Evander Holyfield’s return to the ring didn’t go anywhere near as planned.
Holyfield, in his first fight in more than a decade, fell to UFC Hall of Famer Vitor Belfort via a first round TKO on Saturday night at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida.
Belfort had Holyfield, now 58, stumbling around the ring out of control for most of the first round before the official called it off. Holyfield seemed like he never stood much of a chance.
— ESPN Ringside (@ESPNRingside) September 12, 2021
Holyfield struggled to get his footing early on, and at one point he lost his balance and nearly fell through the ropes and out of the ring entirely. Belfort got a knockdown shortly after Holyfield got back up, and then landed nearly two dozen uncontested shots before the official stopped the match.
“The guy pushed me. The guy’s strong,” Holyfield said after the loss. “I wasn’t hurt … The thing is, it wasn’t no shot that really hurt me real bad. He’s just strong and he gave me a shot and I fell down.”
Holyfield said he wasn't hurt at all after the fight, and that he didn't think the official should have stopped the fight when he did.
“It’s kind of sad. It is what it is,” he said of the whole experience.
Holyfield was a late addition to the event, as he replaced Oscar de la Hoya after he tested positive for COVID-19 less than two weeks ago. Holyfield hasn’t fought since 2011 — when he beat Brian Nielsen with a 10th round TKO. He held a 44-10-2 overall record with 29 knockouts headed into Saturday’s bout, and last held a major heavyweight title in 2000.
Belfort has only boxed professionally once in his career, having knocked out Josemario Neves in 2006. The former UFC champion, however, boasts a 26-14 record in the Octagon. He last fell to Lyoto Machida in 2018.
Belfort calls out Jake Paul
Though the event was full of stunning, strange moments — including a speech from former President Donald Trump and a woman being ejected from the venue during a moment of silence honoring the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks — Belfort is clearly trying to use it as a stepping stone for a bigger bout.
He now has his eyes set on Jake Paul.
Belfort called out Paul, saying he wanted to fight the YouTuber turned fighter next. Triller even stepped in and offered a $30 million prize for a fight around Thanksgiving.
— theScore (@theScore) September 12, 2021
“Hey Jake, you got my respect but I’m going to put you in my lap,” Belfort said on the broadcast. “You’re going to cry like a baby.”
Trump offers commentary, delivers praise to Belfort after win
Trump provided commentary on an alternate stream of the fight.
“You could see right from the beginning, [Holyfield] was not the same fighter," Trump said after the fight was stopped, via USA Today. "That left jab was very slow. He’s lost a lot.’’
Trump then spoke directly to Belfort from his box after the win, and called the Brazilian a "great patriot."