If the action inside the ring is remotely close to the ongoing war of words that has been waged outside of it, then the Timothy “Desert Storm” Bradley and Kendall “Rated R” Holt showdown will be a strong contender for “Fight of the Year.” In what is being called the biggest international boxing event in Montreal, Canada, since Roberto Duran defeated Sugar Ray Leonard nearly 30 years ago, Bradley and Holt will meet at the historic Bell Centre to unify their respective WBC and WBO 140-pound titles. The champions will clash Saturday, April 4, on SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING live at a special time 10:45 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast) to accommodate fans watching the conclusion of the 2009 NCAA® Men’s Final Four®. In the co-feature, Ukraine’s Vitali Tsypko (22-2, 12 KOs) will take on Librado Andrade (27-2, 21 KOs) in an International Boxing Federation (IBF) super middleweight eliminator.
The 12-round fights are being co-promoted by Gary Shaw Productions, LLC, Bob Arum’s Top Rank, Inc., and Gillett Entertainment Group. The Tsypko-Andrade bout is being promoted in association with Sauerland Events and Golden Boy Promotions.
There has been no shortage of verbal pre-fight jabs; “I’m coming for you. I am going to downgrade Holt’s ‘R’ Rating to a ‘G’ rating,” stated Bradley.
All eyes will surely be on this eagerly awaited fight as both Bradley and Holt are major reasons why the current 140-pound division is among the strongest and deepest in boxing. The ramifications are huge as the winner will likely be in line for yet another big-time matchup.
In a conference call leading up to the fight, both boxers would not back down from one another. “(At the press conference in Montreal) I spoke first and I told him that the only way I know how to beat Kendall Holt is to knock him out because in every fight that’s he’s lost he’s been knocked out,” Bradley said. “That got him a little heated and he started firing at me. But I was just giving the facts.”
“‘He’s never seen anybody like me in his career. He’s never been in the ring with a fighter that has the same speed as he has, the same power, if not more, with more ability. He’s never been in there with a real true athlete. He’s been in there with guys that don’t have a lot of athleticism like I do. That’s going to be the difference in this fight.”
Responded Holt: “It didn’t really get underneath my skin when he said he’d knock me out because when I’m in a fight I want to knock everybody out. Going the distance, going 12 rounds is just a bonus for the fans. I want to knock everybody out. I mean I look at my opponent as he wants to do the same thing to me.
“This is the biggest fight of my career to date so it’s the most important fight. Each and every fight is important because without winning the fight at hand you can’t move onto the next big fight.”
Bradley (23-0, 11 KOs), of Palm Springs, Calif., has successfully defended his title once since claiming the WBC belt with an unexpected win over Junior Witter in Nottingham, England, last May 10, on SHOWTIME.
Holt, the Paterson, N.J., native with 25 wins, 2 losses and 13 knockouts, retained his WBO belt with a split decision over late substitute Demetrius Hopkins in Atlantic City, N.J., on Dec. 13, 2008, on SHOWTIME.
Hopkins was a last-minute fill-in for Ricardo Torres, who claimed he was too sick to make the 140-pound weight limit and backed out of the fight. It would have been the third and final of a thrilling trilogy as both Holt and Torres had split their previous two memorable meetings.
Bradley again needled Holt about the experience issue. “I don’t think he has more experience than I do,” Bradley said. “I honestly don’t. As far as having more experience in the professional ranks, yeah? But I’ve had over 145 amateur fights. You get a lot of experience from your amateur career dealing with different styles and different heights, sizes and ability. I’ve got way more fights than him from that standpoint. As far as experience, he’s been in the professional game a lot longer than I have and I actually won a world title before he won his. If I’m inexperienced then just let me know. But I feel I’m experienced as well as he is.”
Shot back Holt: “Who the hell cares about the amateurs right now? Demetrius had more experience than me in the amateurs too, and he beat me in the amateurs. (Miguel) Cotto got beat in the amateurs by people he knocked out in the pros. Who the hell cares about the amateurs really?”
Boxing fans are well aware of Andrade, who suffered a controversial loss against undefeated IBF super middle kingpin and local favorite Lucian Bute last October in Montreal on ShoBox. The defending champion dominated the initial 11-plus rounds but fell apart late in the final round before being brutally knocked down in the final seconds.
Visibly shaken and hurt, Bute barely made it to his feet as he beat the referee’s 10-count to retain his belt via decision.
Andrade, who is currently ranked No. 2 by the IBF, figures to be a favorite over Tsypko, who is ranked No. 1 with the fight’s winner becoming Bute’s mandatory challenger.
The highly anticipated April 4 telecast comes just three weeks after another important world title fight was staged at the Bell Centre in Montreal on SHOWTIME. On March 13, Bute made his third successful International Boxing Federation (IBF) defense with a devastating fourth-round TKO victory over Fulgencio Zuniga on ShoBox: The New Generation.
SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING announcers Gus Johnson and Al Bernstein will call the action from ringside April 4 with Karyn Bryant reporting from ringside. The executive producer of SHOWTIME Sports is David Dinkins Jr., with Ray Smaltz producing and Bob Dunphy directing.