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Kendall Holt: Rated R


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Yes, that nickname really suited him well. Kendall Holt's career and life have both been "R rated", controversial, starting from the fight which won him his only world title. Holt was a dangerous puncher, but wasn't always the best finisher or the most accurate puncher, which led to him scoring less knockouts than he could have. His ko percentage is at 47% as estimated by Boxrec, with 16 of his 28 wins coming by ko. Pretty much like another famous Paterson NJ-fighter, Rubin Carter, Holt was very brash and confident and also later got mixed up in criminal things, yet not as serious as Carter. He lost his title in a worthy manner, to the guy who back then probably was among the top 3 fighters at 140-Timothy Bradley. He even managed to put Bradley down twice, which was the first time Bradley experienced this. He would then have a prolonged break from boxing, thanks to these legal troubles, and when he came back, he just wasn't the same man anymore-but he still managed to score one more memorable ko against Julio Diaz. Here is the story of Paterson's last world champion (to my knowledge)-Kendall Holt.


Kendall Holt was born 14 June 1981 in Paterson, New Jersey. Even in his childhood, his life was troubled, as his mother got convicted for killing a homeless man and he had to be raised by his father. However, he was abused by him and soon had to be placed in foster care. He grew up surrounded by violence, so-fighting and boxing was a natural path for him to take. He became a pro boxer in 2001, standing 5'9 (175 cm) and with a big reach of 74" (188 cm). He won his first 15 fights there, mostly fighting at 140 but occasionally also 147, before being upset for the first time by Thomas Davis, an underdog with an 8-1 record. That happened 18 June 2004 in Chicago and Holt came out aggressively but was surprised and dropped by a lead right. After rising, he was again down from another right hand and was counted out, just a second before the end of round 1. That fight was at 147 and Holt decided it would be best to focus on 140 from then on. He actually never had a single fight above 140 after that. His first success came on 4 February 2005 when he fought the future WBC lightweight champ David Diaz, who came in at 26-0. Holt dropped Diaz in the first and was himself down in the seventh, before stopping Diaz on the ropes in the eight with a long barrage. He was ahead on all scorecards at the time. In his next fight 3 months later, he won the WBO Inter-Continental title by SD against Jaime Rangel. On 3 November '06, he beat Isaac Hlatshwayo to win the WBO NABO title as well, by UD. He also scored 3 knockdowns there. On 1 September '07, he was suddenly given a fight for the WBO title, now held by Ricardo Torres, a hard-hitting Colombian who had dropped Miguel Cotto and had a hard war with him. Holt had to come to Torres' hometown Barranquilla in Colombia but did well in the fight, knocking Torres down in round six and being in control for some time after that. Things changed in the tenth, when Torres turned the fight around and then in the eleventh he stopped Holt with a barrage against the ropes, much to Holt's protests. Holt's manager filed a protest because the fans were throwing objects in the ring during the eleventh. It didn't help that much, but Holt soon got another chance.


After beating Ben Tackie by MD10 in February 2008, he got the rematch against Torres on 5 July, this time in Planet Hollywood, Vegas. This time, the fight would be very short and VERY eventful. After only 13 seconds, Holt was dropped by a right hand from Torres. He got up but was put down again only seconds later. It seemed like an even more devastating loss was in the cards for Kendall, but he weathered the storm and made the count. As he got up and rushed at Torres, he landed a left hook to the body which made Torres double over and collide heads with him. As he staggered backwards into the ropes, Holt followed him and landed a right hand that put Torres out of the game, after only 61 seconds! Could've hardly been a more exciting and somewhat controversial way of becoming a champion, but he was the champion now. However, his first defense as the WBO-champion was a rather frustrating affair, as he took on the undefeated nephew of Bernard Hopkins-Demetrius Hopkins, at Boardwalk Hall in AC, 13 December same year. Hopkins kept running from Holt and made the fight close with his jabbing and elusiveness. Holt landed some body punches in flurries and that proved to be the difference in the end, as he won by a split decision. He then signed for his biggest fight ever-against Timothy Bradley, who held the WBC title. The fight happened on 4 April '09 at Bell Centre in Montreal, for some reason. Bradley was 23-0 coming in and had taken the title from Junior Witter. Holt opened best in round 1 and sent Bradley down with a perfectly timed counter left hook to the head. Bradley seemed to go down hard, but soon recovered, going down to one knee to get some more time to recover. It was the first time anybody had knocked him down and suddenly, the underdog from Paterson looked like he might win this. However, Bradley had a higher work rate and pressed the fight, while Holt fought mostly as a counterpuncher, landing some clean shots but not doing enough. Despite scoring another knockdown in round 12 with a counter right uppercut, he was unable to do enough to impress the judges and he ended up losing by the scores of 114-112 and 115-111 twice. Only 20 days later, Holt ran into trouble as he was arrested after pleading guilty to a charge of money laundering in his home state of New Jersey. Even worse, it was his manager, Henry Cortes, that made those drug deals and he was of course arrested as well. All Holt did was deliver a few bags of heroin from 2007 to 2008. He was allowed to enter pre-trial intervention program and the charges against him were dropped after he completed it.


All this kept him away from the ring for almost a year, and when he finally returned, on 27 February 2010-he was not himself. He took on the South African underdog Kaizer Mabuza in an IBF-eliminator that night in Atlantic City and got a beating for 6 rounds before quitting in his corner. He came back in January next year and stopped Lenin Arroyo in 1 round, with a single left hook. That showed his form had improved. Also in his next fight, which was against former two-time world champion Julio "Kidd" Diaz, Holt was impressive. The fight was in Santa Ynez, California, Diaz's home state, on 13 May, but it didn't help Diaz as Holt found an opening in round 3 with a left hook to the body and then a devastating left hook to the chin which put Diaz out of the game. He now seemed back into contention and got a chance to win the vacant WBO Inter-Continental title, which he previously held. His opponent was Danny Garcia, a hot new name in the division and the fight happened on 15 October, 5 months after Diaz fight. Holt ended up losing by a split decision to undefeated Garcia. He bounced back in March next year with another quick stoppage of Tim Coleman, a TKO2, before fighting Lamont Peterson, the IBF champ, for his title almost a year later, 22 February '13. Holt looked good in the first 3 rounds as Peterson had a slow and sluggish start, but was then put down in round 4 with a right to the side of the head. From there on, Peterson was in charge and he again sent him down with a combination in round 6, before stopping him on his feet in round 8. He only made 12 k for this fight and had to go home the loser. This bitter fight proved to be the final one for Holt and he retired at the age of 32 and with a record of 28 wins and 6 losses, 16 by ko, as mentioned.


Holt had some serious tools and offensive abilities, but it seems he was unwilling to work harder on his defense, which is why he suffered as many losses as he did. His problems with the law also took a toll on his career, as well as discipline problems. He had several different trainers, including Buddy McGirt, and four different managers, so he was likely not easy to work with. But, for what it's worth-he was in some very entertaining fights and scored a few really great knockouts. Here's to RATED R-KENDALL HOLT!


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