By Keith Idec
Kendall Holt has decided to move up to welterweight following his split-decision defeat to unbeaten Danny Garcia in a 12-round junior welterweight fight Saturday night in Los Angeles.
The 30-year-old Holt, of Paterson, N.J., has been a junior welterweight throughout his 10-year pro career, but he has had difficulty getting down to the division’s limit of 140 pounds for important fights the past 2½ years. The former WBO junior welterweight champion planned to fight at 140 pounds only a couple more times before Garcia beat him, but losing their WBC championship elimination match made Holt make the move now.
“Making 140,” Holt said, “takes too much out of me.”
Holt (27-5, 15 KOs) expects to make his welterweight debut by the end of the year.
Giants running back Brandon Jacobs, Holt’s manager, has encouraged Holt to move up to welterweight for a couple years, but Holt ultimately felt he was better suited to remain in the junior welterweight division. The 5-foot-9 Holt is considered a powerful puncher at 140 pounds, but he walks around at about 150 pounds when he’s not training and could face significant weight disadvantages on fight nights against full-fledged welterweights.
Holt weighed 147 pounds on HBO’s unofficial scale Saturday night, three less than Garcia.
Regardless, he has lost each of the last three fights for which he has had to weigh in at 140 pounds or less — to Garcia (22-0, 14 KOs), South Africa’s Kaizer Mabuza (23-8-3, 14 KOs) and Timothy Bradley (27-0, 11 KOs, 1 NC). The losses to Garcia and Mabuza came in elimination matches that would’ve secured 140-pound title shots if Holt won, while the Bradley defeat came in a junior welterweight championship unification fight in April 2009.
Garcia, 23, beat him by split decision because one judge, Wayne Hedgpeth, scored Holt a 115-113 winner of a fight he clearly did not win at Staples Center. The other two judges, Patricia Morse Jarman and Fritz Werner, scored the fight 117-111 for Garcia, who earned the No. 1 spot in the WBC’s 140-pound rankings and the No. 2 position in the IBF junior welterweight ratings.
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com.