MONTREAL, Quebec – Timothy Bradley allowed himself a wry smile as he contemplated the reactions of his putatitve rivals as they watched Saturday night’s events at the Bell Centre unfold.

When Kendall Holt knocked him tuchus over teakettle two minutes into the fight, Bradley could visualize Manny Pacquiao, Ricky Hatton, Juan Urango, Nate Campbell, Randall Bailey and Pretty Boy Floyd Mayweather all sitting up and taking notice. And when they saw Holt drop him again with half a minute left in the fight, they probably all simultaneously started looking for Gary Shaw’s phone number.

“Everybody will look at those two knockdowns and they’ll all be chasing me now,” said Bradley. “But what they don’t realize is just how hard Kendall Holt hits.”

Bradley not only got up off the floor after the two bookend knockdowns, but he won nearly every minute of the intervening ten rounds in between, posting a unanimous decision in Saturday night’s title unification bout to add Holt’s WBO championship to the WBC title he already owned.

As anticipated, Bradley was the aggressor for most of the evening. What had not been quite as predictable was Holt’s reticence to mix it up, and apart from the devastating left hook with which he flattened Bradley in the opening stanza, he spent most of the night inexplicably playing a waiting game while the fight inexorably slipped from his grasp.

Bradley had done his best to win over the Bell Centre crowd by arriving in the ring with him and his cornermen decked out in the colors of the hometown Canadiens, and had started with a flourish before dropping his guard and getting himself decked before the first round was half over. After Bradley landed a two-punch combination he seemed to stand back to admire the result, leaving himself wide open for the left hook Holt crashed against his jaw.

Bradley, who had never been down before, immediately bounced back up, but then heeded the warning of trainer Joel Diaz and went down to his knee to take the remainder of referee Michael Griffin’s 8-count.

For the remainder of the round, and for nearly all of the ensuing eleven, Bradley remained the aggressor, while Holt  seemed reluctant to engage and was consistently beaten to the punch. Bradley was not only beating him with the jab but tattooing him to the body, and while none of the punches seemed to particularly bother Holt, they did serve to build up a tidy lead on the scorecards. 

Holt scored his second knockdown with less than half a minute to go, and it didn’t have nearly the concussive effect of the first. He appeared to barely graze Bradley, and while the latter didn’t go all the way down, he did right himself by using his right glove to keep from hitting the floor, and Griffin correctly ruled it a knockdown.

Just as Bradley had never previously been down, Holt had never before been on the losing end of a decision, but there was little doubt in the readings of Saturday night’s verdict. Richard De Carufel and John Woodburn both had Bradley winning by 115-111 scores, while Raul Nieves had it incrementally closer at 114-112. An elated Bradley sank to his knees in celebration, while Holt’s face betrayed a crestfallen countenance.

The new double-champion improved to 24-0, while a disappointed Holt fell to 25-3.

“I’m disappointed,” said Holt. “I’m disappointed in myself. I let my fans down, and I let my corner down. I gave away the middle rounds with lack of work.”

Holt voiced hope for a rematch, but, particularly given his protracted display of indolence, he didn’t sound like a man who held out much hope for that possibility. An hour later, a butterfly covered the small nick above his right eye as he headed out the Bell Centre door toward the waiting ambulance, but it was clear that most of the damage done to Kendall Holt had been to his pride.

After offering his congratulations, Holt made a speedy exit for the trip to the hospital, but that development was not as alarming as it might have appeared on the surface. Rather, it reflected attorney Pat English’s understanding of the Quebecois medical facilities.

“He only needs a couple of stitches,” explained attorney Pat English, “but if we take him over in the ambulance they’ll take him right away. If we show up at the emergency room he’ll have to wait six hours.”

The unification bout, which concluded at nearly 1 am, capped an essentially unabated 13-hour orgy of boxing in the Canadian city, which had commenced with a noontime card across town at Le Casino du Montreal. (Jean Pascal, the Quebec-based former title challenger from Haiti, scored a sixth-round KO of Argentina’s Efrain Nievas in the main event.)

Despite crosstown competition and the presence of two Americans not widely known to the locals in the main event, an enthusiastic crowd of 7,513 materialized at the Bell Centre, reaffirming its position as one of the hottest boxing venues in North America, circa 2009.

The co-feature saw the return of California-based Mexican super-middle Librado Andrade to familiar haunts. Andrade (28-2), who came within seconds of taking out IBF champion Lucien Bute in the same ring last October, had protested referee Marlon Wright’s controversial handling of the final round of that bout. While the protest didn’t succeed in getting Andrade the immediate rematch he had requested, it did get him a spot in an IBF eliminator against former European champion Vitali Tsypko, and the Quebecois crowd saluted Andrade’s prior gallantry by cheering him on to unanimous victory, as he dropped Tsypko (22-3) in the second and seventh rounds on the way to a unanimous decision.

Andrade had penetrated Tsypko’s southpaw defense to deck him with a right hand in the second, and nailed him with sparkling right to the chin to put the Ukrainian down again in the seventh. And when he wasn’t knocking his foe down, Andrade maintained a constant pressure that never allowed his foe to mount a significant attack of his own.

It was a home game for Andrade, who now trains in Montreal under Howard Grant, the first to recognize this was Bute, who raced from his ringside seat to offer his former rival a fist-bump even before the scorecards (Klaus Greisel and  George Hill 117-109; Sylvain LeBland 120-106) had been totaled.

“This is a great city, a great country, with beautiful people who support boxing,” said Andrade, who ostensibly earned himself a rematch with Bute with the win.

(That Andrade will get another crack at the title is a given; that Bute will still be the holder is somewhat problematical. The Romanian-born champion is reportedly contemplating abdication of the IBF belt, presumably to facilitate a more luctrative bout against one of the other 168-pound champions (read Mikkel Kessler or the Carl Froch-Jermain Taylor winner), but Bute’s market value absence of a championship claim remains debatable.)

Andrade improved to 28-2 with the win, while Tsypko, who had previously lost to Frenchman Jackson Chanet and former champ Jeff Lacy, fell to 22-3.

Another world title-holder, WBC light-heavyweight champ Adrian Diaconu (26-0), wound up performing on the undercard, where he outpointed local journeyman David Whitthom (10-8-1) in an unimpressive snoozer. Diaconu had been scheduled to defend against Italian Silvio Branco next Friday night in Italy, but when the cancellation of its main event caused that card to be scrapped, Diaconu’s handlers elected to keep him busy by adding him to the Montreal card in an over-the-weight 8-rounder. Had he just stayed in Europe and sparred Saturday night he’d have gotten as much activity, and it might even have been more entertaining.

We’ve evidently spent entirely too much time in the Home of the Habs this winter; even the undercard performers are starting to look familiar:

Paul Clavette (15-2-1), the Longuiel middleweight who TKO’d Jacques LeMaire(6-8) in four Saturday night, is the same Paul Clavette who was stopped by Ronald Hearns on last autumn’s ShoBox card here. Junior featherweight Sebastian Gauthier (17-1), who remained unbeaten by knocking out Martin Huppe (1-11) at 1:23 of the fourth, and Charlesbourg featherweight Pier Olivier Cote  (6-0), who floored 7-7 Mexican Luis Acevedo four times en route to a second-round TKO, had also both boxed in supporting bouts on the Bute-Andrade card.

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BELL CENTRE, MONTREAL, QUEBEC

APRIL 4, 2009

JUNIOR WELTERWEIGHTS: Timothy Bradley, 138 ½, Palm Springs, Calif. dec. Kendall Holt, 140, Paterson, N.J. (12) (Retains WBC title; wins WBO title)

CRUISERWEIGHTS: Adrian Diaconu, 186, Ploesti-Prahova, Romania dec. David Whittom, 186 ½, Quebec City, Que. (8)

SUPER MIDDLEWEIGHTS: Librado Andrade 167, Guanajuato, Mexico dec.  Vitali Tsypko 167 1/4, Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine (12) (IBF eliminator)

Paul Clavette, 161 1/4, Longueil, Que. TKO’d Jacques Lemaire, 163 1/2, Montreal (4)

LIGHTWEIGHTS: Pier Olivier Cote, 131 ¾, Charlesbourg, Que. TKO’d Luis Acevedo, 133 ½,, Tlainepantla, Mexico (2)

Sebastian Gauthier, 132 ¾,  St.-Jerome, Que. KO’d Martin Huppe,  129 ½, Victoriaville, Que. (4)