ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — They say parting is such sweet sorrow, but Holly Holm gave New Mexican boxing fans a fine farewell gift.
In what was expected to be the final boxing match of a decorated career, Holm dominated Mary McGee at the Route 66 Casino Hotel on Saturday night, earning a unanimous decision in the evening’s 10-round headliner. It was a clean sweep on the scorecards for “The Preacher’s Daughter,” as all three ringside judges scored the bout 100-90 in favor of Holm.
After executing her traditional post-fight back flip with the aid of longtime trainer Mike Winkeljohn, an emotional Holm — wearing her IBA and WBF light welterweight championship belts and holding a bouquet of flowers — broke down in a post-fight interview in the ring.
“If you’ve been in this ring, it’s always going to be a passion, and it’ll never leave me. I just want to say thank you to the fans; you’re like my family, and you have no idea how much I appreciate you,” Holm said.
For those in attendance, the feeling was mutual. The Legends Theater resonated with chants of “Holly, Holly” as Holm made her way to the ring, and the fighter was showered with a rousing ovation after the final verdict was announced. In between, the outcome was never really in doubt.
Holm (33-2-3, 9 KOs) started quickly and never looked back, landing clean, powerful punches and utilizing superior movement throughout the contest. The native New Mexican kept McGee off balance with feints, which allowed her to pick her spots to land crisp combinations. Each frame told a similar tale, as Holm kept her foe guessing by varying her attacks, racking up points with hooks, jabs, lefts to the head and body, and the occasional uppercut.
Effective body punches appeared to significantly slow McGee in Round 5, and Holm took advantage by teeing off with her opponent against the ropes.
McGee, who was making her second appearance in the Land of Enchantment after earning a fourth-round TKO over Victoria Cisneros in December, falls to 20-2. The Indiana native’s best moment of the fight came in Round 7, when she backed Holm up with some solid right hands to the face. Still, the brief salvo was not enough to win the round for the challenger, who spent most of the fight a step behind her opponent.
Though the popular New Mexican recently said she is “99.9 percent” certain that her retirement from the sweet science is final, it is likely that the remaining 0.1 percent would have to involve some type of lucrative showdown with unbeaten Norwegian Cecilia Braekhus — provided both parties could agree to terms.
“Definitely,” Holm said when asked whether pursuing MMA was still the plan. “I don’t think I would have gone through all the pressure of having the press conference before the fight if it was just a bunch of hogwash. (But) I really love my boxing career.”
Holm has maintained a hectic schedule over the past six months, beginning with her unanimous verdict over Diana Prazak in December. From there, Holm returned to the cage at Bellator 91 on Feb. 28, earning her third MMA triumph over Katie Merrill with a second-round technical knockout.
“I don’t know any female boxer that was able to have a long enduring career like I’ve had, and that was because of (promoter) Lenny (Fresquez) giving me these opportunities,” Holm said.
In the evening’s six-round co-main event, Matthew Baca, 135.6 pounds, took a competitive unanimous verdict against Tucson native Armando Gonzales (2-3), 134.6 pounds. All three judges scored the contest 58-56 in favor of Baca (3-1, 2 KOs).
In other undercard action:
■ Albuquerque’s Rocky Romero (3-0, 2 KOs), 146.4 pounds, captured a unanimous decision (40-36, 40-36, 39-37) over Albuquerque’s Michael Coca Gallegos (1-11-1, 1 KO) 147.4 pounds.
■ Albuquerque’s Gabe Gabaldon (1-0), 129.9 pounds, took a hard-fought majority decision over fellow Albuquerquean Brandon Salazar (0-1), 129.2 pounds. Two judges scored the bout 39-37 for Gabaldon, while a third saw it 38-38.
■ Albuquerque’s Manny Rocha (1-0, 1 KO), 175 pounds, defeated Albuquerque’s Flory Olguin Jr. (0-1), 178 pounds by brutal knockout 1:59 into the third round in the pro debut for both fighters.