. Belfort was on him him and the ref waved it off.
“I’m not hurt,” said Holyfield after the bout. “It’s kind of sad. It is what it is; I think it was a bad call, I think the referee shouldn’t have stopped the fight that quick. I wasn’t able to bounce back like I used to. I let him get too close. But he’s strong and he pushed me but I wasn’t hurt. I’m not hurt at all.”
Belfort had a different take.
“It was a legendary moment for me to fight tonight,” he said. “I’m very blessed. It was a great environment here, great fights and competition. We can all learn from the sport of boxing about how to adapt. We should be more caring for each other in this great country of America. You never judge how many victories you have, you judge by the quality of your opponents. When you fight someone, the two warriors gain immediate respect for each other. For me to be able to compete with Holyfield is a dream.”
The dream doesn’t stop there, however. Belfort has other plans.
“I challenge Jake Paul to a thirty-million-dollar winner take all fight, he cannot say no to me, he needs a real fight.”
Holyfield also has plans. When asked about his future, he replied, “I’m still interested in fighting Mike Tyson.”
He might as well have said, “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears,” for all the sense a third fight makes.