Bradley-Holt not the biggest fight, but worth watching
Kendall Holt hopes to add another belt to his collection when he faces fellow 140-pound titleholder Timothy Bradley this Saturday in a Showtime-televised main event from Montreal. Photo / Ed Mulholland-Fightwireimages.com
On May 2, Manny Pacquiao and Ricky Hatton will get together in Las Vegas for the world junior welterweight title in what qualifies as a genuine superfight. It will be huge, but it's hardly the only match at 140 pounds that warrants our attention.
Next Saturday, Kendall Holt and Timothy Bradley meet in Montreal. It won't be as big as Pacquiao-Hatton, it won't make its benefactors or its contestants nearly as much money, and even in boxing-crazy Montreal, it won't carry the same electricity.
The stakes are not as high. Neither Holt nor Bradley are pound-for-pound guys; THE RING rates Bradley the top contender at 140, Holt at number six.
There's no world title at stake, unless you've bought into this alphabet title baloney. Neither guy will be carrying a country on his shoulders, and chances are slim that there will be much drunken singing from the cheap seats.
Still, it's a heck of a fight between two high-quality prizefighters, and might prove more competitive than Pacquiao-Hatton.
Holt (25-2, 13 knockouts) surprised a lot of us last time out by beating late replacement Demetrius Hopkins, who stepped in after power-punching Ricardo Torres, with whom Holt has developed a simmering rivalry, pulled out at the last minute.
A lot of us thought Hopkins, a very skilled, solid pro, would prove too much for Holt, especially since he practices a style diametrically opposed to the one for which Holt was preparing. But Holt pulled out a decision win in a close, taut match.
“I wasn't surprised that Holt beat Hopkins, though I felt Hopkins was extremely dangerous for a substitute,” said Showtime's Steve Farhood, who has called several of Holt's fights, as well as Bradley's.
“You have to pressure Holt to beat him. Hopkins fought as if it were his first title fight (which it was) and he was content just to be competitive. Holt took advantage of that and did enough to win.”
Bradley (23-0, 11 KOs) was impressed too.
“I thought his last fight was a great performance with the changed opponent,” the WBC titleholder said. “He's a great fighter. He has speed, power, movement and footwork. He's a really clever guy in the ring and that's what makes him a world champion. I take nothing away from Kendall Holt.
“He's a force to be reckoned with, he's a great fighter, but I just think I'm better.”
Bradley's last fight, a lopsided decision win over hard-hitting Edner Cherry, was no less impressive. He displayed the talents we've come to associate with him: speed, power, and solid skills, a tool belt that did not go unnoticed by Holt.
“I can't really compare Bradley to anyone I have fought before because he has natural ability,” the WBO beltholder said. “He is a different kind of boxer, a boxer with a jab and decent speed, so I can't compare him to anyone I've fought before.
“At different times I'll try different things. I wouldn't say he's a boxer-puncher. I'd say he's a good puncher and he has a decent right hand. But I'm going to test everything. I'm going to test his heart, test his will, test his chin, test his stamina. I'm testing everything because I need that belt.”
Holt has, on occasion, tested the patience level of his fans. He has the kind of speed and temperament to turn a potentially exciting fight into a snooze fest, as he did against shopworn veteran Ben Tackie in a 2008 decision win. If he can do against Bradley what he did against Tackie, he'll get a win but alienate an entire generation of fans.
“If Holt outboxes Bradley, it'll be because he's taller, rangier, and more mobile,” said Farhood. “Kendall can be thrilling or boring, depending on the style of fight. It's Bradley's job to make this an exciting fight, both for himself and for the fans. He has to stay low, attack, and force a fast pace.”
Holt sees an exciting fight either way.
“Because of his talents and his abilities this fight has the ability to be the fight of the year,” he said. “I'm not going to back down and I hope he's doesn't back down. This fight could potentially be fight of the year.”
That's unlikely; fights-of-the-year typically feature loads of offense, little defense, and enough back and forth violence to make Quentin Tarantino squeamish. Neither of these guys fights that way. You're more likely to see that in Pacquiao-Hatton.
That doesn't mean Bradley-Holt won't be any good. It'll just be smaller.
Some random observations from last week:
Sam Peter looked only marginally better losing to Eddie Chambers on Friday Night Fights than he did serving as Vitali Klitschko's personal pi├▒ata. And that had more to do with the difference between Chambers and Klitschko than it did with Peter.
So much for Team Peter's story that the Germans hurt Peter's feelings so badly that the big guy forgot how to fight. I guess the locals in Los Angeles were just as rude, as Peter, after weighing in at a lumbering 265 pounds, proceeded to swallow Chambers' jabs like they were so many M&Ms.
I understand the disappointment some expressed with Chambers' reluctance to open up, but crikey, the guy's a boxer. That's what he does, and against a guy whose physical dimensions approximate a post office, I don't blame him. For what it's worth, off TV I didn't give Peter a round and fail to see how anyone else did.
How much longer will the suits at ESPN put up with Teddy Atlas alerting viewers that the fight they're about to watch is a mismatch?.
The pre-fight instructions of Dr. James Jen Kin, my favorite referee, have gotten even pithier: “Gentlemen, obey my commands.” Beautiful.
Now that the test results are back, there's only one appropriate punishment for Antonio Margarito and Javier Capetillo: a lifelong ban.
Kudos to Harry Yorgey and Ronald Hearns, who put on a heck of a good scrap on ShoBox Saturday night. Hearns showed real heart by staying in there after getting floored early, and Yorgey showed he's not just another bald, white, protected clubfighter. Good for him.