By Keith Idec
Kendall Holt senses some overconfidence in Danny Garcia.
Based on what he’s heard from Garcia throughout the promotion of their 12-round junior welterweight fight Saturday night in Los Angeles, the former WBO junior welterweight champion determined Garcia thinks Holt is the same fading fighter he was the night South African underdog Kaizer Mabuza beat him over six one-sided rounds 19 months ago in Atlantic City.
“He said he was going to knock me out on a conference call, but I read in between the lines,” said Holt, who has recorded sensational one-punch knockouts in each of his two fights since the Mabuza upset. “He’s never been on this level and he’s just doing what he’s seen other people do and what other people said when they were at this level. He’s just trying to mimic them, give himself some more confidence and just get himself going. If he comes in and gets too overconfident inside that ring, God bless him when that hook hits his ass.”
The punching power of Holt, 30, and Garcia, 23, makes their 12-round fight, the second of four HBO will televise via pay-per-view from Staples Center, one that is unlikely to go the distance.
Holt (27-4, 15 KOs), of Paterson, N.J., has to defeat Philadelphia’s Garcia (21-0, 14 KOs) to get where winning an IBF elimination match against Mabuza (23-8-3, 14 KOs) would’ve taken him. An immediate title shot likely awaits the Holt-Garcia winner because they’ll fight for the No. 1 position in the WBC’s 140-pound ratings, as well as the No. 2 spot in the IBF’s junior welterweight rankings.
Holt, who won the WBO 140-pound title by knocking out Colombia’s Ricardo Torres (33-2, 29 KOs) in a stunning 61-second slugfest in July 2008, is certain his significant experience edge against top opponents will make a difference against Garcia.
“He thinks he’s ready for this because of all this baby food Golden Boy’s been feeding him,” said Holt, who’s promoted by Gary Shaw Productions. “You eat baby food for so long, and that builds a lot of confidence. He’s got a couple small, regional championship belts, he’s been on TV, he’s with [influential adviser] Al Haymon, he’s beat a couple former champions. They’re past their prime, but to him that’s a major confidence-builder.
“Maybe he’s a looking at what a lot of people said about me after the Mabuza fight and the [Timothy] Bradley fight [a 12-round unanimous decision defeat in April 2009]. He’s going to come into this fight with a lot of confidence. It’s up to me to deny him the opportunity to become a contender. He’s still a top prospect, but [Saturday night] he won’t graduate to contender status.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com.