Former junior welterweight titleholder Kendall Holt injected some much-needed momentum into his stagnating career with an impressive third-round TKO of former two-time lightweight beltholder Julio Diaz in the main event of a Friday Night Fights card in Santa Ynez, Calif., on Friday.
Holt (27-4, 15 knockouts), who controlled the action with footwork and quick right hands in the first two rounds, connected with a body-to-head left hook combination that dropped Diaz on his back near the end of the third round. Diaz (38-7, 27 KOs), who sustained a nasty cut over his left eye from an accidental head clash in the first round, beat the count but was on clearly wobbly legs when referee Marcos Rosales waved the fight off at 2:30 of the round.
The scheduled 10-round junior welterweight bout was a must-win opportunity for both Holt and Diaz as both veterans were only two bouts removed from back-to-back losses.
Holt, 29, who was narrowly out-pointed by Timothy Bradley in April of 2009 and then (following a brief stint in jail) was stopped by Kaizer Mabuza last February, called out Bradley and Amir Khan following the victory.
Diaz, 31, was stopped by Rolando Reyes in April of 2009 and then out-pointed by Victor Cayo in July of 2009, may have fought in his last high-profile bout.
In the ESPN2-televised co-feature, Jonathan Gonzalez (13-0, 13 KOs), a 21-year-old junior middleweight prospect from Puerto Rico, scored a seventh-round stoppage of Rudy Cisneros (12-3, 11 KOs) when the 29-year-old Chicago native's corner tossed in the towel midway through the round.
Cisneros was game throughout the bout but Gonzalez imposed his greater talent, size and power on the former prospect in rounds six and seven. The fight was stopped with Cisneros being pressed and worked over along the ropes. There were no knockdowns.