By: Hans Themistode
Originally, it seemed unlikely bordering on impossible.
With Oscar De La Hoya forced to withdraw from his showdown against Vitor Belfort due to the former six-division world champion testing positive for COVID-19, the entire card appeared destined to be scrapped.
Yet, with Evander Holyfield happily stepping in to save the show, public outrage has immediately occurred. To add fire to the flames, not only is Holyfield set to return to the ring after spending a decade away from it but at the age of 58, his showdown against Belfort has officially been sanctioned by the Florida State Boxing Commission as a full-blown boxing match.
According to Patrick Cunningham, Executive Director of the commission, both boxers have met all requirements necessary and have been granted a boxing license. Originally, their contest was set to take place as an exhibition. Now, Holyfield will be allowed the opportunity to add the 45 win to his Hall of Fame career.
Both Belfort and Holyfield will take place in the main event slot at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida. Despite the authenticity of their contest, the pair will have eight, two-minute rounds to work with, as opposed to the customary three-minute rounds in men’s boxing.
Several decades ago, Holyfield carved out one of the greatest careers in boxing history, winning multiple world titles in both the cruiserweight and heavyweight divisions. Most recently, Holyfield decided to hang up his gloves after a tenth-round stoppage win over Brian Nielsen in 2011.
As Holyfield walked through the ropes during a recent open workout, the Atlanta native showed his age. He was visibly slower in letting his hands go but has continued to work diligently towards his comeback.
While Belfort may have built his name and reputation in the UFC’s octagon, the Brazilian native isn’t entirely a newbie boxer. In 2006, Belfort made his sole appearance in the ring, scoring a first-round stoppage win against Josemario Neves.
Also set to make an appearance on the card will be fellow former UFC fighters, Tito Ortiz and Anderson Silva. In addition to that, former two-division champion David Haye, will end his three-year retirement to take on good friend, Joe Fournier.