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Evander Holyfield passes medicals, boxing match with Vitor Belfort can be professional or exhibition

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At age 58, Evander Holyfield passed the Florida State Boxing Commission’s licensing requirements for boxers over the age of 40 and will meet Vitor Belfort in a sanctioned boxing match on Saturday night.

FSBC spokesperson Patrick Fargason on Thursday told MMA Fighting that Holyfield submitted an eye exam, blood tests, an EKG and an MRI that were reviewed and approved by the commission’s medical committee. The former heavyweight boxing champ was not required to submit to any additional medical tests at the direction of the commission, Fargason said. Holyfield’s last requirement in connection with his license will be passing a pre-fight physical.

Holyfield on Wednesday worked out for the media and moved vastly slower than during his professional boxing career, which ended in 2011 before a short-notice offer to replace an ill Oscar De La Hoya in a fight against ex-UFC champ Belfort. In an interview with MMA Fighting, Holyfield’s speech was noticeably impaired as he spoke about his return to the ring.

Fargason did not comment directly on the video and said the FSBC’s statement is the commission “stands prepared to regulate the bout as a sanctioned fight.” In a prepared statement subsequently sent to MMA Fighting, the commission indicated Holyfield and Belfort can also choose to change the fight from a professional match to an exhibition.

“The Florida Athletic Commission stands prepared to regulate the Evander Holyfield-Vitor Belfort bout as a sanctioned fight that would appear on both fighter’s official boxing record,” the statement read. “Ultimately in this case, the decision on whether Saturday’s fight is a sanctioned match or an exhibition match is a matter for the participants.

“Regardless, the Commission will be supervising the fight. Medical examinations for fighting participants are outlined in Rule 61K1-3 of the Florida Administrative Code. All fighters over the age of 40 are subject to an eye exam, blood work, an MRI, and EKG.”

In 2004, Holyfield was barred from receiving a fight license in New York due to “poor performance and diminished skills” after a lopsided loss at Madison Square Garden. But he was later removed from an indefinite suspension, allowing him to seek a license in other states. After placing him on suspension, New York State Athletic Commission doctor Barry Jordan indicated the fighter’s MRI, EKC, and neurological examinations didn’t present any immediate reg flags, but noted the fighter “falls into the high-risk fighter category” as a result of “poor performance, long career and extensive trauma.”

Belfort, a former UFC light heavyweight champion, hasn’t competed since a 2018 loss in the UFC. Saturday’s bout is his second professional boxing match since a 2006 appearance. The fight with Holyfield will be in the heavyweight division and be contested over eight two-minute rounds with the fighters wearing 12-ounce gloves with the Unified Rules of Boxing in effect assuming the bout remains sanctioned as a professional bout.