NEW JERSEY, N.J. – Kendall Holt was on his couch watching episodes of 24 on Netflix, debating whether or not to go to the gym, when he got the news. Zab Judah had allowed a deadline to pass on Monday, foregoing his opportunity to face the IBF junior welterweight titleholder Lamont Peterson. In effect, Judah handed the ball to Holt, who is the organization’s next highest-rated contender at No. 4.
Suffice it to say, Holt decided to go to the gym.
Holt (28-5, 16 knockouts), of Paterson, N.J., and his promoter Gary Shaw Productions have until Nov. 22 to negotiate with Peterson and his representatives Headbangers Promotions. Should they not come to an agreement, a purse bid would be filed in accordance with IBF regulations.
For Holt, who has been inactive since March after knocking out Tim Coleman in two rounds, the news couldn’t come soon enough.
“I was just sitting on the shelf collecting dust like the old people do,” said the former WBO junior welterweight titleholder, who was taking the semester off from classes at Passaic Community College to bring his son to football practice and rehab his right shoulder following surgery on Aug. 17.
Peterson (30-1-1, 15 KOs), of Washington D.C., has been out longer, having not fought since his split-decision victory over Amir Khan in December to wrest the WBA and IBF 140 pound belts. Peterson would later lose the WBA belt – and much of his reputation – when a May 19 rematch with Khan was nixed after Peterson tested positive for synthetic testosterone in a pre-fight urine test administered by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency (VADA).
Holt says he doesn’t care if VADA is or isn’t involved as he says he doesn’t believe performance-enhancing substances play a significant role in a fighter’s ability.
“If he wants to use steroids, that’s his body. Steroids won’t get him any advantage,” said Holt, 31. “To me they don’t give a fighter an advantage. It won’t make you hit harder, it won’t make you see the punches coming any clearer, it won’t make you move your head better, it won’t make you have heart.
“If he takes them, he takes them. I don’t care if VADA is involved or not. My thing is to worry about Kendall Holt and what he can do to win this fight.”
Holt is now trained by future Hall of Famer Roy Jones Jr., who served as chief second for Holt in the Coleman bout. Holt is currently in New Jersey getting himself back in shape, but says he hasn’t yet spoken with Jones about where training camp will be.
“We haven’t decided where we’ll set up camp yet, but if it’s [Roy Jones Jr.’s Florida hometown] Pensacola, then Pensacola in the house!” exclaimed Holt.
Ryan Songalia is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) and contributes to GMA News. He is also a member of The Ring ratings panel and can be reached at [email protected]. An archive of his work can be found at www.ryansongalia.com. Follow him on Twitter: @RyanSongalia.