Running backs getting into the ring is becoming a trend.
Adrian Peterson, the NFL's fifth all-time leading rusher, and Le’Veon Bell, a former two-time All-Pro, are slated to face off in an exhibition boxing match on July 30 at the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles, promoter Social Gloves Entertainment announced Friday.
Neither Peterson, 37, nor Bell, 30, has ever competed in a boxing ring, or officially retired from the NFL.
Peterson played in a total of four games in 2021 -- three for the Tennessee Titans and one for the Seattle Seahawks -- to mark his 17th NFL season and his sixth and seventh teams. Bell also saw time for a pair of teams in 2021, splitting eight appearances with the Baltimore Ravens and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Peterson-Bell showdown will take place on the undercard of Social Gloves 2, a card that continues the trend of boxing events featuring social media personalities, athletes and celebrities. Social Gloves 2, which will be a pay-per-view stream, is set to be headlined by YouTube personalities Austin McGroom and AnEsonGib. It will also feature ex-NBA player Nick Young fighting rapper Blueface, and rapper DGG toeing the line with rapper PnB Rock.
Bell and Peterson's first foray into the ring will be an exhibition, though, just like Gore's against former NBA player Deron Williams in December of 2021.
Largely sparked by YouTuber Jake Paul facing other YouTube celebrities, former NBA player Nate Robinson and most recently older former mixed martial artists who had predominantly wrestling bases, the celebrity boxing world is now a destination for former standout running backs it would seem.
However, prominent NFL players dabbling in the sweet science isn't exactly novel. Longtime NFL defensive lineman Lyle Alzado once boxed Muhammed Ali in an exhibition and other former D-linemen Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Alonzo Highsmith and Mark Gastineau have ventured into pro boxing. Highsmith actually knocked out Gastineau after both had largely fattened their records defeating journeymen.
Bell, who's seven years Peterson's junior, is a three-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro. Those accolades came in five seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Having sat out the 2018 season amid a contract dispute with the Steelers, Bell signed a lucrative deal with the New York Jets, but never found his previous form and during his second season with the club was released. He went on to play for the Kansas City Chiefs, Ravens and Bucs.
Peterson is seen by most as an all-time great with 14,918 rushing yards to support that claim. With 120 rushing touchdowns to his career, Peterson was also the last running back to win AP NFL Most Valuable Player, which he did in 2012 amid his 10-season tenure with the Minnesota Vikings. Thereafter, Peterson played for the Arizona Cardinals, New Orleans Saints, Washington, Detroit Lions, Titans and Seahawks.
Peterson and Bell are each currently free agents.
Two former running back greats who starred on Sundays are now set to throw hands on a Saturday night.