Serious in his prospects of carving out a career in the world of professional boxing, former All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell took a huge leap in competition on Saturday night.
Unfortunately for the former 1,000-yard runner, Bell was unable to pull off the upset.
Bell was shut out in a four-round unanimous decision loss to former UFC fighter Uriah Hall in his professional debut at the Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona, on the undercard of the Jake Paul-Anderson Silva Showtime pay-per-view. Hall won via 40-36 scores across the board.
Though Bell (0-1) lost the bout, he most certainly gained the respect of Hall (1-0), who embraced the former Pittsburgh Steelers Pro Bowler after the scores were read.
“I just told him I have so much respect for him,” Hall said. “It’s such a hard thing to do to switch careers, you know he was a professional football player, and for him to step outside his comfort zone and do this — toughest sport in the world, I don’t care who you are, this is the toughest sport in the world — and I gave him so much props. I’m proud of you man. This should make you understand that this is a hard road, and I promise you, if you keep going, you’ll make it.”
After his first 12 minutes of professional prizefighting, Bell wore a mouse under his left eye. Though the judges’ cards and a hard-to-please Arizona crowd might not have supported it, Bell put forth an admirable accounting of himself considering the circumstances. The 30-year-old, who knocked out former AP NFL Most Valuable Player Adrian Peterson in an exhibition seven weeks prior, held his own against Hall, a longtime UFC middleweight with knockout power. Bell’s movement was particularly good, his chin held up and, according to the opponent, his power was deceivingly impressive.
“He definitely surprised me,” Hall said. “He’s pretty good. I think he does have a spot in this [sport]. Obviously this sports is mental, but for him to stick to his jab to the body, I didn’t know if he was trying to set me up, but he was very consistent with it. And he was strong, man. I cracked a couple of times, I was like holy s—. But I had to keep it together. I’m proud of him, man. You’re a good dude, bro.”
Bell began the fight by pumping a left jab and working from the outside as Hall sported a high guard and often waded in with power punches. Hall kept walking down Bell and landed a solid left hook early. There wasn’t much action in the opening round, which drew boos from an impatient crowd.
Hall began the second round much more aggressively, working his jab more and continuing to be the aggressor. Unorthodox in his movement and quick on his feet, Bell proved to be difficult for Hall to get a bead on, though the latter found success with a quartet of right uppercuts. Bell tried to stick and move, but Hall kept moving forward.
Success was found in the third for Bell, who appeared to hurt Hall with a jab to the body and later landed well with back-to-back right crosses. Hall looked to be getting tired, but for the majority of the round — and the fight — landed the more significant punches.
As the fight wore to a close, Hall landed some good right hands down the stretch. It set the stage for the most exciting moments of the bout as Bell’s mouthpiece went flying in the final 30 seconds — though he might have spit it out himself due to fatigue. Hall was pouring it on and landing solidly, but Bell answered back with punches of his own before the bell ended the fight.
This was a fight Bell wanted, a step up in competition that serviced noticed as to just how serious he was about being a boxer. He turned down a potential bout with former NFL running back Frank Gore, which likely would’ve drawn more fanfare from a crossover audience, to fight a more dangerous and lesser-known Hall.
Having fallen short of an upset win, Bell’s focus on boxing will now be tested as he must decide what’s next.
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