While there’s all the reason in the world to wish it wasn’t so, Evander Holyfield’s short-notice fight this weekend against Vitor Belfort has been sanctioned as a professional boxing match.
News that the Florida Boxing Commission had sanctioned the bout was first reported by ESPN. The fight came together just days ago, after original headliner Oscar De La Hoya was forced out of the bout after contracting COVID-19. With Belfort in need of an opponent, legendary heavyweight Holyfield stepped in — forcing the entire event to shift to Florida, due to the California State Athletic Commission being unlikely to green light the match-up.
Holyfield, a former heavyweight champion, posted a 44-10-2 (1NC) record as a pro. But at 58-years old, he’s a decade removed from his last fight, and quickly approaching his 59th birthday.
Belfort, of course, is best known for his MMA career, primarily his runs under the Ultimate Fighting Championship banner. Earlier this year, he was linked to a fight with “The Real Tarzann” Mike Holtson, a social media celebrity with no formal combat sports experience. The fight was expected to feature on the undercard of Teofimo Lopez vs. George Kambosos Jr., until Lopez was forced out also due to a COVID-19 positive.
With that fight off, Triller opted to give Belfort his own card. Looking to cash in off the MMA to boxing craze, they’ve also booked Anderson Silva vs. Tito Ortiz on the undercard, with “The Spider” Silva being the only fighter among the four men to have a notable boxing victory in years.
As for Saturday’s main event, Holyfield vs. Belfort will be contested under the Unified Rules of Boxing, using the 10-point must system. Three judges will score the bout, which will consist of eight two minute rounds.
Holyfield vs. Belfort will take place Saturday, September 11, 2021 at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood, FL.
Update: On Friday, Triller exec Ryan Kavanaugh told ESPN that Holyfield had expressed concern about the bout counting on his official record. As a result, the promotion will honor his wish and it will officially be counted as an exhibition bout, but still held under pro rules with a winner announced.
“If Holyfield doesn’t want this to go on his BoxRec (official boxing record) due to his age, we’ll allow him to make the decision and still follow all the other rules,” Kavanaugh told ESPN. He would go on to add that “We’ve spoken to Holyfield and Vitor and the commission. No matter what, this will be scored as a pro fight, there will be a clear winner, and it will be treated with pro rules.”