Donald Trump reportedly used his 9/11 boxing commentary gig to push familiar lies about having lost the “rigged” 2020 election, as he watched Vitor Belfort stop Evander Holyfield in the first round of Saturday night’s headliner.
The former president returned to the public scene to call a bizarre match-up that ended abruptly following a flurry of blows from Mr Belfort, a mixed martial artist.
Mr Trump’s decision to spend the 20th anniversary of 9/11 commentating on a boxing match had attracted criticism, the move contrasting with other former presidents’ solemn attendance at memorial events.
The Republican was asked about the anniversary and took the opportunity to throw a few jabs at his successor, Joe Biden. According to USA Today, he said the Democrat had presided over “a very bad week because of some very bad decisions that were made”.
He added: “We should have never allowed to happen what happened in Afghanistan with 13 great warriors and many injured and many people killed in these final few days and it was just a shame.”
Mr Trump also, while waiting for referees to return their scores in an undercard bout, reportedly said he had seen many bad boxing decisions over the years, adding: “It’s like the elections. It could be rigged.”
US authorities have found no evidence of widespread voter fraud in last year’s presidential election, and efforts by groups loyal to Mr Trump to prove a conspiracy of misconduct have failed in the courts.
Mr Trump spent much of the autumn of 2020 trying to discredit the poll before it took place, and afterwards claimed his predictions of vote theft had come true when his apparently commanding lead in several states evaporated in the days following 3 November.
In fact, the reversals were due to mail-in votes he had spent months decrying as illegitimate being counted after ballots cast in person. Democrats are more likely to vote by post than Republicans, and this effect, combined with the widespread adoption of remote voting due to coronavirus, led to the delay in producing the complete tallies.