This Friday, February 22, boxing comes live from Washington D.C. as ESPN’s Friday Night Fights will be putting on a main event featuring two top junior welterweights. In what is anticipated to be an action-packed 12-round fight, IBF junior welterweight champion Lamont “Havoc” Peterson (30-1-1, 15 KO) will go to battle against former WBO junior welterweight belt holder Kendall “Rated R” Holt (28-5, 16 KO).
Both warriors have had their share of glory within the squared circle, and Friday night one man will emerge victoriously as the IBF champion and move one step closer to a big time fight with one of the division’s best. As they prepare for what is undoubtedly the most important fight of both of their careers to date, one may have to wonder if either combatant will bring any ring rust inside the ropes.
Peterson has been inactive since December of 2011 when he was awarded a split decision victory over Amir Khan, while Holt’s last outing was March of 2012 when he made easy work of Tim Coleman on Friday Night Fights, dropping him four times inside two rounds before the bout was called to a halt.
As the years continue to pass by for the talented junior welterweights, this fight is pivotal on so many levels. A loss for either boxer can almost eliminate the possibility of fighting again for a world title, and will most likely guide one foot towards retirement. Through his career Holt has shown his perseverance, hitting highs and lows inside and out of the ring, and overcoming adversity en route to raising his hand as the WBO champion. But since 2008 when he defeated Demetrius Hopkins for the belt, he has only gone 3-3, and fallen short in both world title fights and eliminators.
He needs to step up big time Friday night and show that he still has something left in the gas tank. This will be his first fight since undergoing successful shoulder surgery, and he needs to do something in this title fight he hasn’t been able to do in over 4 years—exit the ring with the belt.
In addition to the recent inactivity, Peterson shares something in common with Holt—he too lost a unanimous decision to now undefeated champion Timothy Bradley. But that was the only loss of his career. Peterson has been consistent through his career, and really showed in his last outing against Khan that he is an upper echelon fighter.
“The game plan against Kendall Holt is to stay busy,” Peterson said. “He really doesn’t try to fight the whole three minutes of each round. He kind of picks and chooses when he fights, so we just plan to keep him working and wear him down.”
Holt has been able to rely on his devastating knockout power to get him through some tough exchanges, but in doing so he leaves himself vulnerable. He has shown on more than one occasion that he doesn’t have the best chin in the game, so he can expect Peterson to test it early, and often.
“Lamont’s a good fighter,” Holy said. “One big difference in this fight is that none of the pressure is on me – I’m not fighting at home, it’s not my championship title. All the pressure’s on him and that pressure builds up in a person’s mind. He may come out there and try to impress the crowd and if he gets a little overanxious or a little overzealous. It could be an early night for him.”
It is do or die time for both junior welterweights. All of the eggs will be in the preverbal basket for this 12-round affair, and despite Peterson coming in with the belt and fighting his own backyard, both warriors are coming in evenly matched.
The action begins this Friday, February 22 on ESPN2 at 9 p.m. Eastern.