On Saturday night, Triller Fight Club held its Legends II pay-per-view card from the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Fla. After this event, it is painfully clear that these “legends fight nights” have a short shelf life at best.
If anything is a mockery of the sport of boxing, it was this display, and we’re not even talking about the decision to have Donald Trump on commentary. Former heavyweight champ Evander Holyfield stepped in on short notice for Oscar De La Hoya — whose recent bout with COVID-19 left him hospitalized — to take on former UFC champ Vitor Belfort. I have nothing against either competitor, but this exhibition should never have happened. It’s hard to believe that the outcome would have been much different had De La Hoya been able to make the fight.
Holyfield is in phenomenal shape for a man nearing 60 years of age, but once that opening bell rang, it was transparently clear that Holyfield hadn’t fought in the ring in some time. The Real Deal’s jab looked real slow, and his reflexes seemed to follow suit. It didn’t take long for Belfort to figure his opponent out and subsequently unleash a flurry of punches until the referee called the fight in favor of Belfort with 10 seconds remaining in round 1. The most effective-looking blow thrown by Holyfield was a missed left hook that sent himself careening into the middle ropes.
There’s a reason Mike Tyson declined an offer from Holyfield and his camp for a third fight between the two former world champions. The whole Triller thing sounds great in theory, but the “legends fight” aspect may need some retooling soon.
On the same card was a bout between two former UFC champs in Anderson Silva and Tito Ortiz. This fight was even shorter than Holyfield-Belfort, with Silva defeating Ortiz by knockout just 81 seconds into the contest. Neither of the headlining fights on this Legends II card got out of the first round.
Not only were both fights short, but it looked like three of the four competitors weren’t boxers by trade. Even Holyfield, as great as he once was, looked like a washed-up, over-the-hill fighter. Holyfield is 58 years old. No one expects him to look or react like he did 20 or 30 years ago. But the fact that this fight was even sanctioned is remarkable. None of these men should be fighting on PPV anymore. It just isn’t good television for so many reasons. But I don’t blame them; it’s a good payday. Triller gets some blame, of course, but I’m not even laying it all on them.
I blame the sport of boxing for not making the fights that people want to see when they want to see them. Triller came along and saw what was missing from the boxing world, tweaked it, and now here we are. We’re seeing the most prominent names from the boxing and MMA worlds in big fights, no matter how old they are or what kind of shape they’re in. Obviously, consumers are willing to pay, so we get these fights that barely last one round.
It’s only a matter of time until people get tired of paying for these fights that barely last long enough to grab popcorn and a beer. It won’t matter how much Triller promotes them. Boxing needs to step up and start making these fights and push promoter and network politics to the side. Right now, one of the biggest fights that could happen is Errol Spence Jr. vs. Terrance Crawford. Because of politics, it probably won’t happen anytime soon. Certainly not while both fighters are in their primes. That just makes too much sense. In the heavyweight division, fans are still waiting on a Tyson Fury-Anthony Joshua fight as well.
This has gone on for a long time in boxing. Whenever fans hear boxing “purists” complaining about these celebrity fights and now the legends division, I’m sure they probably roll their eyes and turn the station. Boxing only has itself to blame. If boxing wants to take over the ring again, the ball is in their court. Let’s get these top names in the ring and restore boxing to where it once was so many years ago.