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Triller defends ‘very fair’ Belfort matchup, expects Holyfield return vs ‘better-suited’ opponents

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Triller’s Ryan Kavanaugh expects more fights for 58-year-old Evander Holyfield, and he already has an opponent in mind.

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Former rivals Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield at a gala in 2019.
Former rivals Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield at a gala in 2019.
Photo by Michael Tullberg/Getty Images

If you think you’ve seen the last of 58-year-old Evander Holyfield inside the boxing ring against Vitor Belfort on 9/11, you may be in for a surprise. Triller’s Ryan Kavanaugh, the man behind the said matchup, expects “The Real Deal” to take on more fights.

As Kavanaugh told Ariel Helwani on Monday’s MMA Hour episode, the former undisputed cruiserweight and heavyweight champion was greatly unhappy with the referee stoppage against Belfort.

From there, they plan to find “better-suited” opponents for Holyfield, one of them being former rival Mike Tyson.

“If you talk to Holyfield, what the world perceived happened didn’t happen. Vitor apparently stepped on his foot — which I haven’t seen the footage yet — which made him trip, and that’s why it looked like he fell. He swung really hard, which we all know he did. And that was the knockout swing.

“Had he connected with Vitor, Vitor would probably still be in the hospital today. And missed, which put him into the ropes because he swung so hard. And Vitor came back aggressively,” Kavanaugh explained.

“But Holyfield is notoriously a slow starter. As he said, his strategy is ‘Let me get hit, let me feel how he punches, and then I’ll come out with my returns.’

“The stoppage, in his opinion, was the problem, because he’s like ‘I would’ve come back, and I knew what I was doing.’

“I think Holyfield will end up fighting someone hopefully people see is better-suited (for him), whether it’s Tyson or someone like that.”

Speaking of “better-suited” opponents, Holyfield was originally slated to fight 48-year-old Kevin McBride, the man who sent Tyson into retirement in 2005. When that fell through, Kavanaugh ended up pairing Holyfield with Belfort, which he felt was a justified matchup to make.

“We actually went to the Commission and said we’re concerned about (Holyfield vs. McBride). And I think we were told we were the only promoters to ever, in the history of promotion, to try and talk the Commission out of a fight,” Kavanaugh revealed.

“And the Holyfield camp — and we love them, we love working with them — but they were adamant that this fight had to go on. So much so that they brought it to arbitration to say, ‘You have to let this go.’ And it was a real, under all-pro rules fight. This was not an exhibition dance fight.

“It was gonna be a fight of us saying we don’t want someone to get hurt. So when we turned around to put this card on, the way we looked at it was Vitor, yes, he was younger.

“As we all know, he’s (four) years younger than McBride. So almost the same age, but not a pro-boxer. He’s boxed once. He was (doing) MMA. And we all know that MMA has a disadvantage, let’s just say, when it comes to pro-boxing.

“So we actually thought it was going to be a very fair card. There was an age disadvantage, but there was an MMA disadvantage.”

Triller has yet to reveal its future plans for Holyfield. As for Belfort, the promotion is planning to rebook the supposed Oscar De La Hoya bout for Thanksgiving weekend and bill it as a “revenge” fight for Holyfield.