Triller Fight Club changing its tune after disgusting Holyfield-Belfort card
The last thing that should ever be questioned about a professional sports event with betting on it is whether or not it is a job.
But that's exactly where the Triller Fight Club was when it hosted a pay-per-view on Saturday in Hollywood, Florida, in which the youngest boxer, Joe Fournier, was 38 years old.
Fournier "fought" - and I put the quotation marks around the word fought on purpose - former heavyweight champion David Haye on the map. Haye is 40 years old and has not fought since May 5, 2018. The two are friends, which was certainly not recognized before the fight, and Haye tiptoed to a unanimous win that seemed like it could end at any moment, according to a number of respected boxing insiders.
In the co-main event, it was a battle of the 46-year-old ex-UFC legends when the great Anderson Silva defeated the former mayor of Huntington Beach, California, the pro tempore mayor Tito Ortiz in just over a minute.
And in the main event, the almost 59-year-old Evander Holyfield was eliminated in just over a minute by 44-year-old ex-UFC champion Vitor Belfort.
It was disgusting and unethical and just about everything that is wrong with professional boxing. It turned out that all three fights were exhibition games that you would not have come across if Triller had been marketing the card. It called it "the most anticipated fight of the decade," despite being expected by exactly zero people and compiled in 10 days when Oscar De La Hoya tested positive for COVID-19 and was forced to withdraw.
Sports books took bets on the fights. BetMGM, which has a partnership with Yahoo Sports, had odds on the bouts, none of which are on record. And for the Haye-Fournier fight at least, one has to wonder if that fight was even on the rise after seeing what happened and knowing the relationship between the two.
Fournier is 9-0 with nine knockouts as a professional, which makes you think he's a competent, if not a good, professional boxer. It is clearly not, but since the fight with Haye was an exhibition it is not on his files.
Starting with his professional debut in 2015, these are the records of Fournier's opponents: 2-24, 0-0, 0-3, 14-8, 11-41-1, 0-5, 1-11, 0-13, 1 -11 and 0-0. But the genius running the Florida Athletic Commission enabled him to fight a former world champion who could have seriously injured Fournier if he had really tried.
Holyfield passed all the required medical tests and was even examined by specialists. That was no surprise, however, as Holyfield emerged from the womb in great shape.
It should be noted, however, that Holyfield was a month before his 59th birthday when he was allowed to fight.
He hadn't fought since facing Brian Nielsen more than 10 years earlier. Passing medical tests is therefore a basic requirement.
Evander Holyfield looks on after losing an exhibition game to Vitor Belfort (not pictured) at Hard Rock Live in Hollywood, Florida on September 11, 2021. (Photo by Chandan Khanna via Getty Images)
Fortunately, that could change. Initially, the Florida debacle caught the attention of several regulators, including Mike Mazzulli, president of the Association of Boxing Commissions.
Mazzulli understands the sport and, like Andy Foster of California, would not have recognized any of these three fights as legitimate fights. Foster wanted to sanction Silva-Ortiz as an exhibition, but not allow Holyfield-Belfort, so the fight was moved from the Staples Center in Los Angeles to the Hard Rock Seminole in Hollywood, Florida.
"We're going to be putting out some new regulations for approving fighters aged 40 and over," said Mazzulli, who said Foster and longtime ring doctor Michael Schwartz are chairing the committee to work out the new standards.
The standards have to be at the point where a 59-year-old never gets in the ring again, no matter how good the medics look.
Triller: "We are only moving away from exhibition stuff"
Thorsten Meier is Triller's new Chief Operating Officer and highly respected in boxing circles. He started his boxing career with the Klitschko brothers in Germany, then worked for Tom Loeffler on Gennadiy Golovkin fights and was most recently with the Premier Boxing Champions.
He's a logistics expert and a guy who gets things right.
He defended the trill card on Saturday but said it was moving away from shows with older fighters and entertainers and towards real boxing matches.
He said Triller had withdrawn his consent to a planned Holyfield-Kevin McBride bout because of concerns about McBride's status.
"There is a bigger conversation you could have about ethical and non-ethical and so on, but I would never put anyone in the ring if there were any concerns about them mentally, medically, or physically," Meier told Yahoo Sports. “We are the ones who have had concerns about McBride. We did everything in our power to make sure there wasn't a McBride fight because we feared something might happen in the ring. "
Holyfield was furious about the interruption, said he wanted to keep fighting and was interested in a fight with Mike Tyson.
But if you listen to Meier when this fight happens, then maybe not with a trill.
"Ultimately, we want to have professional fights in the Triller Fight Club," said Meier. “We are only moving away from the exhibition material. Yeah, Tyson was great and whatever [in a November fight with Roy Jones] and got the biggest pay per view, be it because of the pandemic or whatever. But the focus is on full blown professional fights, and the focus is definitely on full blown good professional fights. There will always be more. "
Vitor Belfort celebrates after defeating Evander Holyfield at Hard Rock Live in Hollywood, Florida on September 11, 2021. (Photo by Chandan Khanna / AFP via Getty Images)
He pointed out that Triller will promote the undisputed lightweight title fight on October 4th in New York between Teofimo Lopez and George Kambosos. There will be an undisputed super middleweight match between Franchon Crews-Dezurn and Elin Cederroos.
It plans a night of heavyweight bouts in November and will get involved in some upcoming wallet deals, Meier said.
The WBC is planning wallet offers for a middleweight title eliminator between Jaime Munguia and Sergiy Derevyanchenko and for a light heavyweight title fight between Artur Beterbiev and Marcus Browne.
This is the way to go for Trill, but seeing is believing and Triller's track record has been spotty so far. This is the company that promoted Tyson versus Jones, social media creator Jake Paul versus ex-NBA star Nate Robinson, Fournier versus reggae singer Reykon, Fournier versus Haye, Holyfield versus Belfort, and Silva versus Ortiz.
With all due respect to Meier, who was not with Triller most of the time, her track record is not good.
Fights with Jake Paul against MMA fighters are not particularly interesting, but the security issue is very different. There was never any concern about whether a commission should sanction Paul against Ben Askren or Paul against Tyron Woodley. The question arose as to what it would prove, since MMA and boxing are related but materially different sports. However, that is a different topic.
Meier has a tough job, because he not only has to get Triller away from those circus fights with long-retired fighters, but also to ensure that the company's reputation is cleaned up. It couldn't be honest what it asked on Saturday. Turns out it was primarily a map of exhibitions, but they weren't marketed that way and if you bet on them you won't be happy to find out later.
A senior tour is only appropriate in golf. Boxing is far too dangerous, even for the young and healthy, to let those enter the ring to fight within six years of Medicare.
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