A Sea of X-Factors Surround Holyfield vs. Belfort Boxing Match

Evander Holyfield and Vitor Belfort
Evander Holyfield and Vitor Belfort face off ahead of their boxing match. Photo: Amanda Westcott/Triller Fight Club

Evander Holyfield is a living legend, but he still has a tall order in front of him to beat former UFC champion Vitor Belfort on a week’s notice at Triller Fight Club.

No one could have imagined Evander Holyfield’s return would happen quite like this.  He was set to fight Kevin McBride earlier this year in what would have been his first bout since 2011 and a precursor to another fight with his former nemesis Mike Tyson that would sell nostalgia by the boatload.  As it happens, the postponement of the event led to Holyfield getting lost in the conversation.  But things change quickly in the fight game.  Oscar De La Hoya announced on Friday that he was positive for COVID-19, and by that evening Holyfield had agreed to step in.  The California state athletic commission was not about to approve the bout, so the event was moved from De La Hoya’s backyard of Los Angeles to the other side of the country in Hollywood, Florida.

Holyfield (44-10-2) is regarded as one of the best heavyweights of all-time, who enjoyed success in the 90’s and early 2000’s in winning the WBC, WBA, and IBF championships.  He is best known for his fights with the likes of Tyson, Lennox Lewis, Larry Holmes, Riddick Bowe, and others.  “The Real Deal” also parlayed his boxing fame into numerous crossover opportunities: going on reality shows such as Dancing with the Stars (both in America and Argentina), Celebrity Big Brother, and small roles in television and film where he often parodied himself.  But while he has kept himself in shape, he nonetheless enters the bout at 58 years old and on a week’s notice.  Furthermore, he gave a showing at his open workout that had those concerned for his safety hoping he is keeping his cards close to his chest.

Longtime fans of the UFC will always remember Vitor Belfort as the fresh faced teenager who took the cage by storm when he was 19.  He went on to have iconic knockouts in the past three decades, and along the way facing his share of legends in Jon Jones, Anderson Silva, Tito Ortiz, Rich Franklin, and plenty more.  While he went on to have title shots in the modern era, he is best remembered for winning the heavyweight tournament as a teenager and later briefly holding the light heavyweight title in the 2000’s.

Belfort last fought in 2018, losing to his countryman Lyoto Machida by knockout in their native Brazil.  By that time, the vaunted speed, explosiveness, and power of “The Phenom” was long gone as he has struggled to put together victories in the past several years.  Belfort has not boxed since 2006 and his durability is in question as he is facing a far different challenge on Saturday than he expected a week ago.

As previously discussed, Holyfield may be older but he is physically bigger and taller than De La Hoya.  At 58 years old, the major x-factors around Holyfield at this stage are his durability and conditioning on a week’s notice.  The former champion has forgotten more boxing than most people know, but a fight with Vitor Belfort on a week’s notice is a handful for any athlete.  For Holyfield, keeping the fight on the ropes where he can use his size to wear on Belfort is his best route to victory.  For Belfort, the smaller Triller ring means he will not be able to move as freely as one would recommend.  Instead he will need to be the aggressor and tie up the former heavyweight champion frequently if he is expected outwork Holyfield.  His sheer speed and volume should be enough advantage, but it only works if he methodically picks his spots to engage with his larger foe.

A Holyfield victory would ramp up interest in a fight with Mike Tyson, with the Triller platform likely being the host.  A Belfort victory would also open up possibilities, with “The Phenom” already having thrown out names like Oscar De La Hoya or Youtubers Jake and Logan Paul  being the frontrunners.