Antonio Esfandiari Set To Embarrass Himself In Boxing Match With Kevin Hart

July 30, 2018
Antonio Esfandiari Set To Embarrass Himself In Boxing Match With Kevin Hart

Following in the footsteps of poker luminaries such as Gus Hansen and Brian Rast, Antonio Esfandiari looks to be the latest pro poker player willing to embarrass himself by jumping in a boxing ring.

Esfandiari told TMZ Sports last week he and actor/comedian/athlete Kevin Hart have come to terms on a bet that will see the two fight next Spring:

“Kevin Hart and I were playing the other day, we were hanging out, we weren’t really playing, and somehow boxing comes up. So, we made a bet, and in March, around March, we are going to box in a ring.”

Apparently, Esfandiari got 35 to 1 odds on the bet, although the amount wagered was not disclosed:

“Kevin’s in much better shape. He’s an athlete. He’s fast as hell…I got the reach, I have a little bit of weight, but he’s fast, quick and he’s strong.”

Esfandiari refused to divulge whether or not he’s started training for the match. However, it’s clear that Hart has. In fact, there are photos and videos of Hart boxing all over the internet, suggesting he regularly trains and may be ready to hop in the ring today.

Poker and boxing don’t mix

Boxing has not been too kind to the images of the pro poker players or celebrities who have fought previously.

Back in 2009, poker pros Theo Jorgensen and Gus Hansen held a boxing match in Copenhagen, Denmark. If the match proved one thing, it was that neither is a professional fighter.

In 2011, Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier and Lex ‘RaSZi’ Veldhuis squared off in a kickboxing match that quickly dissolved into an embarrassment. Both men were left gasping for air in minutes.

Sorel Mizzi pummeled Brian Rast in a boxing match held in Las Vegas, Nevada in 2016. Although the bout is best described as amateurish, at least they managed to raise almost $9,000 for charity by doing it.

That same year, Olivier Busquet and JC Alvarado made a six-figure bet on an MMA match. This remains the one fight between poker players that turned out to be something other than embarrassing, at least for one of them.

Both had clearly trained and performed admirably. Although, Alvarado was clearly outclassed by the bigger, stronger and faster Busquet.

Celebrity boxing embarrassments

Celebrities haven’t fared much better in the ring.

FOX television ran the short-lived Celebrity Boxing TV show back in 2002 pitting notorious celebrities against one another in three-round boxing matches.

The show made the top ten of TV Guide’s 50 Worst TV Shows of All Time. Highlights included Todd Bridges beating up on Vanilla Ice and Tonya Harding winning by technical knockout over a reluctant Paula Jones.

Dustin “Screetch” Diamond also took on Ron “Horshack” Palillo in a battle of the TV nerds. No reputation left the Celebrity Boxing ring unscathed.

Esfandiari’s previous lapse in judgment

Of course, Esfandiari is no stranger to allowing prop bets to reach embarrassing levels. He was disqualified from the 2016 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure main event for relieving himself in a receptacle underneath a poker table in an effort to win a bet.

Apparently, Esfandiari had bet billionaire Bill Perkins he could lunge everywhere he went around the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas for a 48-hour period. He didn’t want to lunge to the bathroom, saying it was starting to take a toll on his legs. Esfandiari ultimately apologized for the lapse in judgment.

However, it appears he’s ready to make another one. Taking on Hart in the ring has to be considered a bad idea for the 39-year-old poker player.

While Hart is only 5″4′, and also 39, he clearly has a lot more boxing experience.

Morning work #HustleHart #MoveWithHart #Progression

A post shared by Kevin Hart (@kevinhart4real) on

Hart signed a deal to become a PokerStars ambassador in 2017, but he’s more athlete than poker pro. He’s run marathons, won multiple NBA All-Star Celebrity Game MVP awards, and in 2016, Hart signed an endorsement deal with Nike, something usually reserved only for pro athletes.

At 35-1, Esfandiari may think he’s getting the better side of the bet. However, he appears to have little chance of doing anything but embarrassing himself. Therefore, he should probably stick to poker, where he knows he has an edge on Hart. Even if he admits it is a diminishing one:

“He’s pretty good. He’s still a little fishy, but he’s pretty good.”

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