Serious about his prospects of carving out a career in the world of professional boxing, former All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell took a giant leap into the competition Saturday night.
Unfortunately for the former 1,000-yard rusher, Bell was unable to pull off the upset.
Bell was knocked 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 by a score of 40-36 across the board.
Although Bell (0-1) lost the game, he certainly earned the respect of Hall (1-0), who hugged 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 so hard to change careers, you know he was a professional football player and to step out of his comfort zone and do this — the 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 will make you realize that this is a hard road and I promise you if you keep going you will make it.”
After the first 12 minutes of the professional prizefight, Bell wore a mouse under his left eye. While the judges’ cards and a tough crowd in Arizona may not have backed it up, Bell gave an admirable account of himself considering the circumstances. The 30-year-old, who knocked out former AP NFL MVP Adrian Peterson in an exhibition seven weeks ago, had his own opponent in Hall, a longtime UFC middleweight with knockout power. Bell’s movement was particularly good, his chin lifted and, according to the opponent, his strength was deceptively impressive.
“It definitely surprised me,” Hall said. “He is very good. I think it has a place in it [sport]. Obviously this sport is mental, but for him to stick with his body jab, 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 broke down a couple of times, I was like a saint—. But I had to keep it together. I’m proud of him, man. You’re a good dude, bro.”
Bell started the bout landing a left jab and working from the outside as Hall wore a high guard and often came in with powerful punches. Hall continued to walk under Bell and landed a solid left hook early. There wasn’t much action in the first round, which drew boos from an impatient crowd.
Hall started the second round much more aggressive, working harder and continuing to be the aggressor. Unorthodox in his movement and quick on his feet, Bell proved difficult for Hall to get a bead on, although the latter found success with a quartet of right uppercuts. Bell tried to hang on and move, but Hall kept going.
Success came in the third for Bell, who appeared to hurt Hall with a jab to the body and later landed well with backhand right crosses. Hall looked to be tiring, but for most of the round — and the fight — he landed the most important punches.
As the fight wound down, Hall landed some good right hands down the stretch. It set the stage for the most exciting moments of the match as Bell’s mouthpiece flew off in the final 30 seconds — although he may have spit it out himself due to fatigue. Hall was throwing it and landing solid, but Bell answered with punches of his own before the bell ended the fight.
This was a fight Bell wanted, a step up in competition that showed how serious he was about becoming a boxer. He turned down a potential matchup with former NFL running back Frank Gore, which would likely have drawn more fanfare than a mainstream crossover, to fight a more dangerous and lesser-known Hall.
Having fallen short of an upset win, Bell’s boxing focus will now be tested as he must decide what to do next.