The inclination is always to the boxer over the puncher.
Yes, it’s dangerous, kind of like watching a tight-rope walker at the circus. One slip, a bob of the head in the wrong direction and it’s oops. On the other hand, how many times have you been to the circus where the tight-rope walker falls?
In this week’s edition of the old boxer-puncher struggle, the odds are on the boxer, Timothy Bradley of Palm Springs, California to beat the puncher, Kendall Holt of Paterson, New Jersey, in a junior welterweight title unifier.
Okay, never mind that the real 140-pound champion is Ricky Hatton and he’s defending it May 2 against Manny Pacquiao. This is a neat little fight that will be televised by Showtime from Montreal. Bradley is something like an 8-5 favorite. The buyback rate on the dangerous Holt is in the 6-5 to 7-5 range.
Holt has beaten better – ex-lightweight titleholder David Diaz, 25-0 Isaac Hlatshwayo, Mike Arnaoutis, Demetrius Hopkins and, in one of the most amazing fights of 2008, Ricardo Torres, to win the WBO junior welter title.
The Torres bout was the one where the Colombian, who had controversially beaten Holt the year before, came out fast and quickly bounced the Jersey fighter twice on the canvas. Holt got up, and with the help of a hellacious if accidental head butt, managed to drop Torres for the count.
All this in 61 seconds.
Bradley’s resume isn’t so spectacular, but the Navy vet (nicknamed Desert Storm) does have a high quality victory, a 12-round split decision over Junior Witter last May in Nottingham, which explains the "split." Bradley thoroughly dominated Witter to win the WBC belt and has since defended it once, cruising to a 12-round nod over Edner Cherry.
Bradley has a huge edge in image-making. His main publicist is the great Fred Sternburg, which is why Bradley is quoted as saying things like "Bernie Madoff has a better chance of winning the Nobel Prize in economics than Kendall Holt has against me."
Funny, if not exactly accurate.
Holt has a three-inch height advantage and the punching power to always have a chance. Bradley, at 25, came out of nowhere to upset Witter in his first trip outside California, but looks to be on the rise. It won’t be easy, but I think he can close enough and often to win here.
On the undercard (no odds posted), it would seem Librado Andrade would make his return to Montreal a success against former European champ Vitali Tsypko in a supermiddleweight eliminator.
Last October, Andrade should have gotten a last-second KO of Lucian Bute in a title bout, but when the ref allowed the hometown hero to hear the final bell without counting him out, the decision was one-sided. Andrade is easy to outbox, so don’t be laying too many odds in a friendly bet with your mom.
Austin less than Golden
There’s a big pay-per-view card in Austin, but injuries, alas, have made it kind of dull. It wasn’t that good to start with. It was supposed to be Golden Boy’s lightweight celebration, but injuries to Joel Casamayor and Jorge Solis have diminished it considerably.
The main event remains intact – a bout for the vacant WBC belt between 130-pound title-holder Edwin Valero with a record of 24 knockouts in 24 fights and ancient Antonio Pitalua of Mexico. At 39, Pitalua offers little against the 27-year-old Venezuelan.
Valero, whose old head injury (not from boxing) had him banned in the USA, has been licensed by the state of Texas (you know, the one that leads the country in death sentences). He made his rep sparring in L.A. and began his career with 18 straight first-round KO’s. I’ve never seen him, but doubt I’ll pay for this show.
And on the rebound
Three former title-holders are in the other TV bouts. Jesus Chavez, whose fists were the last to brutalize the late Leavander Johnson, and Carlos Hernandez, were tough junior lightweight champions both are making comebacks.
Chavez, 36, is in against Michael Katsidis, who was undefeated until last year when he was stopped by Casamayor and outpointed by Juan Diaz. Katsidis should be a bit much for the smaller Chavez.
Hernandez, 38, the first to knock down Floyd Mayweather Jr., in a 2001 junior lightweight title bout, was to have fought Solis. He gets no big break in Vicente Escobedo, a tall 27-year-old fringe contender with a 19-1 record.
Casamayor’s replacement, Rolando Reyes, is a decent journeyman who should give Julio Diaz a decent fight. But so what?