Have you ever wanted to punch poker pro Antonio Esfandiari right in the face? Well then it is too bad you aren’t comedian and actor Kevin Hart, because he was afforded that opportunity on Saturday when he and Esfandiari squared off in a three-round boxing match. There was no animosity – this was a prop bet between friends – and it was the rangier Esfandiari who won by decision.
If you think this all sounds weird, well, it is. Kevin Hart is obviously best known for his stand-up comedy and movie career, but he is an avid poker player, as well, with a PokerStars sponsorship and everything). The two men met playing poker and became friends. The idea for a pugilistic wager came up in July 2018 and both men assumed Hart had a massive advantage because he was in better shape and has boxing experience, so Hart gave Esfandiari 35-1 odds.
Esfandiari told CardPlayer Magazine at the time:
I’m taller than him, and probably have 35-40 pounds on him. But there’s also a reason I got 35:1 odds. He’s a natural athlete, he’s in incredible shape, and he’s been boxing for a long time. He’s a beast. Yeah, I work out, do some yoga and lift some weights, and try to maintain good physical well-being. But my cardiovascular [endurance] is awful compared to his. So, I have a height advantage, but he’s a clear favorite.
Esfandiari thought he would have to win by a lucky punch knockout, that he would not be able to win by decision in the three 3-minute rounds. He hired a trainer, but still didn’t have much confidence, saying last year, “But no matter how much I train, Kevin will always be stronger and faster. The more I train the more of a chance I have to win. I know a ton of people will be watching this, so I don’t want to go in there and get my ass handed to me and get knocked out in five seconds. I don’t want to be that guy.”
And he wasn’t that guy! Despite his perceived disadvantage, Esfandiari was, in fact, able to emerge victorious by decision.
Hart was gracious in defeat, writing on Instagram:
I wanna take the time to congratulate my guy Antonio Esfandiari on a [sic] amazing sparring match today. We went 3 3min rounds and both gave it our all. In the end you were the winner by decision. You worked hard and deserve the W champ. Good shit….I want a rematch as soon as I catch my fucking breathe [sic] again
There is no word on how much money was wagered, but considering the 35-1 odds and the amount of money both men likely have, one might guess that the purse was not insignificant. Probably not to the levels of Esfandiari’s Big One for One Drop title, but I’d be shocked if it wasn’t well into the six-figures range.