AVILA RINGSIDE Kendall Holt KOs Julio Diaz In Three

SANTA YNEZ, CALIF.-You can’t blink in a battle between former world champions who can crack and Kendall Holt forced Julio Diaz to blink first in knocking out the Coachella fighter in the third round on Friday.

Two elite prizefighters needed only three rounds to see who was better when Holt knocked out Diaz before 1,500 fans at Chumash Casino. Holt needed a win and got it in a nationally televised fight card that saw several middleweight champions in the crowd.

Holt opened up the fight with two big overhand rights on Diaz’s jaw and that seemed to satisfy the Coachella boxer that he knew what he was dealing with. A clash of heads during an exchange saw Diaz emerge with a bloody left eyebrow.

In the second round Diaz worked combinations to the body and head and found success by keeping Holt in a defensive position. Though Holt fired back he was losing ground to Diaz’s volume. Neither fighter was hurt but Diaz scored.

Holt returned in the third round working a little more and causing Diaz to become a little cautious. During an exchange of blows Holt was stunned by a left hook and backed away quickly. Diaz chased after him and plowed into an exchange with Holt who fired a left hook to the body, and then head that caught Diaz on the chin and down he went. He beat the count but was obviously shaky and referee Marco Rosales halted it at 2:37 of the third round of the junior welterweight encounter.

Anthony “Dog” Dirrell (21-0, 18 KOs) handled Wisconsin’s Alberto Mercedes (14-18-1) pretty easily but was tagged in return a few times. After numerous head shots by Dirrell it was a left hook to the body that finished Mercedes at 2:48 of the third round of a light heavyweight match.

Santa Barbara’s Francisco Santana (12-2-1) and Philadelphia’s Julian Williams (6-0-1) scrapped back and forth for six rounds in a junior middleweight contest and it was difficult to decide who won. All three judges scored it 57-57 for a draw. Both Santana and Williams had their moments and neither came close to quitting.

Puerto Rico’s undefeated Jonathan Gonzalez (13-0, 13 KOs) used his counter punching skills from long range to strafe Chicago’s Rudy Cisneros (12-3, 11 KOs). On those few moments the fight went inside and close, Cisneros had good moments. Outside, it was just a matter of time that Gonzalez landed the big blow and it came at 1:50 of the seventh round of the junior middleweight contest.

East L.A.’s Seniesa Estrada (1-0) made her pro debut with a shutout win over Houston’s Maria Ruiz (0-3) in a four round flyweight bout. Estrada showed all of her skills and speed against the taller Ruiz who despite the blur of punches connecting kept the pressure on.

Estrada, a former amateur national champion, had been asked to compete for the coming Olympics but opted to turn professional. She finally got her wish and showed boxing fans why she will be among the top flyweights in a short span of time.

Ruiz fought well and absorbed a big left hand in the last round but just couldn’t match Estrada’s hand speed. Estrada is trained by Dean Campos.

Venezuela’s Jhon Ortega (5-0, 5 KOs) needed three rounds to figure out Marcus Thompkins (5-4-1, 2 KOs) and one solid right cross to end it at 27 seconds of the fourth round of junior middleweight contest. Ortega fights for Thompson Boxing Promotions and was getting an audition for future television possibilities.

Orange County’s Daniel Roman (2-0-1) floored Alfredo Madrigal (1-1) with a left hook to the body and proceeded to out-point the Indio fighter for all four rounds of the bantamweight showdown. Both fighters woke up the crowd in the first round and fired about 250 punches between them.

Kurtiss Colvin (5-0, 4 KOs) knocked out Michigan’s tough Cameron Allan (3-7) with a five punch shot selection ending at 2:52 of the second round. Allan had his moments as he battled back in the first round and then in the second round. But once Colvin opened up with the bombs it was over.

Local favorite Rufino “El Animal” Serrano (9-3) and awkward Ramon Flores (3-12-2) slugged it out for six rounds in a junior featherweight bout. Flores scored a knockdown with a left jab and forced Serrano to battle back and win by unanimous decision.

Lancaster’s Joel Diaz (3-0) needed less than a round to stop Dionicio Alvarez (1-3) in a junior lightweight fight. An array of big blows prompted referee Ray Corona to stop the one-sided contest at 2:08 of the first round.

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