Former four-time heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield filed a demand for arbitration against Triller Fight Club on Wednesday, claiming breach of contract over an exhibition bout he is under contract for with fellow Mike Tyson conqueror Kevin McBride, but which Triller has refused to reschedule, sources with knowledge of the filing told World Boxing News.
Holyfield, whose contract called for any dispute to be handled via binding arbitration, filed with the California-based firm JAMS — Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Services – which has handled several boxing arbitration cases over the years, including the recent Deontay Wilder-Tyson Fury case and the Top Rank-Golden Boy dispute over Manny Pacquiao’s contract years ago.
Holyfield has been training for around four months for the fight, only to see it postponed multiple times without a clear idea of when or if it will be rescheduled. He is seeking what is believed to be more than $5 million he is owed for the fight, for which Triller has already missed multiple deadlines to put on, according to a source.
Holyfield and McBride were originally scheduled to meet in an eight-round exhibition bout consisting of two-minute rounds without headgear on the undercard of the fight between unified lightweight world champion Teofimo Lopez and mandatory challenger George Kambosos Jr. on June 5 at Miami’s loanDepot Park, the home stadium of the MLB’s Miami Marlins.
Triller flew Holyfield and McBride to Atlanta to appear at the kickoff news conference on April 16, the day before Triller Fight Club put on the pay-per-view card at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, to help promote the June pay-per-view event.
Triller Fight Club soon after moved Lopez-Kambosos to June 19, mainly to avoid conflicting with the Floyd Mayweather exhibition that was on June 6 at nearby Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. But when the new date was announced for Lopez-Kambosos, Holyfield-McBride had been taken off the card, and Triller said it would be rescheduled for a date later in the summer.
That has not happened, and Holyfield has grown frustrated with the fight not being scheduled, according to sources.
When Lopez-Kambosos was postponed from June 19 because Lopez had come down with Covid-19 less than a week before the fight, Holyfield and McBride were willing to reschedule their fight on short notice to keep a card that Triller had already spent millions on in expenses from being canceled.
Holyfield was already in South Florida because it is where he lives, and he and McBride were both already scheduled to make appearances at Lopez-Kambosos to promote their fight.
However, Triller did not take them up on the offer, and they are still waiting for the fight to be rescheduled.
Ken Casey, McBride’s longtime friend, and representative in the negotiations is not part of the arbitration but told World Boxing News on Thursday that their side was very upset over Triller not rescheduling the fight.
“First it was June, then August, then late August, and from I hear (Triller boss Ryan) Kavanaugh doesn’t want to do the fight now, supposedly over an excuse that Kevin isn’t fit to fight,” Casey said. “McBride has had four neurological exams and passed all of them with flying colors. He had exams in Boston, Florida and even saw the Florida commission’s doctors.
“I just suspect they don’t have the money, but they’re messing with the good names and reputations of people like McBride and Holyfield. They’re like, ‘We’ll dangle these names and fights out there for the investors in our company (to get excited about) and then screw ‘em, screw those fighters.’ You tell Kevin he’s going to make $500,000 for the fight — that’s life-changing money for the guy who’s a laborer, who has kids in private school he’s trying to pay for — and then you try to rip it away from him? They flew him down for the press conference and then just nothing. To me, this is just my opinion. They’re looking to play on Evander’s name, get some publicity. But I don’t know if they ever had intentions of really making the fight.”
A Triller representative did not respond to World Boxing News’ request for comment on the situation.
The 58-year-old Holyfield (44-10-2, 29 KOs), the only four-time heavyweight titleholder in boxing history and two-time winner over Tyson in huge world title fight pay-per-views, has not fought since stopping Brian Nielsen in the 10th round in his home country of Denmark in May 2011. He had hoped to meet Tyson again in an exhibition, but when their negotiations fell apart, he was matched with McBride. Tyson fought Roy Jones Jr. in the first Triller Fight Club boxing event last fall but is also embroiled in arbitration with the company because of a dispute over the revenue from the event.
McBride (35-10-1, 29 KOs), an Ireland native based in Brockton, Massachusetts, was a career journeyman except for one big night in Washington, D.C., in 2005, when he scored an upset sixth-round knockout of Tyson and sent him into retirement. McBride, who turned 48 in May, went 2-6 thereafter and retired in 2011.
“I’ve been longtime friends with Kevin. He’s a standup guy, and he did everything Triller asked of him. He jumped through hoops with all the medicals,” said Casey, who said he paid for the medical exams.
“He’s been training for months, lost 50 pounds, and his neuro exams are fine. So, he’s fit to fight. He’s in great shape, and Triller is trying to use Kevin not being an adequate opponent as an excuse not to do the fight. If that’s the case, they shouldn’t have signed the fight in the first place or flown him in for a press conference. But they don’t care.”