EL’s Holt moves to 3-0 with KO

CHESTER – It took a few more rounds, but the result was the same.

After winning his first two professional bouts via first round knockout, Joey Holt had to wait until the fourth round to secure his third victory on Saturday at Mountaineer Racetrack Casino and Resort.

Holt, a 2004 East Liverpool graduate, moved to 3-0 as a pro with a fourth round stoppage of Austin Marcum in the opener of a fight card promoted by Roy Jones Jr. in association with TNT Promotions.

Despite being the opening act of the night, Holt entered the ring for the junior middleweight (154 pounds) fight to a nearly full house at The Harv.

Early on, Holt was frustrated by the unusual style of Marcum whose record fell to 4-3 with 2 KOs after winning his last two bouts. Marcum, who hails from Charleston, W.Va., used an unconventional approach which took time for Holt to figure out.

“By about the third round, I settled down,” Holt said. “I was looking for the big shot and winding up on my punches. I wasn’t putting them together.

“He had an awkward style and didn’t do things like a normal boxer. It took me off my game plan a little, but I adapted.”

Holt caught Marcum with a hard straight right in the final seconds of the first round, but didn’t have enough time to capitalize on the opportunity.

In the second round, Marcum was able to land more punches than Holt, but none of the shots had much power.

“I got hit more than I had in my whole career in boxing and (mixed martial arts),” Holt said. “It made me bite down, but it was a good experience and I needed that.

“The objective is to hit and not get hit, but he never hit me with a clean shot.”

Marcum switched from an orthodox to a southpaw stance midway through the third round as Holt began to cut off the ring and apply more pressure.

Heading into the fourth and final round, Holt said he didn’t want to leave the decision in the judges hands.

“I thought I was winning the fight, but I didn’t have complete confidence,” he said. “You never know. I wanted to finish it before the bell sounded.”

Holt did just that as he cornered Marcum landing a powerful combination that forced his opponent to touch his glove to the canvas. After the referee administered a standing eight count, Holt made sure he finished the job. He once again trapped Marcum in the corner and landed several unanswered blows before the referee stepped in and called a halt to the action.

“When he turned southpaw, I hit him with a right hook and saw he was dazed,” Holt said. “I wanted to get him out of there. It sure helped hearing the East Liverpool crowd cheering me on.”

Holt is now 6-0 as a professional with three wins each in boxing and MMA. While he still maintains a goal of becoming a champion in both arenas, Holt said he will keep his focus on the sweet science for now.

“I want to stay busy,” he said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better test. This guy came to fight, not just cash a paycheck.”

Holt is currently being trained by Tom Yankello at his World Class Boxing Gym in Ambridge, Pa.

“I’m just going to go with the flow,” he said. “Whoever they throw at me. I’m still young in the boxing game and I’ve got a lot to learn. I’ll be back in the gym next week and be ready to go.”