by Cliff Rold
When two veterans with established world class chops square off, and there is reason to believe they are well matched, it’s a good thing. When both fighters are in a position where winning is a desperate need, and not just a healthy want, it’s a better thing.
Lamont Peterson, the reigning IBF titlist at 140 lbs., needs to win to keep his belt. He needs to win, even more, to prove his validity. His positive PED test last year didn’t just cancel a rematch with Amir Khan. It brought scrutiny on an already controversial first outcome with Khan and on his place as a champion. In Holt, he has a former champion who can still go but one he is supposed to be able to defeat. He also has home field advantage at what should be a raucous Armory in Washington, DC.
Holt, being in the position of ‘supposed to lose,’ can’t afford to. With losses in three of his last six, this might not be his last chance. It’s close and may well be his last real one before he is forced to be the ‘former world champion’ others look to add to their record on the way up.
Let’s go to the report cards.
Title: IBF Light Welterweight (2011-Present, 1st Attempted Defense)
Previous Titles: WBA Light Welterweight (2011-12)
Weight: 139.4 lbs.
Average Weight – Last Five Fights: 140.4 lbs.
Hails from: Washington, DC
Record: 30-1-1, 15 KO
Ranking: #3 (ESPN); Unrated (BoxingScene, Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, Ring, Boxrec, SecondOut)
Record in Major Title Fights: 1-1 (2-1 including interim title fights)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: 3 (Timothy Bradley L12; Victor Ortiz D10; Amir Khan SD12)
Previous Titles: WBO Light Welterweight (2008-09, 1 Defense)
Weight: 140 lbs.
Average Weight – Last Five Fights: 141.7 lbs.
Hails from: Paterson, New Jersey
Record: 28-5, 16 KO, 3 KOBY
BoxingScene Rank: #6 (BoxRec); #10 (BoxingScene); Unrated (Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, Ring, ESPN, SecondOut)
Record in Major Title Fights: 2-2, 1 KO, 1 KOBY
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: 6 (David Diaz TKO8; Issac Hlatshawyo UD12; Ricardo Torres TKO by 11, KO1; Timothy Bradley L12; Julio Diaz TKO3; Danny Garcia L12)
Pre-Fight: Speed – Peterson B; Holt B+
Pre-Fight: Power – Peterson B; Holt B
Pre-Fight: Defense – Peterson B; Holt B
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Peterson B+; Holt B
Holt has long been a fighter whose package of talents doesn’t always marry to his results in the ring. He has world-class speed. He has outstanding pop in single shots (he dropped Bradley two more times than Manny Pacquiao). What he’s lacked is the ability to land big shots enough to make single “A” shots into consistent “A” power.
Against Peterson, that could hurt. Peterson has shown in the past to be vulnerable early in fights. He gets stronger, and better, as a fight goes on. Holt not being a finisher puts him in a rough spot. He should still be faster. He might land something big in the first three or four rounds. When Peterson is still standing, what then?
Peterson is a solid all-around fighter who knows how to employ smart pressure. He knows he can’t rely on the knockout so he works. He rocked Khan pretty good in spots and Holt hasn’t always had a reliable chin. If Peterson is at something close to his normal form, can he take over a fight that goes rounds?
And if he does, what are the stakes? A Khan rematch may be lost for now to the bigger business of a possible Khan-Danny Garcia rematch later this year. However, if and when Adrien Broner moves up to 140, he’s going to come looking for a title.
Would anyone be better positioned for that fight than the winner of this one?
The thinking here is Peterson can take that pole position. Peterson doesn’t do much spectacularly, but he’s sticks around and doesn’t give up. He may struggle early with the explosiveness of Holt, but Holt has never proven able to sustain a performance in a long, difficult fight against a world-class foe. None of that means it won’t be fun. Both men can be hit and this could play out as an exciting affair. At the end, it will be just exciting enough to get Peterson back into bigger conversations in the loaded 140 lb. division. The call is Peterson by decision.
Report Card Picks 2013: 4-1
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene and a member of the Transanational Boxing Ratings Board, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at email@example.com