Final fight looms for Chilliwack boxer

Chilliwack’s Keith Holdsworth displays the City Championship belt he won in late January. Holdsworth coaches and trains at Revolution Chilliwack

The championship belt is nice.

Really nice.

When you grew up as a little boy dreaming of winning one a belt, this is what you hoped for.

It’s big.

It’s heavy.

It’s shiny.

And right now, it belongs to Chilliwack’s Keith Holdsworth, who knocked off Alex Pippes in a B.C. Combative Sports Association light heavyweight title fight in late January.

Holdsworth gave up eight pounds (183 to 175) to Pippes, a power puncher out of Abbotsford’s Blue Corner Boxing Club. But what Holdsworth surrendered in strength, he made up for in speed and technical skill, out-pointing Pippes to take the City Championship.

“I sparred with him, did a couple rounds with him a year ago, so I had an idea of what kind of fighter he is,” Holdsworth said. “He’s a power puncher who doesn’t throw a lot of punches. He sits back looking for the big right hook.”

The fight was held at the Cascade Casino in Langley, and Holdsworth knew what Pippes’ game plan would be.

Strength would give Pippes an advantage inside, where he could wear Holdsworth down and set him up for the big shot.

Holdsworth, a 39-year-old veteran, game planned to keep moving, score with flurries and move away again.

“I knew the first 30 seconds would be critical because that’s when he was going to be at his strongest,” Holdsworth said. “About halfway through the first round we came together in the middle of the ring and traded a flurry of punches, about four or five each. I didn’t know right away, but I hurt him.”

The first two rounds were the most dangerous, but Holdsworth saw Pippes fading in the third and fourth rounds.

Still, knowing Pippes could turn out the lights with one punch made the entire fight a scary one for Holdsworth. No matter how well you train, the idea of being knocked out is ever-present.

“It was scary, but I knew if I was able to make it through the four rounds I’d be able to out-score him,” Holdsworth said. “My corner was keeping me updated as we went along, and I had a pretty good idea that I was ahead. It was just a matter of keeping my hands up and staying away from the heavy shots.”

Approximately 300 people watched the bout, including several of Holdsworth’s friends, family and work colleagues.

The British Columbia Combative Sports Assocation put on the fight and did it up right. Fighting outside the watchful eye of B.C. Boxing (which does not sanction COMBSPORT events), Holdsworth fought as a pro-amateur.

“It was a really nice venue and they had the music and the lights, the card girls and all that,” he said. “And this was the first fight I’ve ever had without head-gear and a shirt, looking like a pro. So that was a little different.”

Holdsworth didn’t earn any money for the fight, but he did set himself up as the top contender for the COMBSPORT B.C. Championship belt, currently held by Hardeep Saran, who trains at Bisla Boxing.

“He’s a young guy (24 years old) and he actually fights a lot like I did when I was younger, fast and technical,” Holdsworth said. “I’m basing my chances on experience, but he’s 7-0 defending his title, so it’ll be a challenge.”

Holdsworth hasn’t seen Saran stop anybody yet.

His wins come on points, which leads Holdsworth to believe he may have a shot.

“I don’t think he has a lot of power that will affect me, and I’m thinking I might be able to put enough pressure on him to break him down,” Holdsworth said. “He’s got speed and youth, but hopefully I can overwhelm him with constant pressure. I’ve done it before against other young fighters who don’t always know how to handle that pressure. It’s about conditioning and having the mental strength to battle through.”

Because there is a certain level of animosity between B.C. Boxing and COMBSPORT, Holdsworth is making the March 18 title fight his last.

Even if he wins, he doesn’t plan to defend his title.

He’ll retire, re-register with B.C. Boxing and dive back into coaching, passing on his knowledge to promising young boxers at Revolution Chilliwack.

“B.C. Boxing is really putting the hammer down on anything to do with COMBSPORT,” he noted. “My B.C. Boxing registration ran out in December and I didn’t re-register because I wanted to go for this belt. After March 18, I’ve told COMBSPORT that that will be it for me. I’ll still train guys for COMBSPORT fights, but I won’t be able to be in their corner.”

Holdsworth actually would have prefered to have a Revolution Chilliwack student fighting Pippes or Saran.

But he has yet to find a pupil who believes in their ability to do it and do it well.

“That’s a big part of why I did this because I wanted to show the guys at the club that if you train hard you can do it,” he said. “I come to the club now and everyone’s excited because everyone wants a belt. I hope seeing that belt and knowing what I did at 39 years old gives the guys some motivation. There are a lot of talented young guys in Chilliwack. They just don’t know it.”

Get more information on Revolution Chilliwack online at www.revolutionfightteam.com.

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