Setback Not The End Of The Road For Kendall Holt
By Brandon Estrict for (Mar 10, 2009) Photo © Tom Casino/SHOWTIME  
‘…there will be(there will be)/ ups and downs, smiles and frowns...’

If you’ve followed the career of Kendall “Rated R” Holt, these are the lyrics, of rapper/actor Snoop Dogg’s 2005 hit Ups and Downs, that would likely loop over and over again in the background. The specific line of the song quoted can serve not only as a microcosm to the talented Holt’s professional journey, but also as the backdrop to his fight with WBC Super Lightweight Champion, Timothy Bradley, this past Saturday on Showtime Championship Boxing.

You see, Round 1 produced the dream scenario, the ‘up.’ Both men fought evenly until about the 2 minute mark had elapsed, when the Paterson, NJ native, Holt, started a four-punch combination with a counter right-uppercut which lifted Bradley’s head up into a glancing left-hook, followed by a right-cross and finally capped off by a lightening quick, flush left-hook that produced a monstrous knockdown, one that 8 out of 10 men probably wouldn’t have gotten up from. Timothy Bradley bounced right back to his feet before discovering just how unsteady his legs were and wisely went right back to the canvas to take an 8 count from referee Michael Griffin. It is absolutely to Bradley’s credit that he was able to finish the round, but the knockdown was as devastating a knockdown as you will see not resulting in a stoppage. Holt was surely on his way to unifying the WBO and WBC straps and to being the next big thing in a talent-rich 140 lb. division.

Only, the seemingly inevitable just didn’t materialize. Bradley, 24-0 (11), through sheer grit and hustle, went on to win the next several rounds. He simply rough-housed and outworked a seemingly complacent Holt and, arguably, had complete control of the fight by the time it reached the Championship Rounds. We’ll refer to this period of time as the down.

For as talented as Kendall Holt is, not being busy enough is a problem that has plagued him throughout his career, most recently in early 2008 when instead of blowing tough journeyman/fringe contender, Ben Tackie away, he allowed the bout to be competitive on the cards, pulling off a Majority Decision in a bout he could just as easily have won twelve rounds to zero, all due respect to Tackie. It’s simple enough. Holt possesses world class speed, deceiving hit-power that is far beyond what his 13 knockouts in 25 victories suggests, an adequate defense, and top-notch boxing ability. When he combines all of these assets, along with his precise counter-punching, and maintains a steady workrate, he shows flashes of being a brilliant fighter, potentially a top pound-for-pound fighter in the world.

These things represent the ups, and the downs, just as his 12th round knockdown of Bradley again exhibits. And yet another down when the close, but unanimous, decision was announced in Bradley’s favor. Holt had lost the Championship it had taken him 8 years to earn, and suffered the 3rd loss of his professional career, and his second loss in the past 18 months.

While this is, no doubt, a setback for Holt, it is far from cross-roads situation. With 8 years in, he is still a younger veteran fighter and has an opportunity to live up to the lofty expectations placed on him all those years back as an up-and-coming championship prospect.

That’s because in the same Junior Welterweight division that he fights in, stand names like Manny Pacquiao, Ricky Hatton, Nate Campbell, possibly Zab Judah and Juan Manuel Marquez, not too mention a trilogy bout with Ricardo Torres, who stopped Holt controversially amidst hostile environment in Colombia back in 2007(Holt returned the favor last year, getting off the canvas twice to stop Torres in the very first round of their rematch). At the end of the day, Holt is still a top 5 jr. welterweight and this loss has not hurt his standing all too much. The possibilities as pertaining to a big name opponent are endless in one of boxing’s hottest divisions and Holt, who can compete with any top fighter in the sport(within reasonable weight class), plans to take full advantage of the position he’s in.

“I’m getting back to work in June,” said Holt in response to his future plans.

One thing is for certain. Holt has been down before, and has always displayed the fortitude in times of need and adversity whether in or out of the ring. So if this is ‘down,’ there is only one logical place for Kendall Holt to go from here.

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