Ardreal “Bossman” Holmes relied on his superior height, boxing chops and movement to win a split decision that didn’t seem as close as the scores indicated against the aggressive Ismael “Maelo” Villarreal in a 10-round super welterweight contest Friday live on SHOWTIME from Stormont Vail Events Center in Topeka, Kan.
After he stood in the pocket and absorbed too many shots in his March win on SHOBOX® against Vernon Brown, the undefeated Holmes, an amateur standout, took a safer path to victory on Friday, or so he thought, tying up the aggressive Villarreal when he got too close and banking on his jab to pile up points.
Holmes of Flint, Mich., won by scores of 96-94, 97-93 and 94-96 to move his record to 13-0 with 5 KOs, while Villarreal (12-1, 8 KOs) became the 224th undefeated boxer to sustain his first loss on SHOBOX, a sign of the competitive matchmaking of the long-running series. Holmes’ jab was the difference as he out-landed Villarreal 50-8 and overall, 422 punches to 269 in a show of authority that wasn’t really reflected in the scorecards.
“I felt like he won two, three rounds,” Holmes said. “I don’t know where that one card came from. I feel like I dominated the fight and felt like he might have gotten two or three middle rounds, but that was the max. I felt like I out-jabbed him and out-fought him. I felt like this was a step-up from last time I fought, and this was a tougher fight. I’m only 13 fights in so I’m going to keep improving.”
The main event was a classic matador vs. bull contest as the six-foot-two Holmes kept his distance with his jab and right hand and Villarreal tried to bully his way inside with wide, looping shots. Both had success but Holmes seemed to control the pace of the fight and frustrate his hard-charging opponent.
Villarreal of the Bronx, N.Y., landed a flush right a minute into the sixth as Holmes was bullied into the corner, but Holmes timed Villarreal with an uppercut to back him up and comfortably fought on the inside when he chose to. Villarreal landed a short right a minute into the seventh, but Holmes danced away. At that point, the southpaw Holmes began to come forward and back up Villarreal with his jab.
Villarreal landed a hard right that briefly shook Holmes with a minute left in the eighth round. But he never followed up, and Villarreal, who had just boxed past the sixth round once before this fight, appeared to tire a bit down the stretch.
Holmes connected with a left hand in the final minute of the ninth, but Villarreal rammed home a right hand that seemed to stun Holmes as he lay against the ropes to end the frame. In the final round, Villarreal went for broke with a barrage of punches as Holmes covered up. After knocking out undefeated LeShawn Rodriguez last July in an upset, Villarreal couldn’t duplicate those heroics on Friday as Holmes boxed his way to victory.
In the co-feature, Edward Vazquez showed his superior conditioning and power as he dropped Misael Lopez and captured a split decision in a high-speed, spirited 10-round featherweight bout. Vazquez won by scores of 96-93, 95-94 and 94-95 to improve to 14-1 with 3 KOs as Lopez, in his third appearance on SHOBOX, lost for the second time on the unforgiving prospect series to run his record to 14-2 with 5 KOs. The lone blemish on Vazquez’s record came one year ago when he lost a controversial split-decision to undefeated former National Golden Gloves champion Raymond Ford. This time it was Vazquez getting the edge.
“I obviously thought [the scorecards] were wider than that,” said Vazquez of Fort Worth, Texas, who said he planned to run a half-marathon on Saturday. “I thought he was doing a little showboating and that doesn’t mean he’s doing anything effective. That’s what professional boxing is about is being effective on your punches and he didn’t do any of that. For the most part he was just throwing a few pitter-patter shots.”
The difference in scoring was the knockdown. Vazquez, 27, dropped Lopez with a winging left to the top of Lopez’s head that landed behind the ear midway through the second round. Lopez rose quickly but absorbed several more blows as the frame ended. Lopez didn’t think it was a knockdown.
“I didn’t feel the punch,” said Lopez, a Denver resident. “I thought it should have been ruled a slip. I didn’t feel anything. I started a little late, but I thought I out-classed him the rest of the way and just out-boxed him.”
It was an entertaining bout that pitted Vazquez’s aggressive, constant come-forward pressure against Lopez’s boxing ability in Lopez’s first fight with highly respected trainer Manny Robles. Every time Lopez seemed to flurry with punches, Vazquez would time his opponent with solid left hooks as the two often traded in the center of the ring.
“The left hook knockdown in the second was the key,” Vazquez said. “He was off-balance for sure, but I hit him with the left hook and that’s the game. In my last fight, the same thing happened, and they didn’t call it. So, you just never know.”
In the telecast opener, Kurt Scoby ran over John Mannu in their 140-pound bout, flooring the Australian four times and ending things at 1:40 of the second round with a left to the body for his sixth straight stoppage. Scoby improved to 11-0 with nine KOs, while Mannu, in his U.S. debut, fell to 7-1-1, becoming the 223rd undefeated fighter to suffer their first defeat on SHOBOX.
“I don’t get paid for overtime, so I had to get him out of there,” said Scoby, a former high school and college football standout running back who tried out with four NFL teams but never caught on. “The game plan was always to stay with the jab. If you have a strong team and you believe, you can do anything in this world. You know what I want next? I want to just go back home and be able to understand myself a little bit more. That’s my next opponent.”
It was a surprisingly dominant and quick performance for Scoby, who faced mostly light opposition before this bout but showed he’s ready for more advanced competition. Scoby, who weighed as much as 215 pounds when he played football, dropped Mannu with a straight right hand just seconds into the second round.
Moments later, another right hand from the muscular Scoby floored Mannu, who again rose quickly but wouldn’t remain upright for long as he was felled by another right hand. This time when he rose, he got up on shaky legs. The end came when Scoby, 27, unloaded a right to Mannu’s head and followed up with a dagger of a left to Mannu’s rib cage that dropped him for the fourth time, causing referee Jacob Villa to wave the bout off.
Scoby is a former high school and NCAA Division I football star who rushed for 2,206 yards and 35 touchdowns in his senior year for Monrovia High School in Duarte, Calif. He signed to play at Fresno State University as a criminal justice major and red-shirted his freshman season.
He transferred to Azusa Pacific University in the San Gabriel Valley southeast of Los Angeles where he rushed for 2,703 yards and 16 touchdowns from 2015-2017. Now he’s producing numbers in boxing that may soon rival his dominance in football. His trainers call him the “11-dollar man” because at the height of the pandemic he bought an $11 one-way economy airline ticket from California to New York City where he walked into the famed Gleason’s Gym to focus on boxing.
Tonight’s SHOBOX tripleheader will re-air on Monday, February 20 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on SHOWTIME EXTREME®.
The card was promoted by Lou DiBella’s DiBella Entertainment.
International Boxing Hall of Famer Barry Tompkins called all the blow-by-blow action for SHOBOX with fellow Hall of Famer Steve Farhood joining the team remotely as the unofficial scorer. Former junior middleweight world champion Raul Marquez and veteran combat sports reporter and MORNING KOMBAT co-host Brian Campbell served as ringside analysts. The executive producer of SHOBOX: The New Generation was Gordon Hall with Richard Gaughan producing and Rick Phillips directing.