Holt Looks to Make One Last Run By Steve Kim, MaxBoxing (Jan 28, 2011) Special to Doghouse Boxing - Tweet
Before Tim Bradley and Devon Alexander do battle on Saturday night (HBO,10 PM, ET/7 PM, PT) at the Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan, Kendall Holt faces journeyman Lenin Arroyo as he tries to regain the bearings on his career. Holt, who recently signed on with Gary Shaw's promotional outfit, can't help but think that it should be him fighting in the main event for all (well, at least most) the marbles in the junior welterweight division.
It wasn’t that long ago that Holt himself faced the “Desert Storm” (in April of 2009 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Canada) for the WBO belt that is now around the waist of Bradley (who held the WBC strap at the time). In their unification tilt, Holt had Bradley looking up at the roof of that facility, courtesy of a blistering left hook near the end of the first round. Unfortunately, other than that instance and knocking down Bradley in the final inning, Holt was consistently outworked and lost a unanimous decision.
"I think about it every time I come to the gym and lace up my boots and my gloves. I can't believe after being in the main event with Tim Bradley, I'm actually opening up for him now. That's a helluva fall," admitted Holt. It's all part of a career that has not panned out to his lofty expectations. "Absolutely not; I should be on a platform with Roy Jones and Floyd Mayweather Jr. I just haven't yet. It's not over."
Holt has always had an abundance of speed and power but, unfortunately, he has never really put it all together to be a consistent performer. Despite all his God-given physical tools, he's been- to steal a phrase from iconic college basketball guru Dick Vitale- a “Dow Joneser.” In other words Holt’s been up and down.
"From my perspective, I think I need to work harder," said Holt, when asked to explain his uneven performances in the ring. "Every time I felt I've worked harder and I come back to the gym after I fight, I felt like I could work harder; I could do more. But, y' know, everyone else just gives spectacular performances; my performances are good or near mediocre. I'm just not doing it and something's wrong. I have a new team, a team that's getting me to throw more punches, more combinations. So hopefully, I'll be able to give those spectacular performances like I want."
What hasn't helped is that Holt's chin has been vulnerable and has let him down in the past. But he is still mystified by his inability to put it all together despite this one flaw. It's one of the reasons why he is stuck on the untelevised portion of this weekend’s undercard in Pontiac.
"Actually, it pissed me off a lot and I don't know why it's like that but I keep it in my mind every time I go to the gym, every time I'm running, where I could push a little more, go a little harder, go a little longer because I don't want those inconsistencies. I want to look back on my career and have fans look back on my career and say, 'Wow, that guy really fought his heart out every fight. He really gave us a show.'"
Losing to Bradley is certainly no shame but what was troubling was his next outing, a sixth-round TKO loss to Kaiser Mabuza in an IBF eliminator. He looked like a fighter who was there only in body. The rest of him simply wasn't there. It was a G-rated performance from the man who's moniker is “Rated R.”
In explaining that dismal outing last February in Atlantic City, Holt says, "I had a lot of problems going into that fight, mainly mental, but I had some other problems throughout the training camp where it was hard for me to breathe through my nostrils. The camp I had, I had great sparring. It was just a bad camp, overall. I couldn't breathe; I had a lot of back problems; my neck would ache. I don't know what it was. Just a lot of things that didn't go right for me heading up to the fight."
Holt says that physical ailments had nagged him long before this particular fight.
"I'm going to take you back," he stated, "in preparation for Demetrius Hopkins…well, actually, Ricardo Torres- put him in there. I had a nagging knuckle injury; it would feel good for a couple days and then a hard, flush jab to someone's nose or whatever and the pain would just come back. And I went through the Hopkins fight and I re-injured it there. Of course, I couldn't take too much time off because I had the two-fight agreement with Showtime and the Bradley fight coming up. So I babied it for a little while; it started feeling good. When I did re-aggravate it, it wasn't as bad as it normally is. So I pushed through the pain and when I caught him with that big left hook (in the first round), the pain from hitting him went through to my elbow all the way up to my shoulders. And that right there tore me up mentally."
Holt understands that being nicked up is part of being a professional athlete. He himself called all his minor defects, "occupational hazards" and over time, he had learned how to deal with them. "I won the Golden Gloves with one hand. I knocked out Ricardo Torres with a fractured hand. So I'm not one of those guys that if something hurts or whatever, I think I need to postpone it or anything like that. I have won big fights and tournaments in my career with those injuries," said Holt, who pointed out that it was adrenaline that got him past Isaac Hlatshwayo, while nursing a bum elbow.
Holt, who hails from Paterson, New Jersey is 29 years old. Theoretically, he should be in the prime of his career but knows that he has now checked into the “Last Chance Motel.” After being released by Top Rank, he inked a deal with GSP in November.
"I know I may be smoking my own pipe but I really believe Kendall Holt can really punch, that Kendall's a very talented fighter and something was radically wrong in his last couple of fights," said Shaw. "And I felt that he was a Jersey resident; he lives close to me. Brandon Jacobs, the running back from the New York Giants, is his manager, so I almost felt an obligation to try to revive him and bring him back. It'll either have been the right thought process or it doesn't work out." Shaw hopes to position Holt into a significant fight by the end of 2011. "My feeling is to give him one or two tune-ups- at least one- and then that's it. We're going right for the titles. I'll put him in with Marcos Maidana or Victor Ortiz or any of these guys."
Holt knows this is his final opportunity to write a happy ending to his story.
"I'm looking at it as that. This is my last chance. I gotta thank Gary, I can't thank him enough for still believing in me, where a lot of people might not believe in me. But he's one of those guys that's always believed in me, even before I signed with Top Rank, so I can't thank him enough. This is another opportunity that I have and I'm going to capitalize on it.
"I will be champion again."
If anyone knows a thing or two about Bradley, it would be Holt, who was in there with him for 36 minutes. So what are his thoughts on the upcoming battle between “Desert Storm” and Alexander?
"Timothy Bradley's one of the most skilled people in his division. And I mean, he proved he can take a punch from a puncher. So I've seen some comments from people thinking Devon Alexander might stop him. I don't see that happening. I actually see Timothy Bradley maybe outclassing him with his skills, speed, his combinations. He's a little strong guy, relentless and he knows what he wants and I don't think nobody is going to be able to derail that. Not Alexander, anyways."
More than anything, he'd like another crack at Bradley.
"Absolutely. Y' know what? What I want in this game, I've won the world championship, which has eluded a lot of fighters. But one thing I want before I retire, one of the things I want is a trilogy. I would love an exhilarating trilogy."
Speaking of rivalries, Holt's series with Ricardo Torres is seriously underrated. I wouldn't mind seeing a rubber match between those two. But whatever happened to Ricardo Torres?...By the time you guys read this, I will (hopefully if Mother Nature doesn't disrupt our plans) be in Pontiac...Perhaps I will make a trip and visit the grave of MC Breed while I'm down here...Tickets for “Featherweight Fury” on March 26th at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, featuring Yuriorkis Gamboa-Jorge Solis and Mikey Garcia-Matt Remillard go on sale on Friday. Tickets are priced at $200, $100 and $50 and you can purchase them by calling 800-736-1420 or log on to www.ticketmaster.com...Told that now perhaps John Murray will be the guy facing Amir Khan on April 16th in Manchester...Hey, did anyone out there think that two Georgia legends, Evander Holyfield and Herschel Walker, would be fighting in the year 2011?...Seriously, based on his whole career, Walker makes a strong case for being the greatest athlete that ever lived....