Fights in poker are rarely a good thing. A scheduled boxing match that raises money for a reputable charity, however, is a wonderful thing.
The fight was announced on December 8 as a boxing match between poker pros Brian Rast and Sorel Mizzi. The good-spirited sparring contest was set for December 30 at the Syndicate Mixed Martial Arts gym in Las Vegas, with VIP tickets (to sit ringside) going for $80 and general admission listed at $20 each.
All funds raised from the event were set up to benefit an organization called Raising for Effective Giving (REG), which was launched by a group of poker players interested in making a positive impact on the world. Money donated to REG is distributed to various charities for the purpose of alleviating poverty, helping animals and reducing the effects of climate change, and research that helps to improve the world as effectively as possible.
In One Corner: Brian Rast
Brian Rast weighed in at $16.3 million in lifetime live tournament earnings, with a height of seventh on the all-time US money list. The Global Poker Index ranks him at 39th in the world, and he has two WSOP bracelets to his name. His largest tournament win to date came this year in the $500K buy-in Super High Roller Bowl in Las Vegas, which he won for $7,525,000. Prior to that, it was his 2011 WSOP Poker Players Championship victory for $1.7 million.
His confidence level was high before the fight, as he tweeted various from Muhammad Ali and various philosophers. He also noted that the intense training for the fight was helping his focus at the poker tables.
In the Other Corner: Sorel Mizzi
Sorel Mizzi weighed in at $11.15 million in lifetime live tournament earnings, with a height of fourth on the all-time Canada money list. The Global Poker Index ranking was 112th as of December 30, and he was the PartyPoker Premier League VII champion. In addition to many high roller tournament titles, Mizzi’s highest score was from a third place finish in the 2013 GuangDong Asia Millions Main Event in Macau, which was worth more than $2 million.
His confidence throughout December was evident as well, via tweeted quotes by the likes of Ernest Hemingway and the use of customized cardiovascular training.
Maria Ho and Melanie Weisner sang the Star Spangled Banner to kick off the festivities, and Antonio Esfandiari and Phil Laak served as the announcers.
The duo was set to battle it out until a knockout or decision after four rounds. But a decision came sooner.
Mizzi dominated the first round, knocking Rast down three times. The action was clearly going Mizzi’s way, and the referee wanted to call the fight for Mizzi during that first round. However, Mizzi insisted that the fight continue, and he went on to knock his opponent down again in the second round. Mizzi was so dominant in the third round that the referee did call the fight, and Mizzi accepted his well-earned victory.
Just like that, Mizzi was the champion. He used his power and enough of his training to control the fight and collect the full win when he was ready. Both fighters complimented and congratulated each other in the true spirit of good sportsmanship.
Congratulations @sorelmizzi on the victory! He straight up out-brawled me and I didn't have an answer for it.— Brian Rast (@tsarrast) December 31, 2015
With numerous poker pros and fans in the house, as well as Dan Bilzerian, REG was the actual winner of the night, with the charity garnering attention and funds that will be distributed to respectable charities.