Kendall Holt’s Las Vegas debut turned out to be a mixed bag Thursday.
Holt, hoping to look like a top contender and gain a rematch of his controversial 11-round technical knockout loss to Ricardo Torres in September in Colombia, failed to win over the crowd at the Hard Rock Hotel in his 10-round super lightweight bout with Ben Tackie. But Holt won over the judges and posted a majority decision.
Dick Houck and Paul Smith scored the fight 98-92 for Holt, and C.J. Ross had it 95-95.
“I thought I’d won it clear,” said Holt (23-2). “I thought I showed superior skills. I had the better ring generalship. I wasn’t going to brawl with him. I wanted to box him.”
Holt, from Paterson, N.J., paid homage to his favorite team, the Super Bowl champion New York Giants, by wearing a white Brandon Jacobs No. 27 jersey into the ring. Holt, the WBO’s No. 2-ranked contender, didn’t lack for motivation. He tried to fight smart, not leaving himself open to any counterpunches by Tackie (29-9-1).
But perhaps Holt was too cautious at times. He found himself backing up in the third and fourth rounds as the sellout crowd of 900 inside The Joint was getting restless. By the end of the eighth, fans were borderline hostile as they made their displeasure clearly known as the fighters failed to deliver much action.
“I was a little under the weather,” said Holt, who was suffering from a cold and admitted he was less than 100 percent physically. “But I still have to perform, and I just tried to be smart.”
It wasn’t until the ninth round that he cut loose. A low blow by Holt out of a clinch sent Tackie down momentarily. Referee Robert Byrd implored Tackie to get up and checked him out, and the fight continued.
Holt managed to sustain what little momentum he built in the round and finished relatively strong in the final round.
Two judges had him leading before the 10th round, as Houck and Smith gave Holt the eighth and ninth to help pad his lead.
Holt said he wished he could have shown better in his Las Vegas debut, but he understands the fans’ displeasure.
“I get booed plenty,” he said. “I’ve been booed after knocking guys out in the first round.
“I would have liked to have put on a better show. But I wasn’t at my best, and I did what I had to do to win the fight.”
Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@ reviewjournal.com or (702) 387-2913.