“I believe now more than ever that I am on a quest to be world champion.”
Over the weekend, Boxingtalk.com spoke with once beaten prospect turn contender Kendall “Rated-R” Holt 19-1(12) to get his thoughts on his recent victory over hard hitting, Columbian born former world title challenger Jamie Rangel of Miami, FL. A bout in which Holt, of Patterson, NJ had to overcome a first round knock down, and was forced to go the twelve round distance for the first time in his career to pick up the vacant WBO Light Welterweight Intercontinental title. In this one on one exclusive, we discuss everything from his victory, his future plans and his training with Jr. Welterweight king Kostya Tszyu.
RC: Congrats on picking up the WBO Light Welterweight Intercontinental championship this past Friday night by winning a split decision over Jamie Rangel. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about your performance?
KH: Smart boxing! Thanks to my good friend Paulie Malignaggi, who called me up and told me that I should stick to smart boxing. Before the fight, he called me up and reminded me to keep on boxing smart, and that is what won the fight for me, smart boxing.
RC: With Malignaggi placing a call to your before the fight, was that really a big factor in your victory?
KH: Yeah man, my whole thing going into this fight as first was like Zab (Judah) knocked this dude out, (David) Diaz knocked him out, and I said to myself I know I can get him too. But the only thing is, I was looking for the counter. Most of the people I fought came right at me and they over commit themselves, or with like a slow punch, or come to close to me without a jab or whatever, and I just counter. And I thought I was just going to be able to counter him with that right uppercut and take him right out. But in this fight he never over committed himself. Like Teddy Atlas was saying during the fight, I was looking for help from him (Rangel) and he never gave me that help so I just kept boxing.
RC: If you had to give yourself a grade, how would you rate your performance overall?
KH: I give myself a “C+” being that I didn’t take a lot of risk in the fight. I didn’t take one risk in the fight, well the one risk that I did take in the fight is when I got dropped going after him. But most of the fight I didn’t take any risk, I just kept boxing, which makes the fight a little easier, you get hit less.
Then when I go home and watch my own tapes I feel like I should get in there and mix it up more. When I watch myself, I look at myself as an entertainer, and I ask myself why don’t I sit there ant throw more combinations? I look at myself on tape and say that is not me, that is how I look at myself to help me figure out what I should be doing more of.
RC: After seeing the fight over, what do you feel you would have liked to have down differently without putting yourself at as much risk and still been as successful or possibly ended things early?
KH: I could have thrown more combinations, that is what I have been working on. But they are still not coming out the right way; they are still not coming out in the fight like I want to. But I have been working on it, by sparring a lot more than I use to.
RC: Going into this fight you were rated #9 in the WBO (#11 on Boxingtalk), and Mohamed Abdulaev the previous holder of the title you just won is currently #5. After his fight with WBO Champ Miguel Cotto on June 11th he will either go up or down and more than likely you should land somewhere in the top five. My question is what is next for you after coming off such a big win so early on in your career?
KH: I don’t know. I got to keep in mind that I am only 23 and I still have a lot to learn. I am just taking steps; I am just going to keep pushing forward to make it to the top. I am taking two weeks off and I will be back in the gym, I wanted to go back to the gym on Monday just in case anything happens with the Cotto-Abdulaev fight. If I get the call I can just jump right in there, or if anything happen in the Vivian Harris-Carlos Maussa fight or if anybody else fall out I can just jump right in there.
RC: You just mentioned that you are only 23 which is still very young. Can all of this be too soon for you? I mean David Diaz was ranked #2, and you stopped him in eight, Jamie Rangel was a very formidable opponent for someone such as yourself so early on in your career which his big punching ability, do you plan on taking any easy fights soon, or is the plan to get right back into the swing of things with another tough fight?
KH: I just want to keep going forward. If I get back into the swing of things that is fine. If I get a big fight by the end of the year that will be good, but taking easy fights right now is not going to help me progress any further than I am any faster. Whoever Dino (Duva) gets for me to fight, as long as I do well and I perform to the best of my ability I am sure I am going to keep moving forward. So whoever he lines up next is it. I would like to get another stepping stone title. Maybe the NABA, or NABF until I reach that level, because I realized after sparring with (Kostya) Tszyu, that next level is really a next level. There is really another level, and right now I am not on that same lever he is on. So I would take as many fights as I need until I am ready to compete on that level.
RC: When and for how long ago did you work with Tszyu?
KH: For two weeks in the beginning of May.
RC: What was that experience like?
KH: Like I said it is just another level of fighting, a whole other level. When you think you are ready to take the next step, you have to spar with somebody at that next level to understand if you really are ready for that level. It is still sparring, and it still seems really really rough. You can tell that the guy is real strong, real smart and a real professional. The thing about Tszyu is he works real, real hard. He warms up an hour before he even spars. Then he spars and then he does something else after he spars, so you know the guy is real professional. In talking to him, he was telling me he is really strong because he is 35 and I am only 23, so I realized that taking that next step I am going to be dealing with guys that are naturally bigger than me because of their age, that is why I say I am only 23 but I still can take my time.
RC: Was there ever a point where you can just sit down and talk to him about training and get advice from him?
KH: Yeah we spoke a lot. Many of the things I saw him doing I asked him about. I asked him questions about how far does he run, and things about his training because I always wanted to be in camp and see what a world champion does. I never had that experience and that was a great thing for me. And one of the best things that he and his trainer told me was that you have to improve every training session. They told me that I should try and improve on every thing I do because there is no other way to the top other than hard work.
RC: Do you feel as if the training with the division’s top dog was a big boost of inspiration? Do you feel it helped you going into your last fight against Jamie Rangel?
KH: I think training with him, being that he applied a lot of pressure, he threw a lot of punches at me, talked to me and with the fact that it was only 30 seconds of rest, it prepared me mentally. And that is even though we only did four rounds of sparring, his trainer was telling me that going four rounds with Tszyu with only 30 seconds break is like going ten rounds with someone on my level.
RC: I know you mentioned to me earlier that you guys will be prepared if anything comes up in the next month or so, but have you and your promoter discussed a date or month in which you will be officially fighting again?
KH: We are looking for something in late August or early September.
RC: Now that you have a piece of gold around your waste has that inspired you any? Was has that done for you in terms of motivation?
KH: It was one of the things I have always wanted. I always wanted to be known as the champion. And I know it is not the big one, but just having one of the stepping stone titles, it makes you want to work harder.
RC: What was it like going past eight rounds for the first time in your career?
KH: In the corner when I was waiting for the bell to ring, and I saw the round card girl walk by and the card said 9th round, I smiled to myself and said now I am in un-chartered waters, but you know it was test for me. All of the champions and greats one, everybody has been at least ten. That is when you know you are on the contender level and on a championship caliber, when you are going ten and twelve rounds. So I have made a mental note that I have been eight rounds and now twelve rounds and I believe now more than ever that I am on a quest to be world champion.
RC: Is there anything else that you would like to say in closing to your fans out there around the world and on Boxingtalk.com?
KH: I told them after that one loss, don’t count me out because I am not going anywhere and I am going for the long haul.
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