Ardreal Holmes eluded Ismael Villarreal power for 10 rounds Friday night and outboxed him to remain undefeated.
Holmes, a 6-foot-2 southpaw, controlled distance, tied up the hard-hitting Villarreal when necessary, worked effectively off his jab and out-pointed him on two scorecards. The poised Holmes won on the scorecards of judges Nick Berens (96-94) and David Sutherland (97-93) to win a split decision in the unremarkable main event of a “ShoBox: The New Generation” telecast from Stormont Vail Event Center in Topeka, Kansas.
Judge Karen Holderfield scored Villarreal a 96-94 winner.
The 28-year-old Holmes, of Flint, Michigan, nevertheless improved to 13-0 (5 KOs). The 25-year-old Villarreal, of the Bronx, New York, lost for the first time as a pro (12-1, 8 KOs).
Villarreal upset previously unbeaten LeShawn Rodriguez by sixth-round knockout in his prior appearance. He couldn’t catch the skillful Holmes with the type of power punches that dropped Rodriguez (13-1, 10 KOs) in the second and sixth rounds of their July 30 bout at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Seemingly behind on the scorecards, Villarreal let his hands go and pressed for a knockout early in the 10th and final round. He backed Holmes into the ropes in the opening minute of the 10th round, but Holmes held him to stop any momentum Villarreal tried to build.
Holmes established distance later in the 10th round and landed several jabs.
A comfortable Holmes remained in an offensive rhythm during a ninth round in which he landed his jab and kept Villarreal at a safe distance. Villarreal landed a right hand that caused Holmes to clinch with about 15 seconds on the clock in the ninth round.
Holmes was the aggressor again in the eighth round. He landed several hard rights to Villarreal’s body and kept Villarreal at a distance with his jab.
Holmes pressed the action in the seventh round, when he worked well off his jab, went to Villarreal’s body and slipped his opponent’s power punches.
Villarreal’s right hand landed with 20 seconds to go in the sixth round. Another right by Villarreal connected a few seconds before the sixth round concluded.
Holmes mostly eluded Villarreal’s punches during the fifth round, but Villarreal’s right hook caught him and made Holmes hold with just under a minute remaining in it.
A right hand by Villarreal landed as Holmes moved backward with about 1:10 to go in the fourth round. Villarreal pressed forward and connected with a right hand approximately 45 seconds into the fourth round.
Holmes landed a straight left about 20 seconds into the fourth round.
Holmes’ jab was effective during the third round, when Villarreal again had trouble getting inside on him. Villarreal did, however, land a right hand that made Holmes hold him with 1:10 to go in the third round.
Villarreal tried to force his way inside during the second round, but Holmes tied him up and didn’t allow Villarreal to get his punches off.
Holmes’ left uppercut connected with about 30 seconds to go in the opening round. Holmes pumped his jab and kept Villarreal at a comfortable distance during the first round.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.