Ardreal Holmes wasn’t pleased with his performance in his last fight.

The 6-foot-2 southpaw from Flint, Michigan is sure he would’ve boxed better against Chicago’s Vernon Brown had he been more active prior to their “ShoBox: The New Generation” main event last March 11. Holmes remained undefeated by out-pointing Brown unanimously in their 10-round bout, but that marked Holmes’ first fight in almost 28 months.

“I could have done everything better against Vernon,” Holmes said, “but when you’ve been out so long, you have to catch up on the timing and rhythm. But I put that win behind me and I’m trying to do better this time.”

Holmes (12-0, 5 KOs) is in a similar predicament entering another “ShoBox” main event against Ismael Villarreal on Friday night. The 28-year-old junior middleweight prospect hasn’t fought since he beat Brown (13-2-1, 9 KOs) on all three scorecards 11 months ago at Deadwood Mountain Grand Hotel in Deadwood, South Dakota.

“I don’t get frustrated with the layoffs,” Holmes said, “because I just look at my son and I want a better future for him and that’s how I get through it every time. I just have to keep fighting and get through everyone to get where I need to go.”

A victory over Villarreal in a 10-round, 154-pound main event Showtime will televise from Stormont Vail Event Center in Topeka, Kansas would move Holmes closer to where he believes he belongs.

Villarreal (12-0, 8 KOs) is a slight favorite versus Holmes in part because the Bronx, New York native knocked out previously unbeaten LeShawn Rodriguez in the sixth round of his most recent bout. Rodriguez (13-1, 10 KOs) was a 6-1 favorite, yet Villarreal dropped him once in the second round and again in the sixth round to earn a career-changing win on the Danny Garcia-Jose Benavidez Jr. undercard July 30 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

“My opponent looks strong, looks like he comes to fight,” Holmes said. “They all have to come to me. This is a high-stakes match, and then the next one is going to be the toughest of my career. All these fights are going to be the toughest I’ve faced, so I take everyone seriously.”

If he can overcome Villarreal in this challenging fight, Holmes hopes he can be as active as he was in 2018 and 2019, when he fought three times apiece.

“Two years from now I see myself in the top 10 and gunning for one of those titles,” said Holmes, who works full-time at a rehab center in Flint. “I have my fingers crossed on at least three more fights this year, but if I get three total, that will be fine.”

This “ShoBox” tripleheader will start at 9 p.m. ET with an eight-round junior welterweight bout between Kurt Scoby (10-0, 8 KOs), of Duarte, California, and Australia’s John Mannu (7-0-1, 4 KOs). Denver’s Misael Lopez (14-1, 5 KOs, 1 NC) and Edward Vazquez (13-1, 3 KOs, 1 NC), of Fort Worth, Texas, will square off in the co-feature, a 10-round featherweight fight.

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.