HOLLYWOOD, Fla. — Evander Holyfield doesn’t want anyone worrying about him.
Fighting for the first time in almost a decade, Holyfield is aware that there are questions about him returning to boxing just a month shy of his 59th birthday. He meets former UFC champion Vitor Belfort, 44, in the main event of the “Legends 2” Triller Fight Club event this Saturday at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, a matchup that was made after Holyfield was called in on less than two weeks’ notice to replace Oscar De La Hoya.
De La Hoya withdrew after being hospitalized due to COVID-19.
With Holyfield having been retired since 2011 with 57 pro bouts and countless amateur bouts under his belt, he was asked if he’s particularly concerned about his well-being especially having been brought in on such short notice. Holyfield’s answer is that he is at home in the boxing ring.
“The fact of the matter is that this thing came about and I’m looking out for my safety,” Holyfield said during a media session Thursday. “What is the thing about? It’s just boxing. OK then, one thing I know, I can keep from getting hurt in boxing because I know how to cover up. That’s it. I know how to cover up, so that’s what the art of the game is.”
Another reason that fans might be concerned for Holyfield is the fact that he’s facing Belfort, who despite having almost no boxing experience was well known for his fearsome knockout power during his time in the UFC. “The Phenom” is tied with Derrick Lewis and Matt Brown for the most knockouts in UFC history with 12.
That’s another aspect of the fight Holyfield refuses to get hung up on.
“I don’t even think about it,” Holyfield said. “My whole thing I have to think about what I do. Anytime I get too caught up worrying about somebody else, I’m like something might happen to me. Now he’s got to worry about himself and I’ve got to worry about myself. That’s it.”
The public got their first view of Holyfield’s preparation for the fight on Wednesday when he conducted an open workout, and the uneventful footage invited another wave of skepticism for Saturday’s main event. Holyfield is shrugging off the criticism and focusing on Saturday night.
“I don’t actually look at that as a workout,” Holyfield said. “I did some of the things, I can do this, I can do this, I don’t know if they thought it was good or bad. It really don’t make no difference because the night of the fight, that’s what counts.”