It stands as one of my favorite boasty quotes from a fighter: "I don't lay down, I lay backs down!" Kendall Holt told me before he gloved up with Danny Garcia last October at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The quote didn't match reality, as Holt added a loss to his ledger. He looked fairly flat against Garcia, who made true believers of some pundits who weren't sure whether he was more hype than substance.
Holt (27-5, 15 KOs), a former junior welterweight champ, will face Tim Coleman (19-2-1, 5 KOs) in the main event of "Friday Night Fights" at the Morongo Casino in Cabazon, Calif.
Thursday morning -- and I do mean morning, because I am a moron when it comes to time zones -- I reached out to Holt for a chat. At 6 a.m. California time. The fighter was well within his rights to inform me of my moron status, but a gracious Holt instead offered, "Mr. Woods, it is 6 a.m.!"
"Sleep!" I told him, horrified at my gaffe.
"But since the early bird catches the worm and I have to lose three pounds, I'm up," he answered.
Holt said he won't go overboard looking to make good on that clever "lay backs down," line, but knowing full well that Coleman is coming off a TKO loss to Vernon Paris in his most recent outing, he won't be shy about looking for the right spot to end it early.
"I won't zero in on it and waste rounds like I did against Garcia and Timothy Bradley [a unanimous decision loss in a 2009 title defense]," he said.
Despite what Wayne Hedgepeth said, Holt did indeed look like a lesser version of his best self against Garcia. Hedgepeth, who should be banned from judging bouts until his vision and faculties are checked, saw Holt as a 115-113 winner. The two judges who had it 117-111 were in the ballpark. So why didn't Holt make it a harder night for Garcia? The boxer, 2-3 in his past five tussles, explained that he had been sparring only once a week in Jersey and in California leading up to the scrap, but this time around training is going full steam ahead.
The legend Roy Jones Jr. will work his corner, which many of us hope is an indicator of what the 43-year-old former pound-for-pound ace will concentrate on full time going forward. Holt said his dad had been training him, for the first time since he was an amateur in 1998, but because he needed surgery on his foot to repair a bone spur, Holt called up Jones and asked him to fill in. Jones pondered, and said, "I'm there!"
Holt, 30, knows his ring days are numbered. He has been going to school to become a physical therapist, but he believes he still has something to offer the sport. Making 140 is a stiff task as he ages, which is why the Coleman bout is contracted for a 144 max. (Holt said it's not a big deal for him to have to lose three pounds on weigh-in day. He usually has to lose seven or eight pounds on the day of weigh-in, he said. He also told me that he just learned he has been cutting weight and re-hydrating improperly, so after this bout, he should be able to employ correct methods to get to a proper weight.)
The extra weight could be a solid plus for Holt, who owns a left hook that Coleman must be on the lookout for. I expect Holt, who typically gets the better of B-level boxers, to get the nod at Morongo. Coleman, 27, has talked some trash -- "Holt is lacking heart," he said. "I think his heart has pretty much always been in question" -- but he's known for being a bit more effective in the trash-talk arena than the actual arena. And he might be mentally drained, as the sport hasn't treated him with much dignity or income.
At Moronogo, with Jones there to offer tactical and strategic insight, Holt just might make good on his "lay backs down" boast.