Hard-hitting junior welterweight Kendall Holt has a lot going on in his life other than boxing these days.
A father of two, the former WBO titleholder, of Paterson, N.J., is taking courses at a community college and spending more time than ever with his 8-year-old son, Keshon.
Managed by running back Brandon Jacobs, formerly of the Super Bowl-champion New York Giants, the 30-year-old Holt is absorbing as many football tips as he can toward potentially being a high school coach for his son, to whom he constantly stresses the importance of an education.
But Holt (27-5, 15 knockouts) insists he has not turned his back on his profession as he prepares for Friday night’s ESPN2-televised clash against Baltimore’s Tim Coleman, even though October’s split-decision loss to unbeaten Danny Garcia was the third setback of his past five bouts.
Holt was admittedly “out-hustled” by the 23-year-old Garcia (22-0, 14 KOs), who landed the bigger punches and at times buckled Holt’s knees.
But Holt is also the man who twice rose from the canvas to score a first-round stoppage of Ricardo Torres in July of 2008 to take the WBO belt, and in the process avenged an 11th-round knockout loss suffered in September of 2007.
Then, in April of 2009, Holt lost the title by unanimous decision to Tim Bradley (28-0, 12 knockouts), who himself got up from two knockdowns to score the eventual win.
In his next fight, Holt, after absorbing six rounds of tough body shots, sat in the corner as his trainer called an end to a battle with Kaizer Mabuza .
Far from discouraging him, Holt says his experiences make him a battle-tested veteran and give him confidence going into the fight against Coleman (19-2-1, 5 KOs), a 27-year-old who was stopped in the seventh round of his last fight by Vernon Paris.
Holt spoke to RingTV.com about his life, his career and Coleman in this Q&A.
RingTV.com: So how does your son compare to you, athletically?
Kendall Holt: Well, he’s an all-around athlete right now. He does every sport — boxing, football, baseball, basketball, and he’s done some wrestling.
But, right now, the sky’s the lmit. It doesn’t matter where he puts his time. Whatever the sport is that he puts his time in, he excels in.
Basically, I’m looking forward to him doing well in football and basketball, because boxing is such a rough and tough sport. And with those other key sports, the minimum that he can get out of it is to at least go to college for free.
RingTV.com: Given that you obviously want to be even more a part of your son’s life, how long do you believe that you will continue to fight and when will you know that it’s time to step down?
KH: Right now, I won’t make any decisions until I finish with school. Once school is done, then I’ll see where my career is at that time and then decide from there. But I won’t make any rash decisions until school is complete.
I’m at Passaic County Community College, and I’ve been a single father for about seven or eight years. I have two kids, Keyshawn, who lives with me, and Jaden, who lives with his mother in Newark, N.J. Jaden is seven years old.
RingTV.com: What are you studying?
KH: I’m back in college and right now, I’m just taking my general education classes, which is your math, your English, and your writing classes until I get my associates degree. Then, I’ll transfer to a four-year college to obtain a bachelor’s degree in physical therapy.
It’s been something that I’ve wanted to do for some time, but I preach to my son a lot about the importance of going to college, so this is a good example for him.
It seems that he’s going to be an athlete, being that he’s been playing every sport for about five years now, and I think that this is beneficial for him and for me. It’s preparing me for when boxing’s over.
RingTV.com: Is your son a good boxer?
KH: Well, last year, he won the junior golden gloves out here in New Jersey. But boxing is not my first thought for him. He’s been playing football for four or five years.
His team went undefeated and he scored the bulk of the touchdowns. Sometimes, it’s three, four or five touchdowns a game. He’ll turn 9 in June.
He’s a slender kid with a very athletic build, and he’s very, very, very fast. Once he gets to the outside, it’s almost impossible to catch him.
RingTV.com: Has being around Jacobs, who is also a running back, taught you anything about what to say to your son concerning his future?
KH:Yes it has. He sees the players. He knows that they’ve gone to college, and that they’ve had to work hard to get where they’ve gotten.
They tell him about the hard work that it takes, and, that in order to even get seen by the NFL scouts, that they had to get good grades so that they could go to college.
RingTV.com: How eager are you to get back into the ring and to erase the feeling of your last loss?
KH: I’ve been ready to get back into the ring in November. I’ve been ready for a while. Any loss in my position, it knocks me back. But I’m not in a position that I’m unfamiliar with.
I’ve fought my way from the bottom and back to the top, and I’m not opposed to doing that again.
RingTV.com: In Coleman, a guy who is also coming off of a loss, aren’t you facing a guy who might share a similar mentality as yours?
KH: It’s pretty much probably going to be the same thing for him. He’s looking at this as an opportunity to be a world champion, and I’m a former world champion.
I’m looking at it as an opportunity to show the world that I can still go out there and bang with the best of them and look impressive doing it.
So our mindset and the mentality is probably going to be the same between us. I’m going out there and trying to win, and I think that’s going to make for a great fight come Friday night.
RingTV.com: Have you learned anything or changed anything over the course of your last fight?
KH: I don’t think that I was properly prepared. I had only been in the gym for about a week of sparring during my preparation in camp. So I think that actually hurt me a lot.
I had been working with Buddy McGirt for that fight, and that’s what was available where we were at. We were supposed to have options for sparring, and, for one reason or another, that didn’t happen.
But I attribute that loss to being unprepared. But this time, I’ve done a lot more strength and conditioning, and I’m training with my father, and I’ve done a lot more sparring.
RingTV.com: How important is this fight toward helping you to decide your future?
KH: I think that this fight is extremely important, because I need to show myself and show the rest of the world that I’m still on the level of a higher caliber fighter even though I fell a level.
I feel that I’m at a good level to compete right now, and that’s something that I have to prove to myself in order to continue going forward with my career.
I’m trying to become a two-time world champion, and, ultimately, a three-time world champion because I want to be in the Hall of Fame one day. Those are among my goals.
Photo by Naoki Fukuda
Lem Satterfield can be reached at [email protected]