Ardreal Holmes made up for some lost time Friday night.
The undefeated junior middleweight prospect ended a 25-month layoff in impressive fashion by out-boxing hard-hitting Vernon Brown during their 10-round, 157-pound fight in Deadwood, South Dakota. The 6-foot-2, left-handed Holmes used his jab well at times and out-worked Brown, a shorter southpaw who tried to overwhelm Holmes with brute strength, from the inside in other sequences.
Judges Norm Hamling Jr. (97-93), John Mariano (96-94) and Ludy Webster (98-92) all favored Holmes, whose intelligence and skill separated him from a powerful opponent who often went after his body in the main event of a “ShoBox: The New Generation” tripleheader Showtime aired from Deadwood Mountain Grand Hotel.
The 27-year-old Holmes, of Flint, Michigan, improved to 12-0 (5 KOs) and got in 10 much-needed rounds during his first fight since November 2019. Holmes also boxed beyond the eighth round for the first time in his five-year pro career.
Chicago’s Brown slipped to 13-2-1 (9 KOs).
Holmes landed two hard rights to the body with just over two minutes remaining in the 10th and final round. Brown and Holmes traded head and body shots from the inside with just over a minute to go in the 10th round.
A right-left combination by Holmes backed Brown into the ropes 40 seconds into the ninth round. A left uppercut by Holmes landed with just under a minute on the clock in the ninth round.
Holmes hit Brown with a right to the body when there were 20 seconds on the clock in the ninth round.
Holmes’ left hand landed with just under a minute to go in the eighth round, but Brown took it well. A precise Holmes blasted Brown with a straight left hand and then a flush right hook in the final 10 seconds of the eighth round.
Holmes belted Brown with a right to his body as Brown missed wildly with a right hand with just over 1:40 to go in the seventh round. Brown knocked Holmes off balance with a left hand that connected with about 1:15 remaining in the seventh round.
Holmes’ straight left hand connected with 30 seconds on the clock in the seventh round.
A straight left by Brown connected a little less than 30 seconds into the sixth round. Brown backed Holmes into the ropes again early in the sixth round and went after his body.
Holmes landed a left uppercut with just under a minute to go in the sixth round. He also got Brown’s attention with a right hook to the body that landed with 35 seconds on the clock in the sixth round.
Brown landed the harder shots during the fifth round. They fought from the inside almost exclusively in those three minutes, when Brown attacked Holmes’ body.
Holmes was the aggressor for much of the fourth round, when they reversed roles and Holmes backed Brown into the ropes at times. Brown landed a left uppercut with about 20 seconds to go in the fourth round, but Holmes was the more effective fighter for most of that round.
Brown backed Holmes into the ropes early in the third round and hammered away at his body. Holmes clipped Brown with a left uppercut when there was just under 1:50 on the clock in the third round.
A straight left hand by Holmes connected with just under a minute to go in the third round. Holmes also rocked Brown with a right hook toward the end of the third round.
Brown hit Holmes after the bell sounded to end the third round and immediately attempted to apologize.
Two right hands by Holmes landed with just under two minutes remaining in the second round. Brown smiled and pressed forward, but he had trouble penetrating Holmes’ jab and landing flush punches on his taller, rangier opponent.
Brown went after Holmes’ body during the second round, but Holmes fired back with body blows of his own.
Brown blasted Holmes with a left hand barely a minute into the first round. Holmes landed two left hands in a sequence that began about 15 seconds later.
Holmes controlled the distance, worked off his jab, made Brown miss and countered him later in the first round.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.