World Boxing Council President Mauricio Sulaiman is shaking his head after watching last Saturday's boxing match between Evander Holyfield and Vitor Belfort, which headlined a Triller pay-per-view event in Hollywood, Florida.
Holyfield, 58-years-old and a former undisputed heavyweight champion, was fighting for the first time in over a decade.
Belfort, 44-years-old and a former UFC champion, is one of the hardest hitters in MMA history and showed no mercy when he stepped in the ring with the aging Hall-of-Famer.
The fight didn't last long, with Belfort dropping Holyfield and stopping him inside of the first round.
The bout was highly criticized, as most felt it was way too dangerous for a 58-year-old to take punches to the head.
And, Holyfield accepted the fight on a week's notice, when Belfort's original opponent, six division champion Oscar De La Hoya, was forced to withdraw after testing positive for COVID-19.
Sulaiman felt Holyfield made a dangerous decision to move forward with such a fight.
"What happened last Saturday was reality realization; thank goodness there was no serious injury. Tito Ortiz was struck down in less than a minute, with a spectacular knockout that could ended in a fatal injury, and the great legendary champion Evander Holyfield was embarrassed, in just 90 seconds, by a retired mixed martial arts rival," Sulaiman said.
"I'm not interested in analyzing Holyfield’s performance and what happened. It is a blessing that everyone has seen the reality. You can't play boxing. Former boxers must not return to the ring to fight. The exhibitions are acceptable, as they are with important security measures, but fighting without a head gear and competitively cannot happen.
"Many legends had left the ring with painful farewell fights, when time took away the physical virtues. Joe Louis was knocked out by Marciano, Ali by Holmes, Leonard by Camacho, El Púas by the unknown Nacho Madrid, Chávez by Grover Wiley. All of them closed their chapter in the life of a boxer and moved on.
"Today is different. Holyfield had not fought in a decade and at 58 he committed a terrible mistake, risking his life and the honor of the sport that gave him everything. Oscar de la Hoya was going to fight, after 12 years out of the ring, but a signal came from heaven when he contracted COVID-19 and had to cancel it. Riddick Bowe says he wants to fight, and so the sharks in the business are pitching offers to legendary but spent fighters to use them, give them peanuts and themselves collecting millions.
"This needs order in some way. The power of money and the few scruples of a few cannot be more important than integrity and security. Holyfield can now be once again the great leader, but he must also seek the help of his teammates, colleagues, friends and family, not to go through this situation ever again!"