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Holyfield vs McBride prediction: Why it’ll flop at the box office

Lee Cleveland Updated
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Fight legend Evander Holyfield will face Kevin McBride in an eight-round exhibition match on June 5 in the chief support bout before unified lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez Jr. faces George Kambosos Jr.

The card will be featured on Triller PPV and the company is hoping Evander’s name will generate mainstream interest and sell a lot of purchases; after all, Mike Tyson’s exhibition match against Roy Jones Jr. on Nov. 28 sold more than 1.6 million pay-per-view buys — priced at $49.49 apiece.

Holyfield doesn’t boast the public juice Tyson enjoys and Triller is probably aware of that so they’re not expecting the same numbers. However, it seems they’re content with Holyfield versus “anyone” so they’re probably banking on Evander’s reputation to generate some serious mulla.

Perhaps they are hoping the Real Deal pulls at least 500-750 PPV buys alone, modestly less than half of the purchases Tyson vs Jones generated? That would be a real win, wouldn’t it?

Holyfield vs McBride (exhibition)
June 5, 2021
Triller PPV

As one of Holyfield’s biggest admirers through the years, it pains me to say I have concerns about the success of Holyfield vs McBride.


Evander is an all-time great, a mainstream celebrity and more ring accomplished than Mike Tyson. Yes, Holyfield not only defeated Mike twice, he boasts the superior resume. However, Holyfield’s advantage over Mike stops there. He’s not nearly the public spectacle Iron Mike is… not even close.

In terms of their popularity, things probably haven’t changed a lot since Evander and Mike were in their prime and major cash cows.

1 WBA Heavyweight Title Fight Evander Holyfield v Mike Tyson
However, there was a big difference between them which probably remains to this day - Tyson’s bouts were always major events while Holyfield generated tremendous buzz only when facing a big-name opponent.

Everyone knew Mike was fighting no matter who he faced. And they paid for it. But Holyfield, despite crushing it at the box office in his legendary battles with the likes of George Foreman, Buster Douglas, Riddick Bowe, Larry Holmes and Tyson, of course, flopped against lesser names.

Question: Did Evander’s fights with any of these fellas resonate with the mainstream?

  • Alex Stewart (rematch, 1993)
  • Ray Mercer (1995)
  • Bobby Czyz (1996)
  • Vaughn Bean (1998)
  • John Ruiz (2000, 2001, 2001)
  • Hasim Rahman (2002)

    (If you saw all those fights and can recite what happened in each, you’re a true hardcore junkie like me)

All the above fights occurred after Evander became a heavyweight champion and prior to his demise. Hence, he was a celebrity athlete fighting at the elite level so where was the buzz and the zillions of dollars that accompany it?

Even his two title fights with Michael Moorer (in 1994 and 1997) weren’t mega events but because they were PPV affairs and generated decent interest, they weren’t included in the above list.

Simply put, Holyfield versus a former heavyweight journeyman in an “exhibition” won’t move the needle a lot, if at all.

holy vs ngannou

However, a 58-year Holyfield versus UFC Heavyweight Champion Francis Ngannou or popular WWE star Brock Lesnar in a “real”4 round boxing match would break the bank.

Even exhibitions with those opponents would generate a lot of revenue.

Who wants to see Kevin McBride? Holyfield vs Mitt Romney was more interesting. 

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Let's face it; how many times do we get to see a U.S. senator step in the ring and fight? That was quite a... umm.... spectacle.

Given Tyson seemingly wanted an unrealistic purse to step in the ring with Evander again, opponent options were limited but Triller could have done better.

A real Holyfield vs Ngannou boxing match, for instance, would be very intriguing because Evander is still in such great shape. More importantly, they are two fighters people care about who are highly relevant and each would have distinct advantages and disadvantages that would pique the public’s curiosity.

Fans would wonder if the legend, at his advanced age, could defeat an elite MMA champion in his prime but with no professional-level boxing experience.

Shannon Briggs, anyone? 

Big Daddy Bowe?

Holyfield vs the much smaller Manny Pacquaio in an "exhibition" would be fairly interesting.

That’s how Triller should be thinking.

Even Lesnar or Braun Strowman would be an improvement. And where is Junior dos Santos these days?

A glorified sparring session featuring Holyfield and McBride won’t excite handcore junkies let alone casual fans.

What are your Holyfield vs McBride predictions and thoughts?


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