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Ardreal Holmes to make comeback in ShoBox main event Friday

Junior middleweight prospect Ardreal Holmes has gone from a 2½-year hiatus from the sport to fighting in the main on national television. The folks at Showtime must see something special in him.

The rest of us will learn a lot about Holmes when he faces late replacement Vernon Brown on “ShoBox: The New Generation” in a 10-round middleweight bout Friday at Deadwood Mountain Grand in Deadwood, South Dakota.

Holmes (11-0, 5 KOs) last fought in November 2019, when he stopped Jose Antonio Abreu in three rounds.

“The long layoff is due to the pandemic and just waiting for the right opportunity to come along,” he said. “I was dealing with a lot of things at the time, deaths in the family, so part of it was getting myself mentally ready to take advantage of the opportunity when it came along.”

Do you think Ardreal Holmes (left) has a height advantage over Vernon Brown? Amanda Westcott / Showtime

He went on: “After being off for this long, I’m super excited for this opportunity. I just kept my head on straight and stayed positive and here we are.”

Holmes was an outstanding amateur fighter in the mid-2010s, culminating with his alternate status on the 2016 U.S. Olympic team.

And the product of boxing hotbed Flint, Michigan, has maintained the momentum as a professional, using his unusual height (6-foot-2), long jab, southpaw stance and all-around ability to win each of his 11 fights handily.

Now he hopes to pick up where he left off against a solid opponent in Brown, who replaced the injured Mekhrubon Sanginov. He had been scheduled to fight in the co-featured bout.

“I feel good for this fight,” Holmes said. “There’s nothing that I’m not expecting. I’m tall so everyone’s plan is to come forward and put pressure on me, but I’m expecting him to come forward and I plan on catching him on the way in.”

Brown (13-1-1, 9 KOs) fought at 140 pounds in his most-recent fight, a second-round knockout of Fabian Lyimo in February of last year. And he says he’s most comfortable at 147, although he was set to face a 154-pounder on Friday’s card. And the Chicago fighter is 5-foot-7, seven inches shorter than Holmes.

Still, Brown, an aggressive fighter who compared himself to Marvin Hagler, seems to be confident.

“Accepting the fight late wasn’t a big deal,” he said. “I’d already been training. I’m excited for this opportunity and I feel good. … I’ve gone up and down in weight, my last fight was at 140, but I’m used to fighting big guys, so this is not a problem.

“I’ve fought a couple guys who were 6-2, so I’m ready. It’s been a year since February since my last fight, and I’m ready to get my feet back wet again. I feel strong.”

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Ardreal Holmes vs. Vernon Brown: date, time, how to watch, background