Vitor Belfort is old. Evander Holyfield is much older. After a bout between Belfort and Oscar De La Hoya fell through because the latter came down with Covid-19 the promoter of the foiled bout suggested Evander Holyfield as a replacement. California State Athletic Commission Executive Director Andy Foster advised me that “I was not agreeable with the match based on a variety of regulatory factors and we did not have adequate time for him to go through an extensive licensing process”. This is no surprise as Holyfield was denied a licence when he was 42 years old by the New York State Athletic Commission because of “poor performance and diminished skills”. He is now 58 years old. Advanced age. a decade of inactivity and short notice are not a good recipe for Athletic Commission approval.
This did not stop the promoter from seeing if anyone else will step up to the plate. Enter Florida.
The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation had no problem granting Holyfield a licence. The Commission announced as follows:
The Florida Athletic Commission has approved the EVANDER HOLYFIELD vs. VITOR BELFORT bout as a fully regulated professional boxing match. It will be conducted under the Unified Rules of Boxing and scored by three judges on the 10-point must system.
All boxers on this card have successfully met all requirements to be licensed by the Florida Athletic Commission.
Can they do so? Yes. The barrier for a pro licence is low. In some jurisdictions very low. Florida publish the following sparse requirements for a pro boxing licence
|Application Requirements: |
AGE: Applicant must be at least 18 years old.
MEDICAL EXAMINATION/TESTING REQUIRED TO PARTICIPATE:
Laboratory results (negative result acceptable up to 1 year):
Hepatitis B surface antigen
Hepatitis C antibody
Rapid Human Immunodeficiency Virus/AIDS (HIV)
Dialated eye examination (acceptable up to 1 year):Conducted by ophthalmologist or optometristLink to Dilated Eye Exam form: http://www.myfloridalicense.com/dbpr/pro/sbc/documents/665_dilated_eye_exam_form.pdf
Age 40 and older:Normal EKG clearing applicant to compete (acceptable up to 1 year)
Normal MRI of the brain
Pre-match physical examination: Participant will be examined by Commission physician at weigh-in
Female participants – pregnancy test will be conducted at weigh-in
FEE: Pay $25 non-refundable fee by credit card or electronic check.
APPLICATION: Complete an application by clicking the “Online Services” link below.
As noted by the Association of Boxing Commissions summary Florida does not require additional ‘neurological testing‘ and older fighters need to have a doctor sign off on their fitness but “any licensed doctor accepted“.
On the Federal front the US Professional Boxing Safety Act (commonly referred to as the Ali Act) wishes for commissions to honor each others suspensions and licence denials. But there are plenty of ways around this wish.
So can Florida give Holyfield a pro boxer’s licence? Yes. Should they? Many knowledgeable voices have shared their views. It seems the anticipation for the bout Florida just approved can best be described as little more than a collective drum beat of concern among the combat sports community.