By Keith Idec
Kendall Holt has lost the last two elimination matches that could’ve earned the former WBO junior welterweight champion another title shot.
He knows he can’t allow it to happen a third time June 22. Holt has signed a contract to fight Josesito Lopez that night in a 12-round fight for the No. 2 spot in the IBF’s junior welterweight rankings.
ESPN2 will televise the Holt-Lopez bout as a “Friday Night Fights” main event. The site for the fight has been secured; the Soboba Casino in San Jacinto, California, according to Lopez's promoter Dan Goossen.
“It’s an extremely important fight,” Holt, 30, said. “It’s as important as a championship fight, because without a great showing and an impressive win, I don’t get to the next championship fight.”
Holt (28-5, 16 KOs) — a Paterson, N.J., native — won his last fight in impressive fashion March 16 in Cabazon, Calif.
He dropped Baltimore’s Tim Coleman (19-3-1, 5 KOs) four times before Coleman’s corner man threw in the towel during the second round of their scheduled 10-round welterweight bout, also broadcast by ESPN2. That easy victory enabled Holt to re-establish himself after a losing a 12-round split decision to since-crowned WBC 140-pound champion Danny Garcia (23-0, 14 KOs) in a WBC elimination match Oct. 15 at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
The 27-year-old Lopez (29-4, 17 KOs), of Riverside, Calif., lost his most recent fight, a 10-rounder, by split decision to unbeaten prospect Jessie Vargas (19-0, 9 KOs) on Sept. 17 in Las Vegas.
“I know he’s going to put pressure on me, try to go after my body and slow me down,” Holt said. “Guys who put pressure on me force me to fight. That’s what he’s getting paid for. That’s what I’m getting paid for. Let’s fight. I don’t like chasing people, so let’s fight.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com.