Sharkie’s Machine: Timothy Bradley Downed Twice, but Wins Unanimous Decision over Kendall Holt
By Frank Gonzalez Jr., exclusive to Doghouse Boxing (April 5, 2009) Photo © Tom Casino /SHOWTIME  
Former WBO Super Lightweight titlist Kendall Holt (25-3, 13 KO’s) was sharp as a razor in the first round against WBC titlist Timothy Bradley (24-0, 11 KO’s) Saturday night in Montreal at the Bell Center , where they squared off in a highly anticipated fight that lived up to expectations.

As the referee gave instructions, Holt started talking smack, reminiscent of how Antonio Tarver taunted Roy Jones Jr. before knocking him out a few years ago. Bradley seemed to take the bait too
once the fight started, going after Holt with what looked like rage. Early on, in a flurry of punches, Bradley landed a nice right. Holt answered that shot with a gorgeous left hook that sent Bradley on his maiden voyage to the canvas. It looked like Holt’s power and crafty counter punching style was going to be too much for the shorter man with the big confidence but shorter reach.

But Bradley wasn’t going out like that, and he came back strong in the second round, trying to find a way to even things up. But Holt wasn’t as anxious as Bradley and he set back and let Bradley come to him, where he peppered him again with clean shots that were set up by his stinging jabs and some potent left hooks. Holt was so effective when he used his jab and fought tall, he made it difficult for Bradley to get inside, where he might score against his tall opponent. I thought Holt won the second round too.

From rounds three through nine, Bradley outworked Holt with constant pressure, sneaky body shots and lots of rough-house tactics that saw nearly seven head butts and numerous low blows from both guys during the course of this fight. The ref didn’t take any points but was constantly breaking them up as Holt would clinch whenever Bradley got close enough to do any damage.

Holt scored the cleaner punches all night but his output dried up when he stopped using his jab, and that stripped him of his best weapon in this fight.

Holt was showing signs of breaking down from all the pressure through eight rounds. But Holt got a second wind and lit up in the ninth round; landing a big uppercut that stunned Bradley. Then, during an exchange at center ring, they banged heads yet again. Both recoiled for a moment, touching their heads and checking their gloves for blood. Amazingly, there was no blood—after numerous head butts throughout the fight. They traded till the bell and I gave Holt that ninth round. But in the tenth, Bradley was back in charge of the action, pressuring Holt backwards and outworking him badly. Whenever Holt threw his jab, he scored and was able to make things happen. But Holt’s forsaken jab combined with Bradley’s non stop aggression cost him this fight

Credit has to go to Bradley, who effectively took away Holt’s jab by forcing him to constantly cover up to block the constant barrage of punches Tim was throwing. Bradley won the tenth and eleventh with more of the same.

In the final round, Holt landed a great counter left hook. Bradley used his jab to get in close and rally. Holt turned Bradley around onto the ropes and landed another big left hook to the face that saw Bradley lose his balance and his glove touched the canvas. The referee, Michael Griffin, rightly ruled it a knockdown. With less than 15 seconds to go, Holt needed at least another knockdown to get a draw, a knockout to win. Instead, he just let the final seconds expire.

This wasn’t a case of either man being at his very best, there were a lot of awkward moments and fouls that both got away with but this was a great battle of contrasting styles. The man with the bigger pop and more accurate delivery system just didn’t do enough to win a decision.

After 12 rounds, the official scores were 114-112 and 115-111 twice, all in favor of Tim Bradley.

Bradley and Holt hugged and talked strategy after the fight. It’s obvious these guys have a lot of respect and admiration for each other. Why not? They’re both good, honest fighters.

Congratulations to Timothy Bradley for never wasting a moment in the ring and executing a game plan that proved the right strategy for beating the taller, bigger punching Holt. Bradley’s speed was helpful but his tremendous conditioning and will to win was real story of this fight.

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This is the kind of stuff great rivalries are made of, so let’s hope we get to see a rematch.

During the post fight interviews, Bradley was overwhelmed with emotion and struggled to contain himself to answer the questions. Bradley said his conditioning helped him greatly and that he gave everything he had. He credited Holt for being a big puncher. When asked about being knocked down for the first time in his career, he said “I got up. I was a little buzzed but I kept on going.” When asked about other fighters, he said, “Now, after seeing me downed twice, everyone’s going to be chasing me because they think I have a glass chin but they don’t understand how hard Kendall Holt hits. But I got off the canvas, listened to my corner and I won the fight.”

During his interview, Holt was asked the most obvious question, how did he feel now? Holt said, “Disappointed.” When asked what he wanted to do next, he quickly said, “Rematch. It was a close fight and I feel that I gave away a few of the middle rounds due to a lack of work.”

Whether they fight a rematch or not, I’d like to see either Holt or Bradley take on the winner of Juan Urango vs. Randall Bailey.

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