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How old is Evander Holyfield? Why boxing legend says he’ll be ‘safe’ against Vitor Belfort

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Evander Holyfield is returning to the ring Saturday night for an eight-round boxing match against former UFC light heavyweight champion Vitor Belfort. The fight will take place at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Fla. 

Holyfield, who last fought in May 2011 against Brian Nielsen, appears to be the second-oldest boxer to ever fight professionally, should Saturday’s bout count against his professional record. Holyfield was 44-10-2 (29 KOs) from 1984 to 2011, and he became the only boxer in history to win the undisputed title in two weight classes (cruiserweight and heavyweight). He is also the only four-time world heavyweight champion. 

Holyfield announced his intention to return to the ring on May 6, 2020, for the cause #Unite4OurFight, which he said provides social and emotional development resources for children. He was scheduled to fight Kevin McBride this summer on the undercard of unified lightweight champion’s Teofimo Lopez’s title defense vs. George Kambosos, but that bout was delayed to October after Lopez tested positive for COVID-19. 

MORE: Who will Tyson Fury fight after Deontay Wilder? 

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When former six-division champion Oscar De La Hoya tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month, Holyfield took his place to fight Belfort. Considering Holyfield’s age and the state of his career, should he have returned for another fight? 

Here’s what Saturday’s bout will mean for him: 

How old is Evander Holyfield? 

At 58 years, 327 days, Holyfield is believed to be the second-oldest fighter to compete professionally, should Saturday’s bout count on his record. 

The oldest boxer to participate in a professional fight is Steve Ward, who last competed in December 2015 at age 59. 

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According to ESPN, Holyfield is returning to make “multiple millions” for this bout, and he also has his eyes on a third fight with Mike Tyson, who made a comeback fight in November 2020 against Roy Jones Jr.

Asked to respond to people who say he is too old to fight, Holyfield said he would agree. 

“At least I’m fighting somebody that I know I can protect myself [against],” Holyfield said. “The whole thing’s about protection. You don’t become a good fighter until you know how not to get hit. . . . I know all the things that’s necessary to be safe.”

“It’s kind of hard to turn down a big sum of something when you know you can do it,” he added. “Plus, you’ve got to understand, they saying fight somebody who boxing ain’t his thing.”

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Belfort, who retired from the UFC after a knockout loss to Lyoto Machida in May 2018, has made just one professional boxing appearance. It was against Josemario Neves in April 2006. He won by TKO.

Evander Holyfield career record 

It is uncertain whether Saturday’s fight will count against Holyfield’s professional record.  

A Florida Athletic Commission spokesman told ESPN the commission “stands prepared to regulate the Evander Holyfield-Vitor Belfort bout as a sanctioned fight that would appear on both fighters’ official boxing record,” though the decision of whether it will count rests with the fighters.  

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In that same story, ESPN reported Holyfield has “expressed apprehension about the fight counting toward his professional record.”

“If Holyfield doesn’t want this to go on his BoxRec

    due to his age, we’ll allow him to make the decision and still follow all the other rules,” Triller co-founder Ryan Kavanaugh told ESPN. “As of now, the fighters are comfortable with how it stands and we’re going to revisit this over the next couple of days to decide.” 

    Regardless of how the fight is counted, Holyfield said he is taking the bout very seriously. 

    “It’s a fight, the rules are the same,” Holyfield said when asked if it would be an exhibition. “All I know is it’s a fight and they got the rules. If I can get him in one second, I’ll get him in one second. . . . . I do what I have to do.” 

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    Evander Holyfield career summary 

    Evander Holyfield is one of the greatest heavyweight boxers of all time. He is the only fighter in the division to be a world champion on four separate occasions. He held the WBA, WBC and IBF titles from October 1990 to November 1992; the WBA and IBF titles from November 1993 to April 1994; the WBA title from November 1996 to March 1999; the IBF title from November 1997 to March 2019; and the WBA title again from August 2000 to March 2001. 

    Holyfield has defeated a number of all-time fighters during his career, including George Foreman (1991), Larry Holmes (1992), Riddick Bowe (1993) and Mike Tyson (1996 and 1997). He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2017. He was praised for his chin, footwork and combinations. 

    “He was a very smart guy because he realized when he was a heavyweight, he was a very small heavyweight, but he was the fastest heavyweight; he had the best hand speed, he had the best foot speed,” said former trainer Ronnie Shields. “There was nobody in the heavyweight division who could match him in speed and he knew this; that’s is why he was able to become champion of the world and he got away with it for so long.”

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