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Ardreal Holmes: It’s only 13 fights, I’m going to keep improving

Ardreal “Bossman” Holmes relied on his superior height, boxing ability and movement to win a split decision that didn’t look as close as the scores indicated against the aggressive Ismael “Maelo” Villarreal in a 10-round super welterweight contest on Friday Live Showtime from the Stormont Vail Event Center in Topeka, Kan.

After staying in the pocket and absorbing too many shots in his March ShoBox victory over Vernon Brown, the undefeated Holmes, an amateur standout, took a more confident route to victory on Friday, or so he thought, tying aggressive Villarreal when he got too close and relied on his jab to rack up the points.

Holmes of Flint, Michigan won by scores of 96-94, 97-93 and 94-96 to bring his record to 13-0 with 5 KOs, while Villarreal (12-1, 8 KOs) became the 224th boxer undefeated sustaining his first loss on ShoBox, a sign of the long-running series’ competitive matchmaking. Holmes’ jab was the difference as he outscored 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 card came from. I feel like I dominated the fight and I felt like he got two or three middle rounds, but that was as good as it gets. I felt like I beat it and beat it. I felt like this was a step up from the last time I fought, and this was a tougher fight. It’s only 13 fights, so I’ll keep improving.

The main event was a classic contest between matadors and bulls, with the six-foot-tall Holmes keeping his distance with his jab and right hand and Villarreal trying to fight their way inside with wide, tight shots. ring. Both were successful, but Holmes seemed to be controlling the pace of the fight and frustrating his tough opponent.

Villarreal of the Bronx, NY got a flush just a minute into the sixth as Holmes was forced into a corner, but Holmes timed Villarreal with an uppercut to back it up and fought comfortably inside when he chose to. Villarreal landed a short right foot a minute after the seventh, but Holmes danced away. At that point, the southpaw Holmes started to come forward and support Villarreal with his jab.

Villarreal landed a hard right that shook Holmes briefly with a minute left in round eight. But he never followed through, and Villarreal, who had just gone past round six once before this encounter, seemed 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 appeared to stun Holmes as he lay back against the ropes to end the frame. In the final round, Villarreal went for broke with a flurry of punches as Holmes covered.

After knocking out undefeated LeShawn Rodriguez last July in an upset, Villarreal failed to repeat that heroism on Friday as Holmes battled his way to victory.

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