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19 NOVEMBER 2018


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Bradley Defeats Holt To Unify Junior Welterweight Titles

Bradley wins: Tom Casino/Showtime
Bradley wins: Tom Casino/Showtime

By Michael Norby: Undefeated WBC junior welterweight world champion Timothy Bradley added the WBO strap to his trophy case on Saturday night with a stirring and hard earned unanimous decision victory over Kendall Holt at The Bell Center in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

A tight and tactical contest was predicted this evening but from the opening round it was apparent that a different flavor would be served for this unification fight broadcast by Showtime. Some quick thinking by Bradley 24-0 (11) in the first round saved his night as, after hitting the deck heavily from a blistering left hook, he rethought his decision to shoot straight back up by taking a knee, taking stock and taking a prime opportunity away from Holt 25-3 (13) to end things early.

From then forward, Bradley bit down and let his hands go – forcing Holt into retreat and, in the process, accruing rounds in a wonderful display of grit and determination. A flash knockdown in the final round threatened to derail Bradley’s efforts but, all three judges ruled unanimously in his favor.

Bradley’s speed advantage was evident from the opening bell as he inched forward, shot out his jab and thumped Holt to the body early in the round. Holt looked for counter punching opportunities and just missed with a pair of menacing right hands early but, with a minute remaining, a crunching left hook sent Bradley crashing heavily to the canvas. After getting up immediately, the Californian wisely elected to get back down on his knee until late in the count and that decision to compose himself may have been the difference in whether or not he made it out of the round.

Despite the violent nature of the knockdown, Bradley’s legs looked solid to start the second and he jumped on the offensive, although Holt was able to find the smaller man with his jab consistently and connected with an hard uppercut/left hook sequence in the opening minute. Bradley was able to score with a zipping body combination not long after and came forward continuously but Holt fought calmly and with purpose – picking his spots and fully employing the ring to find opportunities throughout the round.

Bradley enjoyed a greater deal of success in the third and he connected frequently with brisk body and head combinations as Holt retreated and shot single punches in return. The WBC champion forced pressure on his opponent throughout the round and, apart from a handful of counter punches, Holt was forced to defend and thus was unable to mount any sustained offense.

Indeed, Bradley continued to annoy his fellow champion in a fourth round that he began with quick, accurate and scoring body combinations. Holt tried to get a fire going as he walked forward behind his jab and he managed to catch Bradley with meaningful right hands at times, although he was clearly being out-worked by the 25-year-old. A clash of heads opened a small cut above the right eye of Holt and, although there was only a trickle of blood visible, Holt pawed at and winced from the wound for much of the round.

This was turning out to be an intriguing contest and, after near disaster in the opening round, Bradley had punched his way back into the fight by the middle rounds. He pressured Holt constantly, stinging him with multi-punch assaults to the torso and head but frequently and narrowly avoiding heavy, knockout-seeking counter punches by the stronger Holt.

Bradley was surely racking up rounds by actively out-landing and out-working his opponent in the fifth and sixth rounds. He punched whatever part of the body that he could find and it was quickly becoming clear that Holt was banking solely on another money punch resembling what he had found in that opening round. Dropping frames like hot potatoes in search of a knockout began to look like a risky, unhealthy gamble as the fight progressed and, with Bradley refusing to step off the gas and even stunning his opponent in the seventh, Holt’s strategy began to look fruitless.

Bradley’s body work was working a treat and he found more opportunities to the head as Holt dropped his hands slightly and began to weaken in the eighth. He piled up points and faced only a scattering of right hands in return, although, Holt managed to dig a little deeper in the ninth and gave Bradley something to think about as he finally connected more often behind his jab.

Still, though, as the fight entered the championship rounds, Bradley was in control and, whenever both men exchanged in the center of the ring, he proved to be the more effective and more accurate puncher. He repaid Holt with interest when the New Jersey fighter was able to land and refused to allow his lack of punching power to tell the story of the fight.

In the final round, however, a right uppercut by Holt caused a flash knockdown as Bradley’s glove grazed the canvas. It was a moment that threatened to erase the benefits of the persistent hard work that Bradley had undertaken but, after courageously propelling himself back from the brink of failure in the first round, the young Californian dropped with emotion as he heard the unanimous tallies of the judges.

Scores: 114-112; 115-111; 115-111

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