Editor’s Note: This column originally posted on USA TODAY Sports.
Former President Donald Trump began his debut as a boxing commentator on Saturday night, as one would expect.
With a verbal blow.
Trump agreed to comment during a four-fight card featuring Evander Holyfield, the former heavyweight champion who was returning to the ring at 58. And at the start of the pay-per-view live stream, the lead commentator noted that it was the 20th anniversary of 9/11 and handed it over to the former president.
Calling the anniversary of September 11 one of the most important days, Trump added, and we have had a very bad week because of very bad decisions that were made We should never have allowed what happened spent in Afghanistan with 13 great warriors and many wounded and many people killed in the last few days and it was just a shame.
Later, while awaiting the results of the three judges after the first fight, Trump noted that he had seen a lot of bad boxing decisions over the years.
It’s like an election, he said. It could be rigged.
(Editor’s note: The Justice Department found no evidence of widespread electoral fraud in the 2020 presidential election.)
However, on a night when Holyfield got arrested before the end of the first round at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida, perhaps the most surprising thing was this: Trump mostly sticks to the boxing.
After staging memorable fights in his casinos, Trump displayed an enthusiasm for the sport, a decent knowledge of boxing, and stamina. That is, he continued to mix with his son Donald Trump Jr. and guest commentators during the pay-per-view event which lasted nearly 3 hours.
What he seemed to enjoy the most was the adoring crowd, which erupted into chants of We want Trump! We want Trump! He stood up and, with a broad smile, clenched his fist.
Former President Donald Trump waves to enthusiastic fans as he prepares to comment on the Triller Fight Club event in Hollywood, Fla. (AP Photo / Rebecca Blackwell)
The story continues
But for most of the night, he did his agreed-upon guest commentary duties, offering insights and opinions. Some of the most notable came after Holyfield’s loss to TKO in the first round when the referee called off the fight.
From the start you could see it, it wasn’t the same fighter, Trump said. He lost a lot. This left jab was very slow.
Holyfield did not go quietly.
So Evanders complains a bit that it’s stopping. I think you probably should, right? Trump asked.
Commentators agreed, but noted that it would be difficult for a former champion to accept defeat.
As Holyfield left the makeshift area, Trump said: This is probably the last time you’ll see the great legend of Evander Holyfield, right? Probably the last time, as such. I hope so, I hope so.
Trump seemed to know better past fighters such as Sugar Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran, and Mike Tyson. He also spoke of more obscure fighters, like Iran Barkley and James Toney. Yet despite his memories of veterans, he knew two relative newcomers: Jake Paul and Logan Paul, the famous YouTube brothers who energized the boxing scene.
Towards the end of the night, Trump was sitting next to UFC star Jorge Masvidal, who traded beards with Jake Paul and said he would like to fight the two brothers. Trump said: So Paul brothers we have Jorge and he wants to fight you and I think it would be an amazing fight.
The first two fights were mostly boring, and at times Trump’s comments were also lackluster. But he spiced it up with opinions. Like being in favor of 15-round championship fights rather than 12 rounds.
I think it really hurts boxing, Trump said, lamenting the lost championship rounds, previously the 13th, 14th and 15th rounds before the format change.
The fights were cut short after Kim Duk-koo’s death following a championship fight against Ray Mancini in 1982. Duk-koo lost by TKO in the 14th round and died five days after the fight.
Other things you probably haven’t heard at a Trump rally: He’s a huge fan of British heavyweight boxer Tyson Fury and he thinks Larry Holmes had the best left hand jab.
Junior Dos Santos, a former UFC heavyweight champion, joined the Trumps as a guest commentator and spent a good deal of the time chatting with Trump as the cameras rolled and the fights progressed.
I am in awe of what this gentleman knows about boxing, said Dos Santos.
We’ve had a lot of fights, Trump replied, apparently referring to those he organized rather than those he fought.
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