Holt to Cotto, HBO and Top rank: “Your replacement is right here, already in New Jersey!”

By Ray O. Campbell Jr.


Holt to Cotto, HBO and Top rank: “Your replacement is right here, already in New Jersey!”

After our very own Greg Leon broke the news that former world title challenger Gianluco Branco 36-1-1(19) suffered a hand injury during training, which lead to HBO and Top Rank looking for a suitable replacement to take on undefeated WBO Light Welterweight champion Miguel Cotto 24-0(20) on September 24in live on HBO PPV. Boxingtalk.com spoke to WBO Inter-Continental Light Welterweight champ Kendall “Rated-R” Holt 19-1(12) to get his thoughts on possibly filling in for the injured Italian. Read on as the Patterson, New Jersey native breaks down in the exclusive one on one, just why he feels he’s the guy to fill the spot. 

RC: Kendall, Boxingtalk.com was the first to break the news that Gianluco Branco suffered an injury during training that will prevent him from facing WBO Miguel Cotto on September 24th as the co-feature bout to Klitschko-Peter, from what I understand you are willing to step in, what can you tell us?

KH: Man I have been willing to jump in there since day one. I wanted to stay training just because if something like this was to happen. But I was sidelined by a shoulder injury that is already 90% healed and I have been in the gym for two weeks already now, and there is still three more weeks until the fight. So that is more than enough time for me. I know Dino (Duva) is going to get me the right sparring so that is plenty of time for me. I am ready; I am running two times a day. I do my five miles in the morning and I do my sprints at night so believe me I am ready for him.

RC: I had also been informed that you were going to fight on non-televised portion of September 24th under card, and although an opponent hasn’t been solidified, I am sure it wasn’t going to be someone on the same level as Miguel Cotto, is three weeks enough time to step and prepare for a world title shot?

KH: I told you I been ready for him. Five weeks of training I feel is enough time, if I would have had an extra week or two it would have been perfect but, opportunities like this don’t come around every week so, five weeks will be enough time.

RC: You mentioned you were coming off a shoulder injury how do you feel about going into a match up like this knowing...

KH: (Cutting in) Like I said before it is at about 90% I don’t feel to much pain and as days go by. I haven’t been feeling anything at all. I am close to saying it is 100% but I don’t want to say that until I come back from the doctor and check the X-rays again to make sure it is all gone.

RC: Do you know if there have been any formal discussions between your promoter (Dino Duva), and HBO or Top Rank (Cotto’s promoter) in regards to this fight happening on the 24th?

KH:  From what I hear, Top Rank and HBO called Dino (Duva) to see if we were interested in the fight, and you know Dino didn’t have to call me to see if I was interested because he already knows that is the fight we have been wanting. So he already answered yes.

RC: Do you know who are the other opponents being considered as possible replacements?

KH: Actually I don’t know and I don’t care, because I am the best choice. I mean I am going to draw a crowd being that I am right here from NJ, so right there that is a plus. Trust me on this one, HBO is going to get their monies worth, because I am coming out there and I am going to put on a show. And afterwards, I guarantee they’ll want to give me a contract.

RC: Well it seems like the biggest fight of your career is in the hands of HBO, in your opinion what do you believe your chances are in this fight going through? And tell us why you feel that you are the best choice?

KH: I beat the #2 ranked guy (David Diaz 28-1) to his belt, who was an undefeated Olympian….

RC: (Cutting in) It’s funny you said that because extremely reliable sources have informed me that along with your name David Diaz is another opponent being looked at as a possible replacement, how does that make you feel that he might get a shot before you, when you already beat him?

KH: That’s bullshit if he gets a shot before me; they are scared to let me fight him because of my style. My thing is this, if you are going to be a champion and become great you have to fight and conquer all styles, if I am wrong then let me know.

RC: I agree, from what I understand HBO didn’t approve you before when your name was mentioned previously (when Cotto faced Abdulaev) about fighting facing Miguel…

KH: (Cutting in) my whole thing is this; I never blamed HBO because I never felt that it was HBO that was denying me. I thought it was just blamed on HBO, I think that Cotto’s handlers declined me and blamed it on HBO. If Bob Arum wanted me to fight Miguel Cotto… (Rhetorically) then guess what? I would have been on HBO. When Bob Arum wanted Kelson Pinto to fight him (Cotto), he got him on HBO, who the hell is Kelson Pinto? Who did he beat?

Okay so what he was undefeated and had a little win over Emanuel Augustus, which was a good win, don’t get me wrong. But so what, I stopped the #2 ranked challenger to Cotto’s belt when I beat David Diaz, who in fact beat Emanuel Augustus. So I beat a guy (Diaz) that beat Augustus, who was Pinto’s only credible win. Not to mention David Diaz was still an undefeated 1996 Olympian when I beat him. So that alone should have propelled me to a title shot against Cotto. In boxing, one big win can get you to a title shot, and that was the win that did it for me. Now they want to look past me and fight somebody I already beat? Come on now, what does that go to tell you?

Again who was Henry Bruseles? He got a shot against Floyd Mayweather on HBO. Come on now…. So I don’t really feel that it was HBO, I feel that it was Bob Arum because I am the riskiest fight for Cotto to face, because my name isn’t a household name, YET!

Altogether I gotta say I appreciate my name being mentioned in their conversations. I appreciate HBO and Top Rank for having me under consideration for this fight, but for them to want to give David Diaz a shot before me, that’s just crazy. If HBO and Top rank want to give the public a great fight between two young up and coming fighters, I am more than willing to sign on the dotted line.


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