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Holt Decisions Tackie, Bores Crowd

Ben Tackie Kendall HoltBy John Dower: Making his first appearance since losing by a controversial 11th round stoppage in a title match against World Boxing Organization light welterweight champion Ricardo Torres last September 1st, Kendall Holt (23-2, 12 KOs) won a dull 10-round majority decision over journeyman fighter Ben Tackie (29-9-1, 17 KOs) on Friday night at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Holt, 25, ranked #2 in the WBO light welterweight division, was hoping to look impressive, and make a case for himself for a potential rematch with Torres.

However, it didn’t end up that way, for Holt, like usual, fought mostly cautious during most of the action, fighting off his back foot, constantly clinching and fighting economically. The final judges’ scores were 98-92, 98-92 and 95-95. The last score, 95-95, seemed way off base as far as I’m concerned, because Holt, as boring a fighter as he is, seemed to have won virtually every round except for one, the 7th, when Tackie uncharacteristically let his hands go a bit more than in the other rounds of the fight. Nevertheless, Holt did little to make a case for himself in terms of redeeming his name since his last fight, as he mostly stood back, posing and pot-shotting the slow, plodding Tackie.

While Holt did look good when he let his hands go, showing blazing speed and excellent power, he’d mess it all up by not consistently throwing punches enough. The crowd hated the fight, booing loudly from the 4th until the bitter end in the 10th. The boos hardly changed things, though, for neither fighter seemed to step up the pace of their fighting. In fairness to Tackie, 34, I don’t think he physically could fight any harder than he did, because at his age, he no longer can throw a lot of punches like he did earlier in his career. It’s somewhat sad, in particular when you remember Tackies’ fight with Ray Oliveira seven years ago in August 2001, in which the two of them combined for an incredible 2729 punches thrown in a 12-round battle which Tackie won by a majority decision.

In that point of his career, Tackie was a non-stop punching machine. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to realize that Holt would have been in deep trouble if he was standing across from a young Tackie, and not the 34 year-old version that he met last night. As it was, Tackie was able to land some decent right hands in every round of the fight, enough so that Holt, who doesn’t have th best chin in boxing, would instinctively grab onto him in a clinch each time he was hit.

In rounds one through four, Holt controlled most of the action with his jabs and fast combinations, though only his jabs were thrown with any kind of frequency. Holt looked similar to a slower, more limited version of a young Roy Jones Jr., but without his excellent foot movement. Holt showed blazing handspeed during much of the action, hitting Tackie with flurries. However, Holt spent much of the time against the ropes, almost like an older fighter, covering up and throwing pot shots.

Against a better, younger fighter than Tackie, Holt would be susceptible to getting nailed by a big shot, like he did against Ricardo Torres when he tagged him while Holt was resting against the ropes. It seems as if Holt has learned nothing since that fight. Either that, or he just didn’t respect Tackie enough to fight smart by staying off the ropes and staying in the center of the ring. Holt would have saved himself a lot of needless punishment against Tackie if he had chosen to stay off the ropes, because the style seemed to suit Tackie, a classic pressure fighter. Tackie, perhaps knowing that he doesn’t have the speed or accuracy to land a high percentage of head shots, focused mostly on landing shots to the midsection of Holt. In this, Tackie was quite effective, for he landed a high percentage of his shots when he went to the body. Unfortunately, that left him own for getting countered to the head, which Hold did well, at times, hitting him with big right hands.

In the fifth round, Holt hit Tackie with a perfect left-right combination at the start of the round, staggering him and knocking his mouthpiece out. Holt would follow up with another huge combination seconds later, but it wasn’t enough to drop the steal-chinned Tackie, who took the shots and kept coming forward. By the end of the round, it was Tackie who was landing shots while Holt initiated clinches to try and prevent him from throwing shots.

In the 7th round, Tackie came out looking like himself from years ago, as he poured in huge shots, ignoring Holt’s counter punches, not letting them slow him down. Tackie landed a number of excellent right hands and left hooks that had Holt looking worried, perhaps having a flashback to the 11th round against Torres.

The action slowed back down in the 8th round, as neither fighter did much to establish themselves in the round. The crowd, as if on cue, started booing once again, but the boos failed to get Holt or Tackie to increase the pace of their fight much. Holt appeared to win the fight based on a handful of combinations he threw in the round, whereas landed a few combinations of his own, but not nearly enough to win the round due to his lack of punches thrown for most of the round.

In the ninth round, Holt landed a low blow seconds into the round, which dropped Tackie to the canvas in pain. More boos followed. Tackie got up, and the action resumed with his plodding slow after Holt, throwing shots, and being clinched constantly. It was obviously by design, but it had the effect of slowing the fight down, and likely turning off ringside fans and television viewers like. It seemed odd, because Tackie isn’t a real knockout threat, at least at this stage in his career, yet Holt was treating him as if he were a knockout artist. Given the fact that Holt appeared to land a few more punches overall in this round, I gave it to him.

In the tenth round, Tackie came alive once again, taking the fight to Holt and letting his hands go much more often. However, Holt quickly shut him down, initiating a half dozen clinches during the round to prevent Tackie from landing. Holt finished strong, landing a number of combinations, which he threw going backwards.

Frankly, based on this victory it was hard to imagine that Holt was a #2 rated junior welterweight based. I don’t where he can go from here. I don’t see a fight with Torres, the WBO champion, as being financially viable in the U.S., which means that Holt would have to go to Colombia again to fight him. I’m sure Holt will really love that idea. Other than that, he has few other choices. He could take on one of the younger fighters, someone like Lamont Peterson, who’s ranked just behind him #3 in the WBO, but that would be a very risky fight for Holt. I don’t see Holt being able to win that fight, and I doubt highly he’d want to fight him. More likely, Holt will stay busy, fighting more washed up fighters until Torres gives him a rematch at some point in the near future.

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