Evander Holyfield’s return at 58 is boxing’s most depressing show but it’s a very crowded field

No doubt they will curse this fling with fate. But hang in there, battle-weary boxing fans. Better days do lie over the horizon.

Anthony Joshua v Oleksandr Usyk (September 25) is a fascinating match-up, and the trilogy fight between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder (October 9) promises more fun and fireworks.

Yes, the one we all want remains out of reach, but let’s be frank — now’s the time to gobble up any crumbs of optimism after this week that was.


Evander Holyfield is returning to the ring at the age of 58 to fight Vitor Belfort on Saturday


Only eight days have passed since 18-year-old Jeanette Zacarias Zapata died following a stoppage defeat. And yet already tragedy is being crowded out by farce.

In Arizona on Friday night, Oscar Valdez will put up his world super-featherweight title against Robson Conceicao, despite testing positive for a banned substance last month.

It is testament to another circus rolling into Florida that Valdez v Conceicao remains only a contender for most depressing show of the week.

Boxing fans want to see Anthony Joshua v Tyson Fury despite their own respective fights

Oscar Valdez (left) is in action on Friday despite testing positive for a banned substance last month

Here’s a potted history of that madness: Oscar De La Hoya, boxing’s rusted Golden Boy, was due to return to the ring aged 48 to face MMA veteran Vitor Belfort, 44. All YouTubers were otherwise occupied.

Then Oscar contracted Covid barely a week before the fight. The veteran delivered the bad news from his hospital bed but, as the well wishes poured in, the wheels of nonsense continued to turn.

The natural replacement was, of course, Evander Holyfield. Who else? At 58, the former heavyweight champion is jostling for room on the comeback trail, too.

Oscar De La Hoya was set to fight Belfort but contracted Covid a week before the fight

Quickly, though, problems surfaced. California’s State Athletic Commission refused to sanction the new headline attraction. With good reason, of course.

For the organisers, social video platform Triller, that was a mere inconvenience.

Florida was happy to play ball. So the entire card was moved. No, really.

It gets more wild. The undercard sees David Haye, a relative spring chicken at 40, return to the ring to fight an old friend, nightclub-owner-turned-boxer Joe Fournier.

‘I see it as very similar to going to watch The Expendables with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone and all of those legends,’ Haye told the BBC. Who knows if the commentators will agree. Who’s behind the mic? Oh, Donald Trump and son Donald Jnr, of course.

Donald Trump and his son will help provide commentary for the fight involving Holyfield