By Nick Tylwalk
The Chumash Casino in Santa Ynez, California is the setting for the main event of tonight's edition of Friday Night Fights.
Joe Tessitore and Teddy Atlas are manning their customary ringside spots to call the action as Kendall Holt collides with Julio Diaz in a battle of former world title holders.
Middleweight champion Sergio Martinez is in the house for tonight's card. Atlas dreams of a fight between Manny Pacquiao and Martinez, but that seems a little too big for Pac-Man. This is boxing though, so never say never.
After a lengthy video package detailing the rough life and sometimes rocky career to Holt, we're ready to go. Holt is 26-4 with 14 KOs, but he's also been stopped three times. NFL running back Brandon Jacobs is one of the men in his fight night entourage.
Diaz is 38-6 with 27 KOs, and he said earlier that he believes he is stonger than Holt. After losing two straight bouts in 2009, Diaz has bounced back with two straight wins over the last 12 months.
Here we go!
Neither man finds the target with early jabs. Holt lands some quick repeated jabs and Diaz has to back off. Not a whole lot of action for about 30 seconds, but Holt changes that in a hurry with two serious right hands. Diaz smiles and tries to go to the body with left hooks. Now he tries to set up some right hands. Holt jabs and circles. Diaz comes forward but can't find the range. Holt goes to the body with a right. The two men come awkwardly together, cutting Diaz over the left eye, and the ref calls a halt to the action since it was an accidental head butt.
Tylwalk: 10-9 Holt
Atlas mentions that Diaz has been cut before and knows how to act. He looks to start faster as he leaps in for a left hook. Holt tries to counter as he backs away. Diaz doubles up on left hooks to the body. Holt just misses a counter right as Diaz jabs. Diaz tries more body hooks. Both men just miss on big right hands, but Diaz follows with a combo to the body. Holt tries to come over the top with the right again. He briefly comes forward but ends the round ducking and juking again.
Tylwalk: 10-9 Diaz
Holt tries taking th lead as he stalks forward. Diaz quickly throws the left hook to stop him. Atlas thinks Holt could stand in a little more and be fine. Diaz tries to hop forward for a three-punch combo and barely avoids a counter hook. Diaz is leading with his left hook often, which is somewhat risky. Holt is just a hair off on his counters. Diaz lands a solid left hook, but Holt responds with one of his own and Diaz is down. He tries to rise but the ref thinks he is too wobbly to continue, and it's all over.
The winner by TKO at 2:37 of Round 3, Kendall "Rated R" Holt.
Holt watches the replays with Tessitore and Atlas and says he thought Diaz got overconfident after landing his own hook. He dug in for a hook to the body and followed with one upstairs and it worked.
He also says he knew Diaz was tough and a former champion, so he had to stick to the game plan. Asked about the future, Holt calls out the Timothy Bradley-Amir Khan winner if it happens or anyone else near the top of the 140-pound division.
Holt admits that some of his outside business interests distracted him for a few years, but he concentrated on his boxing and it has paid off. Tessitore compares the walk that Holt took to a home run trot because he knew Diaz was done, though Kendall says he thought his opponent might shake it off and continue.
Get more great boxing news, recaps and analysis over at Boxing Watchers.