Former President Donald Trump provided ringside commentary for a pay-per-view boxing event Saturday night that saw former heavyweight world champion Evander Holyfield lose in a first-round technical knockout to MMA star Vitor Belfort.
Trump received a warm welcome from the crowd at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida, which erupted into cheers when his name was announced as the evening’s special guest.
He and son Donald Trump Jr. called the entire four-fight card for the Triller “gamecast,” giving live analysis and discussing his experiences in the boxing business.
In comments before the first fight, the ex-president acknowledged the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, and repeated criticisms of the Biden administration over the chaotic US evacuation from Afghanistan.
“As a country, in the United States, it’s certainly one of the most important days, and we had a very bad week because of some of the decisions that have been made that made it even more somber than it should normally be,” he said.
Earlier on Saturday, Trump visited New York City police officers and firefighters to commemorate the anniversary.
Media company Triller announced last week that the Trumps would be joining its alternative broadcast, available for interested viewers for $49.99, the same cost as the main telecast.
Trump Jr. said on the broadcast that while he and his dad’s involvement in the event came together rather quickly and takes place during a sensitive time, the opportunity seemed like “a bit of levity” on a “somber day.”
“We came in sort of last minute,” he said. “Obviously we have such a special and important day, a somber day, but to be able to have a bit of levity in that is so important and so American.”
The former president is no stranger to boxing, having hosted a number of bouts throughout the 1980s and ’90s at his casinos in Atlantic City. He’s also a member of the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame.
He seemed shocked by Holyfield’s loss, and noted that the 58-year-old champ wasn’t in top form.
“No, he’s not the same,” Trump said. “Right from the beginning he was not the same fighter. He lost a lot. It was not Evander Holyfield.”
He commended Belfort, 44, on the victory, saying, “Vitor, your stock was very high, but your stock is even higher tonight because you beat somebody who may be the greatest of all time.”
Belfort was originally slated to fight former heavyweight champion Oscar De La Hoya, 48, who was forced to drop out last Friday after he was hospitalized with COVID-19.
His replacement, Holyfield, was defeated just 1:45 into the fight, clearly outmatched by Belfort.
Trump thanked the fans after the swift fight, telling them, “This is like a rally. We love you, we love this country.”
Triller offered to host a $30 million winner-take-all fight on Thanksgiving weekend between Belfort and Jake Paul, if Paul accepts.