By Jake Donovan
It didn’t take very long for Kendall Holt and Danny Garcia to dig into one another when speaking about their October 15 crossroads bout at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.
The bout will air live on HBO PPV in a supporting capacity to the light heavyweight championship bout between Bernard Hopkins and Chad Dawson. Judging by the words they spoke on Thursday’s media conference call, it’s quite clear that they have every intention of stealing the show.
“Everything he’s talking about doing, I’ve already done and am prepared to still do,” Holt pointed out of his opponent eight years his junior. “There’s a big difference between watching greatness on television and being in the ring with it.”
Garcia recognizes Holt as being the most experienced opponent he’s ever faced, though most of his compliments were offered in past tense format.
“Holt is a good fighter and was a great champion, but he’s had his chance,” Garcia believes. “This is my time and I’m ready to step it up.”
For Garcia (21-0, 14KO), the bout marks his second straight challenge against a former titlist. The 23-year old Philly native is coming off of a near shutout win over Nate Campbell, once upon a time a top lightweight beltholder but now long past his best days.
A win over Holt will mark his most impressive achievement to date, or at least since outpointing fringe contender Ashley Theophane in their February ’10 ESPN2-televised headliner. To his credit, Garcia acknowledges the fact that his resume reads thin in comparison to Holt, which is why this fight is a necessary step towards his goal of title contention.
“I’m confident in my abilities, and know that it’s time to step up,” Garcia states. “When I was growing up, I was always taught, ‘Fight the best, beat the best, be the best.’ He’s one of the best and I want to challenge the best. I feel like I’m ready.”
The past couple of years have pointed in that direction for the extra-toed prospect. A gifted amateur who elected to turn pro in 2007 in favor of a potential run at the Olympics, Garcia has raised his game over an elevated level of competition in the past couple of years.
Still, while his name is often spoken with a measure of respect by many in the industry, Garcia has to endure a challenge where he wasn’t immediately expected to win.
That changes on October 15, when he goes up against a version of Holt that’s hungry to prove that he has enough left for at least one more championship run.
“I’m excited to prove that I’m the same Kendall Holt that I was when I won the world title,” says the 30-year old, two years removed from a tour as a140 lb. titlist. “This fight is nothing new for me. I’ve done all of this and am going to continue to do it. He’s a young lion trying to make a name for himself, but that’s not coming at my expense.”
Holt has already played the role of a fighter earning respect at his expense, suffering a shocking sixth round knockout loss at the hands of Kaiser Mabuza last year. The bout was his first in nearly 11 months, which followed a close title loss to Tim Bradley and a run-in with the law due to his involvement with former manager Henry Cortes.
The worst appears to be behind Holt, who has won two straight since returning to the ring earlier this year. His two ring appearances have totaled less than four rounds, scoring knockout wins over Lenin Arroyo and former lightweight titlist Julio Diaz. But how much time he spends in the ring during fights is hardly indicative of the amount of time he spends preparing for his next assignment.
“I don’t have ring rust. Even though my last two fights have lasted less than four rounds, I prepared myself to go the full ten rounds. That’s why they didn’t go the distance. I’m not just prepared physically for this fight, I’m also prepared mentally.”
To which Garcia responds that youth will prevail over experience.
“I’m young, I’m fast, I’m strong and I’m hungry. Come October 15, I’m going to show the world and will knock Holt out.”
Until that actually happens, Holt doesn’t pay any mind to such claims.
“I look at his smack talk as (Garcia) never being on this level, and just hearing what other people are saying. His people are saying I’m past my best and saying things to boost his ego and he’s eating it up. He talks about being young and fast but guess what – I’ve been in there with strong fighters and fast fighters. What’s he going to do once he gets hit with my power?”
Both will found out on October 15 in Los Angeles, where their war of words will hopefully transition in a war worth the words spoken.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected].