Oscar De La Hoya Contracts COVID-19, Vitor Belfort to Box Evander Holyfield

By Jay Pettry Sep 3, 2021

Editor's note: The article has been updated at 6 p.m. ET on Sept. 3 to reflect a new location and venue for the match.

If you had Vitor Belfort vs. Evander Holyfield on your 2021 betting slip, cash that ticket now.

Ex-Ultimate Fighting Championship champ Belfort (26-14, 1 NC; 1-0 Box) was slated to take on Oscar De La Hoya (39-6, 30 KOs Box) on Sept. 11. The two were planning to square off inside the Staples Center in Los Angeles in an eight-round, 185-pound professional affair. Per TMZ on Friday, that fight is off as De La Hoya tested positive for COVID-19. In his stead will be long-retired heavyweight champ Evander Holyfield (44-10-2, 1 NC, 29 KOs Box). The dramatic change has since been confirmed by ESPN.

Holyfield, age 58, will be stepping into the ring as a professional for the first time in over 10 years. “The Real Deal” was linked to an exhibition pairing with Kevin McBride in April, but the matchup fell through several times before getting scrubbed entirely. The legend began his career at 28-0 with 22 knockouts, and captured the WBA, WBC and IBF heavyweight straps on his way up. Although he was derailed by Riddick Bowe in 1992, he avenged the defeat a year later and competed at the highest level for several more years. Perhaps most famous in his run are his encounters with Mike Tyson, where he knocked out “Iron Mike” and then had part of his ear bitten off in the rematch.

Belfort vs. De La Hoya was booked at 185 pounds, and the weight category will be shifted to heavyweight to accommodate the formerly retired Holyfield. The California State Athletic Commission has not cleared Holyfield to compete, and Triller will be relocating the Sept. 11 fight card to Florida, in a move reminiscent of UFC 232 shifting from Las Vegas to Los Angeles in 2018. Per ESPN, the event will not longer be inside the Staples Center in Los Angeles, and instead will take place at the Hard Rock Live in Hollywood, Fla. Every fight billed at this show will be shifted to this new location.

Shortly after the news broke, De La Hoya posted a video from the hospital confirming that he came down with COVID-19 despite being vaccinated.

"I mean, what are the chances of me getting COVID," a breathless De La Hoya remarked. "I've been taking care of myself, and...this really really kicked my ass."
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