Chris Eubank Jr insists hero Evander Holyfield ‘shouldn’t have been in the ring’ for Vitor Belfort defeat
Chris Eubank Jr admits it was difficult to watch his hero Evander Holyfield get destroyed by Vitor Belfort on Saturday night.
In a controversial bout, legendary champion Holyfield returned to the ring aged 58, taking on MMA star Belfort in a boxing match organised by Triller.
Holyfield replaced Oscar De La Hoya on two weeks’ notice – and fears for the heavyweight legend’s safety were confirmed when Belfort, 44, stopped him inside the first round.
The American was floored by the active Brazilian fighter and then took a barrage of punches before the referee correctly called a halt.
Holyfield became the latest legend to return in recent months, following in the footsteps of fellow icons Roy Jones Jr and Mike Tyson, who fought each other last year, while David Haye was on the same card last weekend.
Organisers Triller have also been largely responsible for the YouTube boxing scene which has given rise to the likes of internet sensations Jake Paul and KSI as professional fighters.
While Eubank Jr has no problem with this new form of entertainment – the British middleweight star insists pitting former boxers against current combat specialists represents a step too far.
“It was a shame,” Eubank Jr told talkSPORT. “You’ve got a legend, an icon in the sport, he shouldn’t have been in the ring.
“It’s one thing having Roy Jones Jr and Mike Tyson in the ring fighting each other, but you can’t have a guy of that age fighting an athlete like Vitor Belfort – who is an active MMA fighter and a good one at that.
“If he goes in and does it with Roy Jones Jr or Mike Tyson, then it’s okay. But not with active fighters. That was a bad move and I hope he doesn’t do anything like that again, because he’s a legend and a hero of mine and it wasn’t great to see.”
“There is a new direction that boxing is taking,” Eubank Jr added. “Not that the old school isn’t there, because it is and it always will be.
“These YouTubers are getting in the ring and fighting, KSI recently signed with my promoters. Who knows, maybe we’ll be on the same bill one day.
“It’s entertainment, they’re bringing in huge numbers which you just can’t deny.
“The following they have, these guys are getting people to tune in. They’re getting eyes on boxing that weren’t on boxing before. In that way, it’s not a bad thing and I respect it.
“And they are fighting. You’ve got a lot of armchair critics saying it’s not good for the sport and it’s disgusting. But they’re getting in the ring, punching and having punches thrown at them in front of millions of people.
“That takes balls, heart and courage that 99 per cent of the population don’t have, including the people saying they shouldn’t do it.”