By Keith Idec
The final few days leading up to weigh-ins for fights contested at the junior welterweight limit of 140 pounds have almost always been brutal for Kendall Holt.
The former WBO junior welterweight champ has had no such problems this week. He felt fresh as he approached Thursday’s weigh-in for his fight later tonight against Tim Coleman, a 10-round welterweight bout that’ll be televised by ESPN2 from Morongo Casino Resort & Spa in Cabazon, Calif.
Holt (27-5, 15 KOs), a Paterson, N.J., native, expects the difference in making weight comfortably to be evident during his crossroads encounter with Coleman (19-2-1, 5 KOs). The contracted weight limit for the Coleman fight is 145 pounds.
“I’ll feel different in the ring,” Holt said. “I’ll have more energy. Making 140 was a factor for me. It’s not that I can’t make the weight. I just feel that my body doesn’t recuperate in that 24-hour period [between the weigh-in and the fight] enough to stay at that weight. I don’t really rehydrate properly. The more people I talk to and the more insight I get let’s me know that the way I rehydrate is not enough. I feel like my body doesn’t get what it needs to recover after the weigh-in. I won’t have that problem for this fight.”
The heavy-handed Holt’s punch out-put has been low throughout his 11-year pro career, which has been contested almost exclusively at junior welterweight or slightly above that limit. He attributes some of his lack of activity in the ring to his struggles with making weight.
Buddy McGirt told Holt as soon as he began training him late last summer that he couldn’t continue competing at 140 pounds if wanted to be as effective as possible. McGirt needed just one look at the 5-foot-9 Holt’s fat-free physique to make that determination. McGirt didn’t train Holt for the Coleman bout, but McGirt figures he’ll see a much different fighter Friday night than the one whose ordinary outing cost him any shot at beating undefeated Philadelphia contender Danny Garcia (22-0, 14 KOs) in his last fight, a 12-round WBC junior elimination match Holt lost by split decision Oct. 15 at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
“In preparing for that fight with Garcia, Kendall boxed a kid in L.A. when Kendall was about 148, 149,” McGirt said. “The other kid was about 168. Kendall beat the breaks off this [expletive]. It was so bad that James Toney, and James Toney don’t give nobody no credit, that James Toney said, ‘Yo Buddy, this [expletive] can fight.’
“I said to him, ‘Kendall, watch what happens when your weight drops under 145.’ He boxed a guy under 145, he was like 144, 143, and Kendall couldn’t do [anything]. And he looked at me and he goes, ‘Buddy, you’re right.’ In boxing, two pounds can make a big difference in a fighter. Kendall looked at me and said, ‘Damn Buddy, you were right. I couldn’t do [expletive]. I wasn’t tired, but I couldn’t get my punches off.’ I said, ‘Because you’re not 140-pounder.’ ”
If anyone knows the difference between how it feels fighting at 147 as opposed to 140, it’s McGirt. The Brentwood, N.Y., native won world titles at junior welterweight and welterweight during his 15-year career.
McGirt envisions the same weight switch having a similar impact on the 30-year-old Holt’s career.
“If Kendall Holt is Kendall Holt nobody’s going to beat him at 147,” McGirt said. “Kendall can fight. Kendall doesn’t really know how good he is. I’ve been telling him for months, ‘When you see how good you really are, you’re going to [bleeping] hurt people.’ That [expletive] can fight, man. Kendall Holt can fight. I don’t give a [expletive] what nobody says. If he was in the gym with any old-timer and they saw him, they’d say, ‘That kid can fight. That’s one [expletive] that can fight.’
“If he just knew how good he can fight, he’d be a [bleeping] terror. I love Kendall. He’s a great person, man, and helluva fighter. He just doesn’t know how good he really is, because he’s always had that problem making 140 and he has always had that problem of trying to conserve energy. But I believe that once he sees in this fight with Tim Coleman that, ‘Hey, I can let my hands go. I ain’t weak,’ once he sees that and feels that, nobody’s going to beat him.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com.