By Andy Rivera: Back in April of 2004, on a breezy spring night outside at the Sandia Amphitheater, a tall local female fighter opened the card in front of a sparse crowd yet to be seated. The local fighter was 7-0-2 taking on an opponent named Rita Turisi, who sported a 2-4 record. After a slow first round a cut opened over the favored local, a deep cut that caused her corner to throw in the towel and say ‘let’s live to fight another day’.
That fighter Holly Holm would defiantly fight another day.
Fast forward to 14 months later, with three more wins under her belt, Promoter Lenny Fresquez, who has been the top promoter in the Southwest region of the United States for almost two decades announced that Holm would take on Women’s boxing Legend Christy Martin who put women’s boxing on the map having appeared on PPV events featuring the likes of Mike Tyson, Felix Trinidad to mention a few. Many scoffed, including including this reporter, wondering what was Fresquez and Holm’s camp thinking ?
Holm would dominate Martin and anyone else in front of her for the next nine years, capturing 18 different versions of world titles in three different weight divisions, having only one setback, being halted by Ann Sophie Mathis in 2011. Holm avenged the loss with a dominating 10 round decision over Mathis six months later.
Fresquez had told me when I asked him, ‘how did he know Holm would dominate Martin and women’s boxing’?
"I just knew she was something special when we signed her." stated Fresquez " She is humble and could fight. I knew if we planned everything right together she’d be the best women’s fighter of all time."
In 2011, Fresquez and Holm’s team of Trainers Mike Winkeljohn and Greg Jackson, considered the best MMA coaching team in the world announced that Holm would dabble in MMA in between title defenses.
Holm, as her boxing trainer Winkeljohn had told her wanted to climb another mountain with competition in boxing now sparse; that mountain in the back of Team Holm’s mind was MMA women’s champion Rhonda Rousey.
Again many had doubts that Holm could compete with Rousey, saying all Fresquez and Holm were trying to do is get Holm a big payday before she hangs up combat sports.
UFC President Dana White stated in May of 2014, "We aren’t interested in Holly Holm at all." some sources stating White and Fresquez didn’t see eye to eye or Holm didn’t bring anything to the table being a boxer.
Holm, Fresquez and White finally met terms and Holm’s and her team were now on track to fight Rousey, in time.
In early fall Fresquez got the call from White that Holm and Rousey would fight in November in Australia, again the doubters came out saying Rousey would demolish Holm and she was in over her head.
As the world saw on Sunday Holm again shocked the world knocking out Rousey in the second round with a kick and multiple punches. She would become the first major champion in either boxing or MMA to win titles in both.
Many will see the upfront scene of Holm, Winkeljohn and Jackson devising the fight plan to defeat the supposed unbeatable Rousey, but it may have been the tactical business skills and plan of Fresquez that helped Holm shock the world not once but twice.
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November 14, 2015