When Holly Holm fights at Route 66 Casino Hotel on April 4, her promoters said Tuesday, it might well be her last appearance in the Albuquerque area.
Isn’t that sort of like saying the Lobos will never play in the Pit again, or that the Golden Gate is leaving San Francisco?
During her 12-year professional career in combat sports, Holm has fought as a boxer or MMA fighter 44 times. Of those, 39 have taken place in New Mexico. Of those 39, 37 have been staged within 20 miles of the Big I.
Yet, Tuesday, at a news conference to formally announce Holm’s April 4 MMA fight against Brazil’s Juliana Werner, promoters Lenny Fresquez and Mick Maynard said the Albuquerque southpaw likely will be taking her show on the road after facing Werner.
Maynard is the CEO of Legacy Fighting Championship, a Houston-based organization that signed Holm to a five-fight contract last year. Legacy, in partnership with Albuquerque’s Lenny Fresquez, is promoting the April card.
“For everybody in Albuquerque,” Maynard said, “this could be the last time you get to see her fight here live.”
Fresquez, Holm’s promoter since 2004, said the same but would not talk specifics.
“We’ve just got a lot of things brewing for (Holm),” Fresquez said. “We’ve just got a lot of irons in the fire right now, and it really is most likely to be her last fight here.”
Yet, Fresquez said he has had no recent discussions with UFC, the world’s most powerful MMA promotional concern and seemingly the ultimate destination for Holm.
“Right now, we’re gonna take this fight,” Fresquez said, “and we have other things we’re looking at (afterward).”
Holm (6-0), asked about never again fighting in front of her home fans after April, said she leaves such things to Fresquez and Mike Winkeljohn, her manager and trainer.
But, as she pondered the prospect, a tear rolled down her cheek.
“I’m trying to hope that I fight here again,” she said. “I can’t imagine my life without it.”
Werner (7-3), who spoke with the media from Brazil on Tuesday via Skype, said she’ll do everything in her power to make Holm’s New Mexico swan song – if that’s what it is – an unhappy one.
“I’ll take this opportunity and make the most if it,” she said. “… I’ve been fighting for years, overcoming huge obstacles, and I know that this is my great chance to be recognized for it.”
The Holm-Werner fight is for the LFC women’s bantamweight (135-pound) title.
Is talk of this fight being Holm’s last in Albuquerque a ploy to get people to buy tickets? Of course, but it’s not merely that, since all of Holm’s fights – boxing and MMA – have been well-attended.
Besides, an undercard fight between Nick Urso and Ray Borg might sell out Route 66’s Legends Theater by itself.
Flyweights Urso (7-1) and Borg (5-0) are up-and-comers with UFC ambitions. They both live in Albuquerque.
And they train at rival gyms – Urso at Jackson-Winkeljohn, Borg at FIT-NHB. It’s relatively rare that fighters from those two gyms face each other in the cage.
“There’s a little bit of that (rivalry), there’s no doubt about it,” Winkeljohn said. “… It’s gonna be an exciting fight, and the winner’s gonna go forward to the big leagues.”
BOXING: John Nater was what we thought he was.
And Fidel Maldonado Jr. didn’t let him off the hook.
Maldonado defeated the overmatched, under-conditioned Nater by fourth-round knockout Monday night in San Antonio, Texas, improving the Albuquerque southpaw’s record to 18-2 with 15 knockouts.
A Maldonado left hand to the solar plexus dropped Nater (13-5, 10 KOs, but often facing suspect opposition) in the third round. After a left to the liver area floored him again in the fourth, the Puerto Rico fighter did not come out for the fifth.
After losing two consecutive fights in 2012, Maldonado has won five straight – four by knockout.
“(Maldonado) has lost early on, but he’s still just 22 years old. He’s bounced back well after those setbacks,” tweeted Steve Kim of maxboxing.com.