They may have looked like pro bouts, they may have been advertised like pro bouts, but that doesn’t mean you actually saw professional boxing on Saturday night’s Triller Fight Club pay-per-view.
Multiple outlets (including Bloody Elbow) have learned that Vitor Belfort’s first-round TKO of Evander Holyfield and Anderson Silva’s first-round KO of Tito Ortiz were both exhibitions, and will not be counted towards anyone’s professional records. That means that Ortiz still hasn’t made his professional boxing debut and Holyfield didn’t have his first pro boxing match since 2011. They still both were stopped in a round and it’s not like you can’t have exhibitions end in a knockout.
Veteran boxing journalist Dan Rafael didn’t mince words in his post-event column.
“Holyfield-Belfort was marketed as a real fight even though Triller knew damn well that the deal it had (including with the venue) said it was an exhibition,” Rafael said. “That’s called lying. Or fraud. Or deception. Pick a term.”
As if that wasn’t enough, the opening pay-per-view card matchup between David Haye and Joe Fournier was also an exhibition. Only Jono Carroll’s decision win over Andy Vences actually counted as a professional bout and it made sense since it was a WBA title eliminator and, uh, they fought normal three-minute rounds. In fact, if you look at the BoxRec database they do not have any of the exhibitions listed for this event.
We probably should’ve been clued in by the fact that it is not normal for men’s boxing to have two-minute rounds at all. Eight-rounders are common but it’s only women’s boxing that is (stupidly) still using two minutes for professional fights. Last year’s Mike Tyson vs. Roy Jones Jr fight, which was billed as an exhibition, was also under the 8x2 minute format but somehow we were supposed to believe these fights weren’t exhibitions.
And yet, it was reported that the Florida State Boxing Commission did sanction Holyfield vs. Belfort as a professional match. That they were reportedly exhibitions this whole time does lean towards deceptive. It certainly doesn’t make the decision to book Holyfield in any fighting capacity any better.
Bloody Elbow did reach out to Triller’s PR for comment but has not received a response at the time of this article’s publish. Maybe that’s because the company handling Triller’s PR just quit.