Boxing in Vegas suits Holt

Jul 1, 2008 7:01 PM

Pulling No Punches by Michael Katz | The late great trainer, Freddie Brown, often said, "When youíre out of town, youíre out of town."

To Kendall Holt, in Barranquilla, Colombia, last September to challenge Ricardo Torres for a 140-pound title, it must have seemed he was out of this world.

A beer can, reportedly full, hit him in the head as he waited in a neutral corner after scoring a sixth-round knockdown. Someone from the other corner reached into the ring and pulled his leg just before the referee ruled Holt couldnít go on, although the challenger from Paterson, New Jersey, was in the process of throwing a punch.

The ref, Gino Rodriguez of Chicago, meanwhile was ignoring the fact that both fighters and he himself were in danger from bottles, cans and other debris thrown in the ring by Torresís hometown fans.

Letís put it this way: Rodriguez was having a bad night, especially vis-a-vis Holt. In the boutís first half-minute, the challenger landed a short right hand and Torres needed to touch the canvas with his right glove to stop from falling. The ref said it was a "slip," not a knockdown.

After the sixth-round knockdown, Torres was given extra time before Rodriguez allowed the seventh to start. He said there was too much water in the corner and it needed wiping.

However, with liquids and solids raining in the ring in the 11th round, one of the WBOís favorite refs just ignored the slippery canvas. With seconds to go and Holt about to get a minuteís rest before the final round of a fight he was leading, Rodriguez abruptly stopped the bout.

Torres was still the WBOgus champion, but that doesnít mean Torres he isnít a good bet in next Saturdayís rematch (finally) at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas that will be aired on Showtime.

Holt may be the kid you want to win, an exemplary character who survived an abusive father and a drug-dealing mother who, when he was 7, was convicted of first-degree manslaughter. He was an 8-5 favorite on most websites in Colombia and has good arguments that he coulda, shoulda knocked Torres out there.

However, he does not seem worthy of being a 3-1 or 7-2 favorite, even though heís a better overall boxer than Torres. The Colombian is 32-1 with 28 knockouts and the lone loss was to Miguel Cotto. Holt had Cotto down in the second round and wobbled several times before succumbing to todayís top-ranked welterweight.

Moreover, though Torres was behind Holt and had been given some breaks, he did turn the fightís fortunes in the 10th round when a left hook rocked Holt. None of the extracurricular activities, including the lone judge who had him ahead coming from Colombia, could be blamed on Torres. He is a hard-punching warrior and probably worth the 5-2 buyback rate.

But I canít bet on him. Iíll be rooting for Holt.

There was supposed to be another good betting fight next Saturday, this one in Germany where Ruslan Chagaev was to defend whichever heavyweight title he has against the giant he dethroned, 7-foot Nikolai Valuev.

However, for the third straight time (second against Valuev) Chagaev has had to pull out of a fight. It may be that an interim title bout will be arranged with John Ruiz.

The fights will go on in Germany with the semifinal, a rematch between Felix Sturm (a 7-2 favorite) against American Randy Griffin, with whom he had a draw last year.