I’m scooping myself a little here by posting this Showtime poll of boxing writers before I publish my own preview and prediction of Saturday night’s junior welterweight fight between Timothy Bradley and Kendall Holt, because I participated in it. (I’d have posted my Bradley-Holt rundown tonight if not for the breaking news on the heavyweight fight between Wladimir Klitschko and David Haye. It’ll go up tomorrow, and it’ll be more in-depth than what I gave Showtime.)
I’m in the minority for picking Holt, and I knew I’d be, but I didn’t expect such a landslide. Of note, though, is that Bradley is only the slight betting favorite. See how all the writers picked with the full news release after the jump.
HOW THEY PICK ‘EM: EXPERTS OVERWHELMINGLY
EXPECT BRADLEY TO WIN — IN ABSOLUTE SQUEAKER
~ SATURDAY, APRIL 4, 2009, LIVE AT 10:45 p.m. ET/PT ON SHOWTIME® ~
NEW YORK (April 1, 2009)–If the media members who participated in the SHOWTIME Media Prediction Poll have called it correctly then Timothy Bradley’s going to walk away victorious over Kendall Holt Saturday on SHOWTIME. But it will it be close.
Bradley, the World Boxing Council (WBC) champion, and his World Boxing Organization (WBO) counterpart Holt clash in an eagerly awaited 140-pound world title unification showdown from the Bell Centre in Montreal, Canada, 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®.
The majority of those who participated in a SHOWTIME Media Prediction Poll not only could not state with conviction who would win, but how the tough, close fight would play out. Several possible scenarios and story lines were predicted.
One thing almost all the experts agreed on: This will not be a waltz.
Bradley was a popular, landslide winner in the Poll, garnering 39 of the 46 predictions (with one draw). Three others view what will be an exciting fight too close to call.
The major sports books and gambling websites agree with the media as Bradley is a slight favorite on most sports betting websites. At sportsbook.com, the money line is minus 150 for Bradley and plus 120 for Holt.
Viewers will get their chance to weigh-in as well. At the top of the telecast and during the opening fight of the night, SHOWTIME will pose the questions for fans to text in: What will be the key factor in Bradley vs. Holt? 1. Bradley’s speed; 2. Bradley’s lack of one-punch power; 3. Holt’s power or; 4. Holt’s suspect chin?
Here’s how the media called the world title unification 12-round Bradley-Holt match:
Kevin Iole, Yahoo.com (Bradley): “The fight is a toss-up, but I’ll go with the more consistent fighter. Bradley doesn’t have the same reputation as Holt, but he deserves a lot of respect for going to the U.K. and taking the title from Junior Witter. Bradley will have to avoid getting into a slugfest. If he does, he should pull out a close decision.”
Matt Richardson, Fightnews.com, (Bradley): “Bradley has the makings of a superstar and has already beaten a few opponents he shouldn’t have. Holt is always exciting but his style is too inconsistent and his chin too unreliable. Bradley wins a decision to establish the clear-cut No. 1 contender at 140.”
Gus Johnson, Host and Play-By-Play, SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING: “We’ve got two very hungry fighters that understand this is the fight that can propel them to the upper echelon of their division. They are at the peak of their careers and they are really going to fight hard. I won’t make a prediction on who’s going to win. That’s not my thing, but I can predict that this will be a brutal fight filled with courage, skill and some considerable punching power. For two guys who come from humble beginnings, this is showtime for them. This is big.”
Chris Mannix, Sports Illustrated, (Bradley): “The enormous X-factor in this fight is the fighters’ ability to overcome the magnitude of the moment. A shot at Ricky Hatton or Manny Pacquiao (and the potential millions that come with it) probably seemed like a pipe dream to Bradley and Holt two years ago but the winner will emerge as a strong candidate to face one, or perhaps both, next year. Holt has never fought on this big a stage before while last year Bradley walked into Junior Witter’s raucous backyard and won. In an evenly matched fight, that’s the difference. Bradley by split decision.”
Robert Morales, Los Angeles Daily News/Long Beach Press Telegram, (Bradley): “I expect a good fight but Bradley is extremely focused, and I think this is Bradley’s time. He will outbox Holt over 12 rounds.”
Al Bernstein, expert analyst SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING: “This is an intriguing fight because we have a ‘steady as she goes,’ fundamentally sound fighter in Bradley against a risk taking and little more free swinging Holt. That said, this match may boil down to who wins the battle of the jab. Both men have excellent jabs and in each case it sets up power punches well. I expect a hard fought and very close fight.”
Dan Rafael, ESPN.com (Bradley): “Bradley’s overall speed, power and chin will carry the day. I think he stops Holt around the ninth.”
Steve Kim, MaxBoxing.com, (Bradley): “This fight is a toss-up, but Bradley’s conditioning and chin will win out in what will be a very closely contested 12-round decision.”
Carlos Arias, Orange County Register, (Bradley): “Holt hits like a ton of bricks, but Bradley’s speed will be the difference and allow him to pile up the points and win a decision.”
George Willis, New York Post (Holt): “Holt will use his boxing skills and quickness to win by decision.”
Johnny FaIgoust, USA Today, (Bradley): “Bradley by decision. He is the better boxer of the two and can use Holt’s own aggression work against himself.”
T.K. Stewart, BoxingScene.com, (Bradley): “It’s a close, explosive and fiercely contested fight in the first few rounds. However, barring a quick stoppage, I see Bradley imposing his strength and skills to gradually grind Holt down. The most likely outcome I envision is Bradley winning by a unanimous decision.”
Lyle Fitzsimmons, The Sports Network/SportsNetwork.com (Bradley): “Although he’s still young and has largely flown under the radar compared to Holt and the headlines he’s made in the past year or two, Bradley has the single best win of the two men — defeating Junior Witter on the road — and has all the skills to add a few more big ones as he gains recognition. I think he’ll use superior technique to control most rounds and be able to escape whatever adversity Holt causes from time to time. Call it 116-112 for Bradley.”
Paul Upham, SecondsOut.com, (Bradley): “Another great matchup that boxing needs. There are valid reasons to tip either man to win. In a close battle, Bradley’s superior work rate sees him secure a close points win over the distance.”
Karyn Bryant, ringside reporter, SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING: Bradley-Holt will be a real treat for the fans. I’m expecting a high-intensity match-up, where we’ll see both boxing and brawling. It’s a close call, but in the end, the only safe bet is that both men will look like they’ve been through a fire.”
Jim Gray, ringside reporter, SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING, (Bradley): “I like Bradley. He has been waiting on this since last fall and he is ready.”
James Slater, EastsideBoxing.com, (Bradley): “Bradley captures a close, unanimous decision in what will turn out to be something of a chess match. Both ‘Desert Storm’ and ‘Rated R’ are fine boxers and I think we’ll see both using their silky skills — as opposed to coming out and looking for the KO. Bradley, a superbly conditioned athlete, wins after 12 rounds of class boxing primarily for three reasons – he’s younger, faster and, I believe, hungrier.”
Michael Swann, BoxingScene.com, (Bradley): “It’s easy to envision scenarios with either Bradley or Holt as the winner of this unification bout. In the final analysis however, Holt may be the flashier of the two but Bradley is by far the more consistent. Bradley wins by TKO 11 after trailing early on points.”
Ramon Aranda, 411mania.com (Bradley): “This is a pick ’em fight with Holt having the physical advantages while Bradley usually seems like the better prepared fighte
r. I see Holt having the upper hand in the early going with Bradley coming on strong in the late rounds to eke out a majority decision.”
Michael Rosenthal, Ringtv.com, (Holt): “Holt and Bradley have comparable skills but the edge goes to Holt because he has more experience in big fights. He wins a close decision.”
Tim Starks, QueensburyRules.com, (Holt): “In all the categories that make a fighter what he is, Bradley gets solid ‘B’s’ across the chart, while Holt has a bunch of ‘A’s’ and a couple ‘C’s.’ Some are hyping Bradley as the next big thing, and he may be big one day. But the more experienced Holt is just as fresh and, when focused, is more dangerous than the distracted and aging Junior Witter, whom Bradley beat to thrust himself into the limelight. I think Holt takes a close decision, maybe after hitting the deck once or twice. Like Holt said during a trash talk session, ‘it IS whether you get back up again.’ ”
Jack Obermayer, Boxing Digest, (Bradley): “Bradley is versatile, quick, and smart. Holt often times shuts down, and when he does try to engage, Bradley should be able to out-slick him en route to a unanimous decision.”
Daxx Kahn, SaddoBoxing.com (Bradley): “This is an intriguing matchup between two talented young 140-pounders. Neither is a particularly hard puncher, so Holt gets the advantage there. But Bradley gets the edge as an all-around boxer. His skills have improved greatly over the last year and it showed in his title defense against Edner Cherry. That improvement, along with a sturdier chin, are the differences. Bradley wins a unanimous decision.”
Marc Abrams, 15rounds.com, (Bradley): “In what is a very interesting and even fight on paper, I see Bradley escaping with a close, even controversial split decision. Holt will bring
the power but Bradley will bring the consistency and be just constant enough to eke out a win.”
Matt Yanofsky, 15rounds.Com/Primer Round Magazine, (Holt): “While I do like Bradley’s boxing abilities, I am unsure of his ability to deal with adversity. While it is extremely impressive Bradley pulled out a decision in Junior Witter’s backyard, nothing can compare to what Holt had to go through in Colombia (where he was badly robbed of a title while literally being hit with beer bottles). I was also highly impressed with Holt being able to come off the canvas twice to KO Ricardo Torres and his most recent victory over undefeated Demetrius Hopkins. Holt takes it by decision.”
German Villasenor, MaxBoxing.com, (Bradley) “They are about the same height, with Holt being slightly taller, and both possess good power. But the more polished of the two seems to be Bradley, who I see him staging traps, luring the slightly wilder Holt into them, and chipping away to a late-round stoppage in a very interesting matchup of smarts and wills.”
Matt Knowles, 411mania.com, (Bradley): “Holt has more experience at the world-class level, but Bradley has shown steady progress and improvement with each passing fight. The first few rounds should be give-and-take with plenty of fireworks, but Bradley’s conditioning and athleticism will be the key factors in the mid-to-late rounds as he goes on to a clear-cut unanimous decision.”
Thomas Marriott, 15Rounds.com, (Bradley): “A close fight on paper will come down to who has the better chin and willpower, which is Bradley. Holt is a talented fighter, but he doesn’t like to be pressed. Unlike his last few fights (Ben Tackie, Demetrius Hopkins, Mike Arnaoutis), Bradley will force the action. Expect something like a lesser version of the Ricardo Torres fights as far as pressure goes. I see Holt avoiding exchanges later in the fight when he has expended his energy, leading to a unanimous decision in the 116-112 area.”
Brett Conway, MaxBoxing.com, (Bradley): “Bradley should win by eighth- or ninth- round knockout. His boxing skills are the difference, particularly his jab. He should be able to control the fight with it and, as the bout wears on, use it to set up power shots to hurt Holt. Holt, on the other hand, has a puncher’s chance, but he hasn’t shown the steadiness needed to reach the top level of the division, which means getting through Bradley. He faded late against Torres in their first bout and got knocked down twice in the rematch before winning by knockout, and at times looked uninspiring against Hopkins. To me, this all points to a Bradley KO victory.”
Dennis Bernstein, Pound4Pound.com, (Holt): “Bradley’s inexperience will catch up with him on this night. A lone signature win over Junior Witter isn’t enough of a body of work to take down Holt. In a fight that promises to have a lot of action, Holt wins by ninth-round TKO.
Dan Hernandez, RingSideReport.com/Ringleaderfightnews.com, (Bradley): ‘The Desert Storm’ should maintain his perfect record with a unanimous decision. Neither fighter is known for knockout punching power but Bradley has tremendous speed, good defense and is dedicated to winning. This has all the makings of an enjoyable encounter.”
Alden Chodash, AldenBoxing.com/FightFan.com (Bradley): “Holt, the better boxer, should have an advantage at long range as he’s shown the ability to win from a distance as well as in close. However, how close he’ll be comfortable at against Bradley, who has startling if not explosive power, is a question. One, we’ll most likely find the answer to early as both fighters, intent to prove their points, will mostly likely tee-off against each other. Although Bradley’s punching power might not be comparable to that of Ricardo Torres, who’s had no problem leaving an imprint on Holt in their two controversial affairs, he can certainly hurt Holt who’s been down many times. Holt has the ability to outbox Bradley, but Bradley’s technically sound boxing skills should put him in range to hurt Kendall and I think eventually stop him in the late rounds.”
Igor Frank, Burbank (Calif.) Times, (Bradley): “Holt has been involved in one of the most exciting one-round fights that I have ever seen live. Last May after being down twice, Holt knocked out Ricardo Torres cold to claim the WBO crown. Holt has more experience on a world stage and has advantages in reach (five inches) and height (three inches). Holt is very fast and has a good pop on his punches, but he is not consistent. Bradley, on the other hand, is an undefeated fighter, who is just as fast, has power in both hands and who has excellent conditioning. Bradley seems to get stronger as a fight goes on. I believe he will find a way to out work and outsmart Holt down the stretch and triumph by unanimous decision.
Diane Bennett, www.DiamondBoxing.com, (Bradley): “Look for the focused Bradley to keep his unbeaten record in order. Bradley will overcome the size and reach disadvantage, outworking Holt to a decision victory.”
David Bitar, Primer Round Magazine, (Bradley): “Bradley will be able to impose his physical strength on the taller, leaner Holt, with this ability to box and apply pressure. Holt’s shown vulnerabilities in his chin and stamina in previous fights, which I see Bradley taking advantage of and ultimately winning a clear decision.”
Chris Strait, Stick and Move w/ Chris and Chris at stickandmoveshow.com (Bradley): “Bradley has just the right tools to frustrate Holt and get to him late. Instead of hoping for a big punch, which has been the only way to defeat Holt, Bradley won’t be deterred by losing the early rounds and will put in the body work and pressure attack that will drain and frustrate Holt as the rounds progress. Eventually, Bradley will take over, as he did with Junior Witter. I can see Holt’s boxing skills carrying him to victory, but he’d have to hurt Bradley early to get his respect and I don’t see that happening. Bradley wins by majority decision or late-round TKO.”
Ryan Kaye, 411mania.com, (Bradley): “This fight all depends on the Holt that shows up. Will it be the Holt that showed up against Ricardo Torres in their rematch? Or the Holt that
bored his way through the distance with Ben Tackie? We know what we’ll get from Bradley — a good, solid fight plan with punches in bunches and a solid defense. It’s that consistency that makes me favor Bradley ever so slightly but this is not a solid decision and could go either way.”
Ernest Gabion, MaxBoxing.com, (Bradley): “The pressure ‘Desert Storm’ applies will be too much and he will win a unanimous decision.”
Lee Bellfield, SaddoBoxing.com, (Bradley): “Interesting matchup. Holt is best known for his wars with Torres. In the UK, Bradley is best known for dethroning Junior Witter. The matchup obviously plays second fiddle to Ricky Hatton-Manny Pacquiao but goes a long way to seeing who’s one of the top dogs in the division. An unbeaten man doesn’t know how to lose and Bradley will find a way to win over the 12-round distance.”
Mario Serrano, Primer Round Boxing Magazine, (Bradley): “In a helluva fight, Bradley pulls out a split decision.”
David Duenez, Therewillbebloodfightshow.com, (Bradley): “Holt sometimes tends to get too careless and fights with more raw emotions then controlled emotions. Bradley will have to control the latter rounds with his jab and straight, but if he does he will win decision.”
Jay Monte, TruBoxingFan.com (Bradley): “You can toss a coin in this fight and it still may be a contested ending. Both have the skills to beat his opponent so it will be the one with the better strategy that will pull out a victory. Because he is very elusive, I give the slight edge to Bradley to win a split decision.”
Juan E. Brignone, Notifight.com (Bradley): “It’s a very competitive fight and a unification the fans are waiting for. It will be a close fight where Bradley’s strategy will make the difference en route to winning a decision.”
George Elsasser, BraggingrightsCorner.Com, (Holt): “Tough call on paper, but Holt has proven himself against better caliber. I can only give Bradley the proverbial ‘puncher’s chance.’ Holt takes a decision.”
Jack Hirsch, Boxing News, (Bradley): “Bradley should win clearly by decision. He is much more consistent than Holt, who performs in flashes of brilliance, but can be erratic as well.”
Scott Swerbinsky, Pound 4 Pound Apparel Internet Radio (Bradley): Bradley wins –too much skill and speed.”
Oscar Borras, 20 de Mayo, (Bradley): “No doubt that Holt is a great fighter but Bradley will win a decision due to his superior boxing skills.”
Dennis Taylor, The Ringside Boxing Show at www.ringsideboxingshow.com, (Bradley): “The skills he demonstrated against Junior Witter will translate well against Holt, and the punching power of the ‘Desert Storm’ should produce at least one knockdown. Bradley wins a very close fight.”
Scoop Malinowski, BoxingInsider.com (Double Knockout): “Holt’s fights are always nuts. Bradley seems like the more solid, complete and less vulnerable fighter but Holt most definitely has the firepower and flash to do major damage. This is an excellent unification battle that could go either way. I have to slightly favor Bradley, but Holt is extremely dangerous at all times. We’re long overdue for one of these — I’ll go for the double-knockout!”