Ex-NFL RB Bell to fight Hall in pro boxing debut
11: 00 AM ET
Marc RaimondiESPN Staff Writer
A unique football-versus-MMA matchup has been added to the Jake Paul vs. Anderson Silva undercard.
Former NFL All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell will face ex-UFC fighter Uriah Hall in a pro boxing match Oct. 29 in Glendale, Arizona.
The four-round contest has been contracted at 195 pounds and neither man can be above 200 pounds on weigh-in day, per officials. Bell and Hall, who are making their professional boxing debuts, will wear 10-ounce gloves. The card is being promoted by Paul’s Most Valuable Promotions and distributed by Showtime pay-per-view.
“I’m just as excited to watch Hall versus Bell as I am for Paul versus Silva,” Most Valuable Promotions co-founder Nakisa Bidarian said. “You have a legitimate top-10 MMA striker versus a world-class athlete who has proven he has true boxing skills and knockout power. This fight elevates our pay-per-view to a new level and these guys will undoubtedly put on an unforgettable fight for the fans in the stands and those tuning in.”
Bell actually called out Paul last December for fighting smaller men with no boxing experience. In July, Bell announced he would not play in the NFL this season with an eye toward exploring his future in boxing. The four-time All-Pro and three-time Pro Bowler knocked out fellow former running back Adrian Peterson in the fifth round of an exhibition bout Sept. 10. Bell has been training at Fortune Gym in Los Angeles ahead of the bout.
“As soon as Most Valuable Promotions approached me about joining the Paul-Silva pay-per-view, I told them I want in and didn’t care who the opponent was,” Bell said. “Uriah Hall is going to feel my punching power and tap out like he’s getting submitted. He is not built like me.”
Hall, though, has far more combat sports experience than Bell and is a black belt in Kyokushin Karate. The fighter from Jamaica, who grew up in New York and now trains at Fortis MMA in Dallas, is a 17-year pro in MMA and spent nine years in the UFC. Hall, 38, announced his retirement from the promotion in August after a loss to Andre Muniz at UFC 276 on July 2, his second straight defeat.
Hall has always been known for his power. He was built as a top prospect on The Ultimate Fighter in 2013 after a brutal spinning hook kick knockout victory on the show. Hall’s propensity for turning his opponents’ lights out didn’t stop while in the UFC. His eight KO/TKO victories are tied with Anderson Silva and Thiago Silva for the most in the history of the promotion’s middleweight division.
“Le’Veon Bell, I hope you bring your best,” Hall said. “I know I will.”
Paul, the YouTuber who is now 5-0 as a pro boxer, will headline the card against former longtime UFC middleweight champion Silva, one of the greatest MMA fighters, who still holds the record for most consecutive victories in UFC history (16). Also on the card, Chris Avila, a UFC and Bellator veteran out of Nate Diaz’s camp, takes on popular YouTube doctor Mikhail “Doctor Mike” Varshavski, and 18-year-old prospect Ashton Sylve meets veteran Braulio Rodriguez in his toughest test to date.
Paul teased that Bell vs. Hall could produce an opponent for himself down the line.
“Adding NFL superstar Le’Veon Bell to the card only increases this fight’s star power and to have him go head-to-head with a fighter as experienced and dangerous as Uriah Hall — it’s going to be fireworks,” Paul said. “Taking on this challenge is proof that Bell, like myself, is serious about professional boxing and after his knockout of Adrian Peterson, he looks like a force to be reckoned with. Hall on the other hand has already proven himself multiple times in the UFC and we know what he is capable of.
The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.