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Azad Championship Report: Peterson Comes Alive, Stops Holt

Azad Championship Report
Azad Championship Report

By Daniel Kravetz


(Washington, DC) It took a few rounds for Lamont Peterson to get going, but once he found his rhythm, Kendall Holt could do nothing to stop him.  Peterson (31-1-1) shook off a slow start to thrash Holt (28-6), ultimately landing a forceful flurry in the 8th round of the championship bout, leaving Holt out against the ropes and compelling referee Tony Weeks to call a halt to the bout at 1:42 of the round.

 

Peterson retained his IBF light welterweight title.  Perhaps more importantly, after a tumultuous 14 months—in which he upset Brit talent Amir Khan to win two titles, then faced severe condemnation after testing positive for excessive testosterone—Peterson earned a measure of vindication in front of a hometown crowd of over 3,000 that travelled to the DC Armory and loudly cheered him on.

 

While Holt was the fighter who entered the ring with the reputation of inactivity, it was Peterson who seemed to be the more tentative of the two at the onset of the combat.  The first three rounds were primarily fought in the center of the ring, where Holt demonstrated a marginal advantage that he was expected to find in that locale.  While Peterson mostly posed and repositioned his upper body, Holt landed a few hooks and unveiled his reconstructed right shoulder with an occasional cross.  But neither fighter left a mark.


Holt brought the extended feeling out period to a close in round 4 via a rally of shots—and it was this aggression that appeared to unleash Peterson, who turned on the switch midway through the round and began pushing Holt to the ropes with his trademark head-down body work.  Then Peterson put a huge cross on the mark, then another, and then a third that put Holt down for the first time.  Holt beat the count and escaped the round, but the tide of the fight had shifted inalterably.

 

Peterson continued to control the Armory ring’s real estate in the 5th round, and in the 6th, he landed a cluster of body shots that left Holt in permanent retreat.  A flurry at the end of the round, capped off by a heavy hook and a follow-up cross, floored Holt again.  Holt failed to sustain an abbreviated rally in round 7, again finding himself subjected to Peterson’s will and work-rate.  In the 8th, a straight right hand from Peterson buckled Holt again, and Holt wilted under the furious assault that followed.  Weeks stepped in just as Holt had been rendered defenseless.

 

“[Kendall] always seems to have a good counter hook and a good overhand right,” Peterson indicated after the fight. “I just wanted to make sure I could guard both of those punches…then I started charging forward, and that changed the fight.” Peterson mentioned a number of names that he would like to pursue next:  Danny Garcia; Lucas Matthysse; a rematch with Amir Khan. “I’m just anxious to see what’s going to happen from here,” he said.

 

For Holt, the loss was not the first in a career of many highs and lows, but it may have been the most career-altering.  After the fight, he expressed a need for change.  Among the options: a move up to welterweight—he indicated that he had not eaten for three days prior to the weigh-in—or even a retirement from the sport. “I don’t want to make any decisions right now,” he said. “When my mind is clear…I’m going to sit back and decide if I am going to resume my career at 147 pounds.”

 

Undercard:  Roman Morales KOs Jesus Hernandez

 

Power proved the difference in the FNF co-feature, as 122-pound prospect Roman Morales earned a fifth-round knockout of fellow Californian Jesus Hernandez.  Morales punctuated a volley of punches with a hard left to the midsection that left Hernandez crouched on his knees as the referee completed the count.

 

Hernandez troubled Morales in the early rounds with sharp counters from both hands, which Morales’ sporadic switches to southpaw failed to effectively spoil.  But the smaller and less heavy-handed Hernandez failed to earn the respect of Morales, who continued to seek to exchange.  In the final seconds of the fourth round, Morales walked through two well-timed counters to release a combination that put Hernandez on the canvas for the first time.

 

Morales dominated the final stanza from its early moments, putting his punches together and sending Hernandez reeling.  Morales landed a hard cross, then the decisive hook.  With the knockout, Morales improved to 15-0, while Hernandez fell to 13-1-3.



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