Featured in this article:
  • Holyfield returns to ring after decade absence
  • Belfort transitions from MMA for Florida fight
  • De La Hoya hospitalized with COVID-19

5 Minute Read

Evander Holyfield takes on Vitor Belfort this Saturday in Florida

Evander Holyfield returns to the boxing ring for the first time in a decade to face fellow veteran Vitor Belfort as a replacement for Oscar De La Hoya, who was hospitalized with COVID-19 in the lead-up to the fight.

Holyfield is famed for his rivalries with Mike Tyson and Riddick Bowe, and at the age of 58 is about to step back between the ropes to face a fighter 14 years his junior.

Granted, Belfort is no youngster at 44, but he still has this advantage over his opponent heading into this fight – although the boxing betting odds are painting a different picture.

This could be something of a freak show if Holyfield struggles with the momentum of the fight in the early rounds. As boxing betting fans, we’re ready for an intriguing fight, but at the respective ages of 58 and 44 we’re into the territory of punches doing serious damage.

Remarkably, the odds on who will win between Holyfield and Belfort have already swung wildly since bookmakers opened their markets in the wake of De La Hoya’s withdrawal. So let’s take a look at who could win Saturday’s fight in Florida…

Evander Holyfield vs Vitor Belfort stats

Career record

Evander Holyfield

Vitor Belfort

Nationality

American

Brazilian

Age

58 (October 19, 1962)

44 (April 1, 1977)

Reach

77.5 inches

74 inches

Record

44-10-2

1-0-0

Last fight

Beat Brian Nielsen (TKO), May 2011

Beat Josemario Neves (KO), April 2006

Neither of these men have any sort of boxing form heading into this contest. Holyfield’s last victory in the ring came a decade ago, when he beat Denmark’s Brian Nielsen in Copenhagen at the age of 48. That’s still four years older than Belfort is now – yet the Brazilian has less experience in boxing compared to his opponent. Belfort’s last triumph wearing boxing gloves came 15 years ago in Salvador. He then went on to have a successful MMA and UFC career, and always had boxing as part of his arsenal.

Holyfield: “At least one more time”

Despite his age there’s no denying Holyfield can still attract a big crowd to an event like this. The former heavyweight champion has been seen sparring with the likes of Jake Paul in recent times, and there was even talk of a rematch with Tyson.

We’re in an era where the legends of 1990s boxing are starting to see the money on show and agreeing to veteran rematches. These sorts of bouts rarely end in a stoppage, let alone a knockout. But it’s all part of the razzmatazz that we buy into as sports betting fans.

Would Holyfield have come out of retirement had De La Hoya not contracted COVID-19? Well, in a post on Instagram back in August, the American indicated that he was preparing for a return to the ring.

“I promise my fans I will step back in the ring at least one more time before I lay my gloves to rest for good,” he said.

Whether he seeks another fight after Saturday’s encounter remains to be seen.

Belfort: “I’m the guy with the fastest hands”

Belfort has not spoken publicly since the confirmation that Holyfield would replace De La Hoya as his opponent Saturday. But the Brazilian is certainly not shy of promoting his boxing credentials despite not entering the ring for 15 years.

Having been famed for his hand speed during his MMA days, the 44-year-old is confident he has the ability to bring both disciplines together.

“The future of combat sports in the merge between these two amazing combat sports,” he recently said. “Right now, we are boxing under boxing rules, and I accept it. But in the future, I want to mix boxing with the martial arts aspect.

“But until that gets done, I’m the guy with the fastest hands and most knockouts in UFC and MMA history.”

Holyfield vs Belfort betting latest

The sudden withdrawal of De La Hoya and Holyfield’s subsequent addition to the bill means bookmakers have had to scramble to set their odds for this new contest. And we have already seen a big swing in the odds, which suggest the bookies may have got it wrong when they first priced up the fight.

Holyfield was priced at +145 to win Saturday’s rumble when he was announced as the stand-in opponent. Meanwhile, Belfort was -175, which gave him a 63% implied probability of winning.

Yet in just two days the odds have flipped. Holyfield is now -125 to win and Belfort -105. That means the elder fighter actually has a greater chance of winning this bout by 4%. That’s not much but it indicates how boxing betting fans have jumped on the hype around Holyfield and have pushed him into the favorite position.

Will Holyfield actually pull off what would be a remarkable return to the ring? We’re not so sure, but it’s almost certain that this fight will go the distance, and a KO is unlikely.

Joseph Ellison

Joseph is a dedicated journalist and horse racing fanatic who has been writing about sports and casinos for over a decade. He has worked with some of the UK's top bookmakers and provides Premier League soccer tips on a regular basis. You'll likely find him watching horse racing or rugby when he isn't writing about sport.

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