By Keith Idec
Danny Garcia isn’t overly impressed by Kendall Holt’s two knockout wins this year.
Holt bounced back from a surprising February 2010 loss to South African underdog Kaizer Mabuza by scoring spectacular one-punch technical knockouts against journeyman Lenin Arroyo and former IBF lightweight champ Julio Diaz. The hard-hitting Holt’s left hook knocked out Arroyo (20-15-1, 4 KOs) in the first round Jan. 29 in Pontiac, Mich., and dealt Diaz (38-7, 27 KOs) a career-crushing loss in the third round May 13 in Santa Ynez, Calif.
Philadelphia’s Garcia, 23, doesn’t necessarily think those wins are evidence that Holt, 30, is back to the level he was when he owned the WBO junior welterweight title.
“He did what he was supposed to do against his last two opponents,” said Garcia, who also has expressed respect for Holt in advance of their intriguing 12-round junior welterweight fight Saturday night in Los Angeles. “Those guys have no skills like me, those guys don’t have power like me, they’re not big like me and they’re not smart like me. So if you go off those fights, it just makes him look like he’s ready. But I’m ready, man, and that ain’t going to happen, what he did to those guys, I’m telling you.”
Garcia and his handlers realize, however, that boxing Holt (27-4, 15 KOs) represents a step up in class for this highly regarded prospect.
Garcia (21-0, 14 KOs) comfortably out-pointed former lightweight champ Nate Campbell (34-9-1, 25 KOs, 1 NC) in his last fight, a 10-round bout April 9 in Las Vegas, but Campbell is 39. He also knocked out Mike Arnaoutis in the fourth round a year ago in Philadelphia, but that was the fifth loss in six fights for Arnaoutis (22-7-2, 10 KOs), whom Holt dominated during their 12-round WBO elimination match 4½ years ago in Atlantic City.
If Garcia beats Holt, of Paterson, N.J., in what could emerge as the most entertaining encounter on HBO Pay-Per-View’s four-fight broadcast from Staples Center, Garcia would take a significant step toward a world title shot in 2012. Their 12-round fight will be contested for the NABO junior welterweight title, and is an eliminator for the No. 1 spot in the WBC’s 140-pound rankings and the No. 2 position in the IBF’s junior welterweight ratings.
“I think this fight is really going to put my stamp on this division,” said Garcia, who’s promoted by Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions. “I think all the boxing writers and people who are on the block and all that, they’re going to take me a lot more seriously now. They’re going to be like, ‘Oh, this young kid just beat Kendall Holt. He’s really the real deal.’ ”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com.