Sunday, March 26, 2023  |


Ardreal Holmes outboxes Ismael Villarreal to split decision win on ShoBox

Photo by Stephanie Trapp/SHOWTIME

Ardreal Holmes Jr. had too much craft for Ismael Villarreal on Friday night, outboxing him to a split-decision in the ShoBox: The New Generation main event at the Stormont Vail Event Center in Topeka, Kansas.

Two judges scored the fight for the southpaw Holmes (13-0, 5 knockouts), 96-94 and 97-93, while a third judged preferred the aggression of Villarreal (12-1, 8 KOs) at 96-94.

The 6’2” Holmes of Flint, Mich. made effective use of his height and reach reach advantage over the 5’8” Bronx native, picking him off as he walked in without a jab or head movement and tying him up in close. Villarreal had his opportunities to land as Holmes, a 2015 U.S. National champion, trapped himself in the corner, but found himself in clinches due to the predictability of his attack. Holmes did his best work in rounds five and six, but appeared frustrated in the seventh and eighth rounds as he backed up inexplicably and allowed Holmes to land 4 and 5 punch combinations.

“I felt like he won two, three rounds,” Holmes said. “I don’t know where that one card came from. I feel like I dominated the fight and felt like he might have gotten two or three middle rounds, but that was the max. I felt like I out-jabbed him and out-fought him. I felt like this was a step-up from last time I fought, and this was a tougher fight. I’m only 13 fights in so I’m going to keep improving.”

Villarreal tried desperately to score a knockout in round ten, but Holmes was able to tie him up and smother his punches while countering effectively.

The loss is the first for Villarreal, a two-time New York Golden Gloves champ who upset the previously undefeated LeShawn Rodriguez by sixth round stoppage last July.

Holmes, who is signed to Split-T Management, has now won in back-to-back ShoBox appearances.

Earlier in the night, Edward Vazquez (14-1, 3 KOs) scored a second round knockdown against Misael Lopez (14-2, 5 KOs), which proved to be the difference as the Fort Worth, Tex. featherweight edged Lopez by split decision in their ten-round bout. Two judges scored the bout 95-94 and 96-93 for Vazquez, while the third had it 95-94 for Lopez in the entertaining bout.

Opening the broadcast, Kurt Scoby (11-0, 9 KOs) made quick work of the erstwhile unbeaten John Mannu (7-1-1, 4 KOs), dropping him four times in the second round to win a technical knockout in their 8-round junior welterweight bout. Scoby, a 27-year-old from Duarte, Calif. who now trains out of Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn, N.Y., started the knockdown party with a straight right hand against his taller opponent, and finished him off with a body shot at the 1:40 mark.

Photo by Stephanie Trapp/SHOWTIME

“I don’t get paid for overtime, so I had to get him out of there,” said Scoby, who played football for three seasons as a running back at Azusa Pacific University before turning pro in 2020.

“The game plan was always to stay with the jab. If you have a strong team and you believe, you can do anything in this world. You know what I want next? I want to just go back home and be able to understand myself a little bit more. That’s my next opponent.”

Ryan Songalia has written for ESPN, the New York Daily News, Rappler and The Guardian, and is part of the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism Class of 2020. He can be reached at [email protected].