Evander Holyfield thought he deserved a longer leash in his main event bout with Vitor Belfort at Triller Fight Club.
Holyfield, a legendary former boxing champion, competed in his first bout since 2011 on Saturday at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Fla. He was stopped by TKO late in the first round of the contest.
Belfort, a former UFC light heavyweight titleholder, came out of the gate quick as he’s made a career of doing. He landed an uppercut that stunned and dropped Holyfield. The 58-year-old made it back to his feet, but struggled to fully recover as Belfort continued to pressure with punches.
The referee saw Holyfield couldn’t fully get his bearings back in that moment, and Belfort wasn’t letting up, so he stepped in and waved it off while Holyfield was still on his feet. That rubbed Holyfield the wrong way. He thought he still had more to show, which he expressed during his post-fight interview with Todd Grisham and 50 Cent.
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“I wasn’t hurt,” Holyfield said on the broadcast. “The thing is, there wasn’t no shot that hurt me really bad. He’s strong and he got that shot and I was off balance.”
Holyfield elaborated and downright slammed the referee’s work.
“I think it was a bad call,” Holyfield said. “I think the referee shouldn’t stop the fight that quick.”
For many observers, watching Holyfield step back into the ring was both a nostalgic and concerning moment. He turns 59 next month, and has had problems receiving licensure dating back nearly 17 years. The Florida State Athletic Commission approved him to step into the ring, though.
There was a legitimate fear something true bad could happen to Holyfield prior to stepping in the ring, and he confirmed afterward that he felt in good physical condition.
“No, I’m not hurt,” Holyfield said. “It’s kind of sad. It is what it is.”
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