Former US professional boxer Evander Holyfield falls on Saturday during a fight with Brazilian martial artist Vitor Belfort in Hollywood, Florida. Photo: VCG
Former world heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield watched his 58-year-old in a first round knockout loss to mixed martial arts star Vitor Belfort on Saturday.
With former US President Donald Trump commenting on the show at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood, Fla., The Brazilian from Belfort unleashed an early flurry that ended with Holyfield sliding down the ropes.
The great American ring has regained its footing to be sent to the mat by a combination of Belfort. He beat the Earl, but after absorbing another flurry of punches without throwing any, the referee stopped the fight over Holyfield’s objections.
“I was not injured,” insisted Holyfield, who called the decision to stop the fight “a little sad.”
“It is what it is,” he said. “I think that’s a bad call.”
Holyfield was fighting for the first time since defeating Brian Nielsen in 2011 to cap a glorious career in the ring.
Holyfield won 1984 Olympic gold as a light heavyweight and went on to dominate the professional cruiserweight division before entering the tradition of prize fighting as a heavyweight.
He is best known for a heavyweight championship race which included two wins over Mike Tyson, one of them the infamous “Bite Fight”, a victory over George Foreman and a victory over Riddick Bowe in their punitive trilogy. .
Holyfield (44-10 with two draws and 29 KOs) accepted Belfort’s fight with eight days’ notice after Oscar de la Hoya tested positive for COVID-19.
Holyfield said he was ready, having prepared for a proposed comeback fight against Kevin McBride that did not go down.
When asked after the fight if he was still interested in having a rematch with his former nemesis Tyson, Holyfield replied, “Of course.”
But even Trump, who tirelessly boosted Holyfield throughout his undercard commentary, seemed baffled by the ex-champion’s performance.
“No, it’s not the same,” Trump said. “From the start it wasn’t the same fighter. He lost a lot. It wasn’t Evander Holyfield.”
Trump received an enthusiastic reception from fans at the Florida site, where he arrived after visiting New York City on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
He did a dig for President Joe Biden and a hold for his friend Dana White, promoter of mixed martial arts brand Ultimate Fighting Championship, in low key comments alongside his son Donald Trump Jr.
The former president is no stranger to boxing, his hosting of major fights in his hotels and casinos having earned him a place in the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame.
Trump’s commentary for the map developed by Triller, the music video app that tries to break into boxing with its streaming platform Triller Fight Club, included memories of past fights and fighters as well as random observations on the sport.
“It’s like an election, it could also be rigged,” Trump noted of some questionable fighting results he has seen in the past.