Giving 150 Percent


Under the gaze of Detroit boxing luminaries like five-division champ Thomas Hearns and legendary manager of world titlists Jackie Kallan, unbeaten junior middleweight prospect Ardreal “Bossman” Holmes made his way to the ring at Wayne State University’s Fieldhouse on February 20.

Photography by Adam J. Dewey – Salita Promotions

The lanky Flint native stands six feet-two inches and fights in a division with a weight limit of 154 pounds; but the southpaw packs surprising power into his slender, yet muscular frame.

Holmes was in Detroit defending his United States Boxing Association title and headlining the first Big Time Boxing USA fight card organized by Salita Promotions and broadcast on DAZN, a popular international sports streaming service.

He climbed into the ring eager to make a statement after narrowly winning the vacant USBA belt last June via a technical split decision over Wendy Toussaint. That fight was stopped during the eighth round with Toussaint bleeding profusely after an accidental clash of heads opened a nasty gash on his forehead. Holmes was declared the winner because he was leading on two of three judges’ scorecards, but was less than pleased with his performance.

Now, he was facing dangerous Marlon Harrington, a Detroit native who entered the bout with a 10-1 record, including nine knockouts.


“I wanted to make a statement that night because I’ve realized that boxing is not going to last forever and the time is now to really give it all I have.”


A fairly even first round seemed to serve as a feeling-out process for Holmes as he sought to find range with an effective jab in the hopes of setting up power shots.

In the second round, he did so – with lethal results.

Just 35 seconds into the round, Holmes dropped Harrington with a perfectly timed overhand left. Harrington rolled around on the canvas a couple of times before finally getting to his feet.

Mere seconds after the fight resumed, Harrington was down again, falling forward to his knees after getting walloped by a Holmes’ right hook. Harrington managed to beat the count again but appeared even more wobbly as the bout resumed once more.

Holmes continued landing well-placed bombs, sending Harrington careening into the ropes and putting him down for a third time as he came off the ropes. Having seen enough, referee Ansel Stewart stopped the bout one minute, 25 seconds into round two.

A jubilant Holmes improved to 15-0 with six knockouts.

“Yes, I wanted to make a statement that night because I’ve realized that boxing is not going to last forever and the time is now to really give it all I have and move up in my division,” says Holmes, who turns 30 this year. “I was really prepared to do what I did against him.”

As a throng of supporters cheered his dominant performance, Holmes embraced trainer Ed Kendall, who also runs the FWC Berston Boxing program at Flint’s Berston Field House with Jason Crutchfield, fellow Berston boxer and multi-time state Golden Gloves champion Chris Thompson and cutman/handwrapper Joe Quiambao.

Thompson then brought Holmes’ three-year-old son, Ardreal III, into the ring for a celebratory hug and held him as his father was interviewed by DAZN’s Raul Marquez, a former junior middleweight world champion.

Quiambao could hardly have been more elated.

He also serves as director of operations for New York City-based Split-T Management, which has overseen Holmes’ career since he first turned professional in 2016 and has enjoyed a front-row seat for his growth.

“I think the Toussaint fight was a wakeup call for Ardreal that he needed to make a decision about committing himself, 150 percent, to boxing to really maximize his talent,” Quiambao says. “He took steps to do that and came into this last fight with a great game plan and followed it to a tee. The fight started and, boom – Ardreal capitalized on his chances and showed he could join the likes of Claressa Shields and Chris Byrd as the next world champion from Flint.”

What Quiambao means by Holmes’ committing himself “150 percent” to boxing is that he was admirably trying to box at a world-class level, work full-time as a certified nursing assistant and be an attentive father; but he had spread himself a little thin.

Stepping away from his CNA position last fall allowed Holmes to split his training for the Harrington bout between Flint and Las Vegas, sparring with and learning from a gamut of fellow boxers.

“I had been trying to work full-time and train for years and the time had come for me to really go for it in boxing or not,” Holmes says. “I felt so much better about my preparation coming out of training camp for the Harrington fight. Coach Kendall drilled into me how I had power, but was not setting up the shots and, especially in Las Vegas, I saw every day how hard everybody else is working for their careers. That was really motivational.”

Quiambao loved seeing Holmes’ power on full display in his first knockout victory since November, 2019.

“The work Ed did with Ardreal and to bring out his power shots was obvious,” he says. “I’ve seen people get into the ring with Ardreal, maybe wondering what this skinny guy can do. Then, I’ve seen the surprise in their faces when he cracks them.”

Holmes has also stepped up the quality of his opposition since returning from a 28-month layoff in March of 2022. In that time, he has beaten four fighters who entered those bouts with a combined 49-3-1 record, including 32 knockouts.

The resounding victory over Harrington propelled Holmes into the World Boxing Organization rankings at No. 15, marking the first time he has been ranked by one of boxing’s four major organizations.

“I’m always looking to take on the most talented guys, so I can keep proving myself,” Holmes said. “My manager (David McWater) has set me up well. I’m happy with how I’m boxing right now, but I’m only going to get better. That’s what I’ve been trying to do every day.”

Holmes first dabbled in boxing at Berston at age 11, but the experience lasted only a few months before he decided to “run off and be a kid.”

A far more serious Holmes returned to Berston at age 15 and began sparring with Shields, among others.

Soon, he embarked on an accomplished amateur career, culminating in just missing a berth in the 2016 Olympics. Along the way, Holmes, who split time between Berston and Gallo Boxing Gym in Lansing, captured a USA Boxing national championship and four Michigan Golden Gloves titles.

“I had uncles and cousins who boxed which inspired me to try it and I was also inspired by all the Flint greats like Chris Byrd and the Dirrells (Andre and Anthony),” Holmes says. “I felt like I could be a champion like them, and that boxing is what I was meant to do.”

Holmes’ pro career began in 2016 with a TKO of Rakim Johnson at a Detroit venue known as Eastern Market Shed 5.

He reeled off 11 straight wins before missing more than two years due to the COVID 19 pandemic, the birth of his son and various personal issues.

Also during that time, a man was sent to prison for the second degree murder of Holmes’ brother, Desmond Savage, in November of 2016 in Flint.

“I did think about hanging it up during the time away, but then realized I was not meant to just go 11-0 and be done and I want to be an example to my son about not quitting,” Holmes says. “My brother’s memory is a big motivation, too, and I know he would be super proud of me for everything I’ve been doing, including keeping my boxing career going.”

Holmes hopes to resume that career soon, intent on climbing higher in the rankings and closer to a world title shot.

“Hopefully, I can take on somebody who is ahead of me in the rankings in my next fight, win that and keep moving forward,” he says. “After that, I want to win a world junior middleweight title and look to win one in another division.”


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