Skip to main content

Le'Veon Bell KO's Adrian Peterson in exhibition boxing match between former All-Pro backs 

In a battle of former All-Pro running backs inside the boxing ring Saturday night, there was little in the way of significant shots landed for eight minutes and 21 seconds.

Then Le'Veon Bell connected with a crushing overhand right to stop Adrian Peterson via technical knockout in the fifth round of a heavyweight exhibition boxing bout on the Social Gloves 2 card at the Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles.

Bell came out in the fifth with his hands low as he had for much of the bout. He feinted a right hand, pulled it back and then unleashed the fury with a scintillating overhand right that connected savagely with Peterson's chin. Peterson's right knee buckled under him and he rolled over on his backside before getting to his feet. The official stopped the fight and Peterson protested, but his legs were wobbled and his eyes glassy.

The end came in the fifth and final round of a bout that was contested with two-minute rounds (men's professional boxing rounds are fought with three-minute rounds).

Originally scheduled for July 30 at the Arena, also in L.A., the Social Gloves 2 card, along with the Bell-Peterson showdown, was postponed when the main event between YouTube stars AnEsonGib and Austin McBroom fell through.

The 30-year-old Bell, a three-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro for the Pittsburgh Steelers before playing for four other teams across the previous three seasons, had said in the lead-in to the fight that he would not play football this season, deciding to focus solely on boxing. He flashed the better footwork on Saturday and the one, big punch of the bout to stop Peterson, 37.

Peterson, a surefire future Pro Football Hall of Famer with four All-Pros and an AP NFL Most Valuable Player to his credit, played in 2021 with the Tennessee Titans and Seattle Seahawks. He starred for 10 years with the Minnesota Vikings to begin his career. Bell spent 2021 in limited action with the Baltimore Ravens and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

At the onset of the bout, Bell and Peterson were each heavy on posturing and finding range behind jabs. There was little in terms of action or punches landed.

In the second round, Peterson proved to be the more stationary target and worked behind a more conventional stance, while Bell worked with his hands down and was reaching. Peterson used a jab to send Bell to the canvas, but it wasn't ruled a knockdown because the official appeared to believe Bell's foot was stepped on. Replays showed it was a clean jab to the body and an off-balance Bell was sent down briefly, though he definitely wasn't hurt by the punch. Bell looked for openings and Peterson briefly changed to a southpaw stance, but, again, neither was all that active.

The third round saw more punches thrown than either of the previous two, but Bell and Peterson continued to work on the outside, neither looking to engage or get inside. Bell did begin to throw some overhand rights, which was a foreshadowing of what was to come.

The fourth round followed the script of the previous three as punches of significance were rare. Bell's confidence looked to be rising, though, as he worked closer inside Peterson's range and began to throw more power punches -- even if they weren't connecting.

Twenty-two seconds into the fifth, Bell landed the first and last punch of any significance and it was devastating.

Though Bell prevailed, neither fighter looked all that impressive, but in fairness it was their first forays in the ring. With celebrity boxing bouts still prevalent, Bell has a highlight-reel TKO to go forward with. Perhaps a showdown with another ex-NFL running back awaits as Frank Gore is 1-0 as a pro boxer.

On the eve of the 2022 NFL season's first Sunday, a pair of superstar RBs debuted in the boxing ring and it was Bell who ended the evening in celebration on the turnbuckle with his arms raised in triumph.

Related Content