Le’Veon Bell wasn’t interested in fighting another former NFL player on the Jake Paul-Anderson Silva undercard Saturday night.
The ex-Pittsburgh Steelers star informed Paul that he wants to challenge himself incrementally, bout-by-bout, because he is taking his boxing career seriously. They eventually chose former UFC middleweight contender Uriah Hall, who will battle Bell in a four-round cruiserweight contest just seven weeks after Bell knocked out another retired Pro Bowler, Adrian Peterson, in the fifth round of their exhibition September 10 in Los Angeles.
The 30-year-old Bell has prepared for a much more difficult fight with Hall than Peterson provided. Bell, though comparatively inexperienced in combat sports, disagrees with those that believe he has taken too steep of a step up in competition against an opponent who was considered one of UFC’s most dangerous strikers during his MMA career.
“It’ll be a much tougher challenge because of the fact that he’s been fighting for 17 years,” Bell said during a virtual press conference recently. “So, he’s not necessarily a [boxer]. I guess when I was fighting Adrian Peterson there was a lot of times when I feel like he was a little kinda timid fighting me because maybe it was his first fight. I don’t feel Uriah will be that way.
“I feel like Uriah is gonna be more confident because he’s been in front of, you know, fighters for 17 years. You know, he’s been hit before, you know, not only by punches, by kicks and all type of things. So, I think he’ll be a lot more confident than Adrian Peterson was. You know, and I think that’ll be the biggest difference for me because I’ll actually have a guy who’s really like trying to actually fight me back, you know, and we’ll see how it goes from there.”
Hall, 38, announced his retirement from mixed martial arts August 10, but the native Jamaican was intrigued by this opportunity to face another retired professional athlete. Hall’s pro boxing debut will come against an opponent who stopped Peterson with a right hand that knocked him to the canvas and abruptly halted their fight at Banc of California Stadium.
There wasn’t much action between Bell and Peterson before Bell blasted the NFL’s fifth all-time leading rusher with a straight right hand that made him fall awkwardly on his back, with his right leg bent beneath him. Peterson beat the count, but clearly wasn’t in any condition to continue.
“That feeling was crazy,” Bell said. “I’ve had games where I’ve had like 200 yards and like three touchdowns. But the feeling I had when knocking somebody out, that takes the cake over any like initial feeling I’ve had in football. Hands down.”
Showtime will televise Bell-Hall as part of a five-fight show Paul (5-0, 4 KOs), of Westlake, Ohio, and Brazil’s Silva (3-1, 2 KOs) will headline in an eight-round cruiserweight bout at Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona. FanDuel sportsbook has listed Hall, who went 18-11 (13 KOs) in MMA matches, as almost a 5-1 favorite to beat Bell.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.