New Mexico Boxing

HolmSandersThe Road Holm
Holm's path of pound-for-pound greatness

Story & photos by Chris Cozzone

Having cleared out nearly every name between 140 pounds and 154, Holly Holm says there’s only two things left for her to do:

Solidify her legacy as the top pound-for-pound fighter in female boxing, and to continue taking on all challengers.

The latest challenger comes from South America.

On Friday, Holm, 23-1-3, 6 KOs, will defend her WIBA welterweight title in a ten-rounder against the former junior welter champ, Duda Yankovich, 11-0, 5 KOs, of San Paulo, Brazil. The fight headlines a five-bout card promoted by Fresquez Productions at the Isleta Resort & Casino, south of Albuquerque.

For the most part, Holm says, it’s a “mystery fight.”

“I’ve seen just one fight of hers,” says Holm. “That against Belinda Laracuente, on YouTube. It doesn’t tell me too much.

“From the fight, she seems a pretty traditional fighter, but I know enough not to base a game plan on watching just one fight.”

Both Holm and Yankovich have fought – and decisioned – Laracuente, Holm in 2008, Yankovich in 2007.

“For fights like these, I train on everything,” says Holm, “because you never know what to expect.”

Case in point: In her last outing, Holm took on France’s Myriam Lamare, whose style was nothing like the tape she had seen. In the end, it might’ve been another unanimous decision win for the hometown favorite, but it was a hard-fought victory.

HolmSanders“Not knowing what to expect is motivation for me,” says Holm.

Reasons for staying motivated have changed, says Holm, over the last few years.

“At first it was about winning a belt,” she says. “Then it was about beating Christy Martin. Now it’s about staying on top.

“It motivates me to know that every single fighter who fights me, wants to be the one who beats me. It’s no longer about the belts.”

Since outclassing Martin, in 2005, Holm has not had a single bout that wasn’t a world title fight. She’s fought 13 straight championship bouts, ranging from 140 to 154, with as many as four belts on the line, at a time.

Holm has held six titles within the top four sanctioning bodies of women’s boxing (IFBA, WIBA, WBA and WBC) not to mention a handful of minor ones. Three belts have been within the IFBA (140, 147, 154) and three others have been at welter, under the WBC, WBA and WIBA.

Currently, however, Holm holds two belts, the 154-pound IFBA belt and the WIBA’s welter belt that she will defend Saturday night.

“I don’t pay too much attention anymore,” says Holm. “I can’t even tell you what ones I still have, or not have. It’s kind of weird losing a title without losing it in the ring, but I guess that’s the way it goes.

“It’s who you beat that matters.”

Trainer Mike Winkeljohn agrees, the focus has changed over the years.

“It’s about solidifying Holly’s legacy now,” he says. “Every fight is a challenge, but every fight is about showing you’re the best in women’s boxing.

“The name of the game is, ‘Beat Holly Holm’ now. And that isn’t going to happen.”