Unsanctioned in California, Triller try to validate Holyfield heavyweight fight

Phil Jay
Evander Holyfield heavyweight

Triller boss Ryan Kavanaugh hit a roadblock when attempting to get former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield sanctioned to fight at 58.

Taking his case to the California State Athletic Commission. Kavanaugh was refused the opportunity to have Holyfield replace Oscar De La Hoya.

Falling victim of Covid-19, De La Hoya had to pull out of the fight with a week to go.

Holyfield, who was on the cusp of launching arbitration against Triller for a deal that had failed to materialize, was a win-win for Kavanaugh as a substitute.

Drafting in the nearly 59-year-old “Real Deal” meant all those problems would go away and the event on September 11 opposite Vitor Belfort could go ahead.

The only problem was the CSAC’s failure to grant Holyfield a license to box.

Unfazed by a small thing like the Commission not believing Holyfield was in any position to fight at his age, Kavanaugh moved to fight in order to make sure the show went on.

Florida, notorious for sanctioning any fight thrown at it, duly obliged. Now, approaching his 60’s, Evander Holyfield will face a 44-year-old Belfort who looks in beast-mode shape.

Announcing the bout this week, Triller seemingly couldn’t be prouder of the abomination.

“Former Cruiserweight and Heavyweight Undisputed World Champion, Evander Holyfield will battle Former UFC Heavyweight World Champion Vitor Belfort in an eight-round clash,” they stated.

The next line was the best one. It completely disregarded Lennox Lewis, who basically beat Holyfield twice. Plus Larry Holmes, Mike Tyson and all other living top division legends.

“Holyfield, considered to be the best Pound-for-Pound Heavyweight Champion alive today, squares off against Former Heavyweight UFC Champion Belfort,” they added in a big reach. “Belfort still holds the record for most knockouts in UFC history.”

The controversial Kavanaugh, already behind some questionable decisions since entering boxing, gave his views on the event.

“Triller breaks the mold plain and simple,” he said.

Yes, the definitely do. Nobody else is putting on events with 58-year old champions twenty years past their best.

He added: “This event brings together the worlds of boxing, MMA, music, hip hop and four quadrants.

“Boys, girls, ladies and gentlemen; this is not your father’s Oldsmobile.”


The crowning icing on the cake was this one: “Evander Holyfield is in better shape today than when he last fought and this heavyweight bout is sure to be something for the history books.”

Granted Holyfield looks well and is always in shape, but his brain would probably beg to differ on that one. Taking punches at his age is considerably more dangerous now than it ever was before.

Nigel Lythgoe, the British producer of Holyfield vs. Belfort, and a man that seemingly knows very, very little about boxing, is being labeled a “visionary” for putting this fight together.

I’m sure plenty would disgaree with that statement. Among the real boxing fans, it’s hard to find anyone who likes this fight or even wants to see it happen.

Nonetheless, Lythgoe said: “Sept. 11 will be an extraordinary, once-in-a-lifetime event of world class professional boxing and outstanding music.”

When will this madness end?

Evander Holyfield is a legend of a sport and he was an amazing fighter. But that ship sailed years ago. Let’s hope this is the last time we see him in any ring.

One that is for sure, this is not the “Most Anticipated Fight Card of the Decade” – not by a long stretch.

The views expressed in this article are opinions of Phil Jay.

Phil Jay is the Editor of WBN. An Auxiliary member of the Boxing Writers Association of America since 2018. And a member of the Sports Journalists’ Association. Follow on Twitter @PhilJWBN.

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