By Keith Idec
Kendall Holt hasn’t been this excited about a fight, not even one of his own, in a long time.
The former WBO junior welterweight champion cannot wait for Friday night, when he is 100 percent certain Glen Tapia will take the significant step in his pro boxing career that so many of Tapia’s contemporaries from New Jersey have failed to take. Transforming fighters from prospects to legitimate contenders is very difficult; so tough that no boxer from New Jersey has done it since Paterson’s Holt stopped then-undefeated David Diaz in February 2005.
Three years later, Holt won a world title. He expects Passaic’s Tapia (18-0, 10 KOs) to travel a comparable path with a win over another unbeaten, hungry prospect, El Paso’s Abie Han (19-0, 12 KOs), in their 10-round junior middleweight match in Las Vegas (10 p.m., ESPN2).
"Glen has all the tools to win this fight, to win any of his fights," Holt, 32, said Tuesday after a workout at Ike’s & Randy’s Boxing Gym. "Glen is a very, very good fighter. He has come a long way.
"I think out of any fighter to come out of New Jersey that I’ve seen, Glen has improved the most, myself included. Glen has shown the most promise and the most improvement. So I look at Glen as the future of that division. This is his first opportunity to prove that."
According to Holt (28-6, 16 KOs), uncommon determination is what separates Tapia, 23, from recent New Jersey prospects who haven’t become contenders. Holt’s respect for Tapia developed during many sparring sessions at the Passaic PAL, and all their conversations about boxing and life.
Along the way, Tapia made his pro debut on the undercard of one of Holt’s title defenses 4 1/2 years ago in Atlantic City. He’ll fight for the regional NABO championship and a spot in the WBO’s 154-pound rankings Friday night.
"I’m so excited because I believe in Glen," Holt said. "I talk about him, but he hasn’t had that national exposure yet. So when I talk about him, basically the reaction is, ‘All right, we’ll see.’ He hasn’t grown on them yet.
"But I’ve been in the gym with him for years and years and years, so I know. When he goes out there and does his thing, and the world catches on, that’ll be a great feeling for me."