Holt Defeats Hopkins
By Jim Dower: In his first defense of his World Boxing Organization (WBO) light welterweight title, Kendall Holt (25-2, 13 KOs) won a 12-round split decision over replacement fighter Demetrius Hopkins (28-1-1, 11 KOs) on Saturday night at the Boardwalk Hall, in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The final judges’ scores were 116-112, 117-111 and 113-115. The fight wasn’t all that close, though, as Holt clearly was the better fighter through much of the 12-round fight.
He did fade, however, in the last two rounds, giving away both rounds to Hopkins. Holt’s original opponent, Ricardo Torres, bowed out of the fight recently due to an illness that prevented him from training properly for the fight. This left Hopkins, 28, ranked #9 in the WBO and #12 in the IBF, as Holt’s last minute replacement.
As it turns out, Hopkins gave a good account of himself, giving Holt a lot of problems throughout the fight with his fast hands, long jab and constant movement. Hopkins, however, was no match for Holt’s combinations and speed in rounds one through ten.
Each time that Hopkins would start doing well with his jabs, Holt would wreck all his progress by hitting him with a flurry of blinding punches to steal a round that would have otherwise gone to Hopkins. Like in his first fight with Torres, in which Holt faded down the stretch, he once again tired badly in the last two rounds.
Hopkins fought well in the opening round, jabbing and moving, preventing Holt from landing his quick shots. In the 2nd round, Holt began to take advantage of his better hand speed by throwing a couple of quick flurries at Hopkins when in close.
Due Hopkins continuous movement, Holt on a couple of occasions had to leap in with fast shots to connect. Hopkins, 28, continued with his game plan of jabbing and moving, not letting Holt get him into a war that would have favored the much faster Holt.
In rounds three and four, Holt used his fast hands, combinations and darting attacks to control the fight. Hopkins seemed only capable of fighting in one style, limited to jabbing and moving and wasn’t able to adapt to Holt’s fast attacks.
In the 5th round, Holt was beginning to look frustrated at Hopkins constant circling in the ring and limited engagements. Indeed, Holt got few chances in the round to land any significant punches with Hopkins moving about constantly. Hopkins landed a lot of jabs in this round and appeared to win it, although it was a boring round to watch.
In the 6th and 7th rounds, Holt used fast combinations to get the better of Hopkins. At the start of the 7th round, Holt staggered Hopkins with a monstrous left hook to the head, causing Hopkins to have to clinch. For the next minute, Hopkins clinched often and landed few punches while he waited for his head to clear. By the end of the round, he was once again fighting well, landing jabs like always.
In rounds eight through ten, Hopkins continued his circling and side to side movement, essentially giving away the rounds for lack of engaging with Holt. None of these rounds were particularly close, as Holt was the only one landing any significant punches.
However, at the end of the 10th, Holt looked totally spent, having exhausted himself from chasing Hopkins. In the 11th and 12th, emboldened by Holt’s sudden punch drop off, Hopkins took over the fight but still did nothing but throw harmless jabs. Hopkins needed a knockout to win, yet he continued to throw jabs and not the power shots that were needed to take out Holt.
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