by Fox Doucette
Kendall “Rated R” Holt (27-5, 15 KOs) continues what has been a very up-and-down career lately, as he returns to the ESPN2 Friday Night Fights’ stage to battle Tim Coleman (19-2-1, 5 KOs) in a junior welterweight main event. The co-feature brings fans featherweight prospect Abraham Lopez (16-0, 12 KOs) taking the first major step up in class of his career against Gabriel Tolmajyan (12-1-1, 3 KOs).
Kendall Holt’s recent outings have been maddeningly inconsistent. Back in 2008, Holt held and defended a world title at 140 pounds courtesy of the WBO. In April of 2009, Holt stepped into the ring with Timothy Bradley, who at that point looked promising but was untested. Bradley won a tough but ultimately strong unanimous decision to launch his bid for stardom. Holt, in an effort to get back to another title shot, got stopped in six by Kaizer Mabuza in an IBF title eliminator.
Holt looked to be getting his career back on track last year. First, he got a little glorified sparring in as he demolished Lenin Arroyo in the first round of a fight that appears to have ended Arroyo’s career; for Arroyo it was his eighth straight loss and fourth straight by knockout. Then in May, Holt went on FNF and delivered a very, very strong candidate for Knockout of the Year as he uncorked a glorious shot to the dome of Julio Diaz, knocking Diaz colder than Napoleon’s troops in Russia. The win caught the attention of the WBC and IBF, who gave Holt a shot at their #2 rankings and a potential title shot down the road. All he had to do was beat Danny Garcia, who at that point had yet to beat a truly championship-caliber fighter (the version of Nate Campbell that Garcia beat in his previous fight was a far cry from the Nate Campbell who had once been lightweight champ).
Trouble was, Garcia was the better fighter in the ring that night, winning a split decision that shouldn’t have been a split decision (the scores were 117-111 twice, 113-115, and judge Wayne Hedgpeth probably ought to have his eyes checked before being allowed ringside for another fight). Now Kendall Holt is back on ESPN2 for yet another showcase fight as he seeks to resurrect his career for what may be the final time.
In his way, he is a guy with very limited punching power who may himself be on the fast track to Palookaville. Tim Coleman has two losses as a pro, both against undefeated fighters, most recently a seventh-round stoppage against Vernon Paris in a grudge match fight on FNF last August. Coleman initially had the upper hand in that fight, dropping Paris in round two, but the Baltimore native tasted the canvas twice in round six before the coup de grace was delivered in the seventh.
Tim Coleman’s power is in serious question; his lone knockout win over a guy with any kind of fight cred came against Patrick Lopez, whose lone accomplishment as a pro was exposing Prenice Brewer as a puffed-record unbeaten on FNF back in 2010. In truth, it is unlikely that Tim Coleman will have enough power to force Kendall Holt to respect him, which given Holt’s own one-punch knockout ability should make this fight all but a foregone conclusion. Kendall Holt will have an awfully strong sense of deja vu when this fight is over; a big win on ESPN should propel him to another shot at the big time, and if he loses that fight, whoever the opponent may be, there may yet be a third time…or there may not.
The co-feature should be a very intriguing contest. On paper, it looks like your standard issue unbeaten in against an opponent who looks better on a fight sheet than he does in the ring. But Gabriel Tolmajyan is no ordinary TV-fodder chump. For starters, he already owns a win over an unbeaten prospect, eking out a split decision by the narrowest of margins (76-75 twice, 75-76), in his last fight against Daulis Prescott. On top of that, Tolmajyan is part of the Armenian boxing scene in Glendale, California; he shares a promoter with prospect Art Hovhannisyan and fights out of the same town as junior middleweight contender Vanes Martirosyan. With that kind of influence around him, it is clear to see that this is not just another tomato can. Indeed, Tolmajyan’s lone loss as a pro came by majority decision in a four-rounder in only his fourth pro fight.
For the unbeaten Abraham Lopez, this is by far the toughest test of his career. The closest thing to Tolmajyan that Lopez has faced, as far as level of competition, was in April of last year against the 10-1-2 Aaron Garcia, and Lopez won a majority decision in that fight. The difference is that Garcia was 3-1-2 in his last six leading into that fight and had never gone more than six rounds in a contest previous. Tolmajyan is coming off his first eight-round fight, the aforementioned win over the unbeaten Prescott.
Many times in this space, it has fallen to your columnist to call out “prospects” who have shied away from a real challenge on the way up. This is a major statement of legitimacy for Abraham Lopez. If he wins, he beat a guy with some real chops and put the featherweight division on notice. If he loses, he learns the lessons from a fight against a guy who was a bigger challenge than he expected and potentially comes back stronger. This is smart matchmaking for Abraham Lopez’s handlers; we will learn a lot about the kid Friday night.
Friday Night Fights airs on March 16th at 9 PM Eastern/6 PM Pacific on ESPN2 and online at ESPN3.com. The Boxing Tribune will have a full recap of the night’s televised action, including any swing fights that make air, following the conclusion of the program. Stay tuned.
Fox Doucette covers Friday Night Fights for The Boxing Tribune. His weekly column, The Southpaw, appears on Thursdays. Fan mail, hate mail, and “John 3:16” signs can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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