CHESTER, W.Va. - Joey Holt is trying to get the best of both worlds - boxing and mixed martial arts.
The 2004 East Liverpool graduate will make his professional boxing debut on the undercard of a show at Mountaineer Racetrack Casino and Resort on Saturday.
An experienced cage fighter, Holt says he wants to stay active in both arenas.
"I still want to do MMA, too," he said. "I've trained a lot for boxing already with what I've done. The boxing part has always been a strong suit of mine. I've won in different ways, but I've always been pretty good at stand-up fighting."
Holt compiled an 8-3 amateur MMA record before turning pro where he has won his first three fights.
"I want to be a two-sport champion," Holt said.
According to Holt, there isn't much difference in the training regimen for both sports.
"Really, the only difference is all I have to focus on is the standing up part," he said. "I don't have to worry about takedowns, there won't be any head kicks or elbows. It really just simplifies things for me."
In preparation for his boxing debut, Holt has been working at Tom Yankello's World Class Boxing Gym in Ambridge, Pa. Yankello, best known for his work with former pound-for-pound great Roy Jones Jr. who is promoting the event, will be working the corner of two of the headliners in Paul Spadafora and Monty Meza-Clay.
"It's a sweet card," Holt said of the Mountaineer lineup of fights. "It's so close to home for me, I'm hoping to get a good following come out. I'm excited for the chance to fight so close to home. A lot of my MMA fights have been in Cleveland or farther away so it's nice to be coming back here."
While Holt is impressed with the talent on the card, one person he doesn't know much about is his opponent. Holt is scheduled to square off against Alan Moore (3-17).
"I really don't know much at all about him," Holt said. "I know he's had 20 pro fights, but I don't even know what his record is. I haven't even looked him up. I'm just focusing on me and what I need to do to be ready."
Holt is a busy man, and that's the way he likes it.
After his Dec. 1 boxing debut, Holt has already scheduled his next two MMA fights (Dec. 29 and Jan. 19). He is hoping to land his second pro boxing match sometime in February.
"I'm just going to stay busy and see where this takes me," he said.
At the top of the card is Paul Spadafora against Solomon Gerome (22-3-1, 11 KOs). Spadafora (46-0-1, 19 KOs), won his last fight on Aug. 18 at Mountaineer against Humberto Toledo (41-8-2, 25 KOs) and is looking to climb back onto the world title stage at age 37. Spadafora, a McKees Rocks native who formerly held the IBF lightweight world championship, served a 13-month prison sentence in 2005 for attempted murder and completed a lengthy stay in rehab earlier this year.
Another co-feature will pit Monty Meza-Clay (33-3, 21 KOs) against Emmanuel Lacero (26-12-1, 14 KOs) in a rematch of a majority decision win for Clay in their bout on July 14 at Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh.
Meza-Clay, a native of Rankin, Pa., has won five straight fights and could be in the mix for a title shot with a victory. Lacero, who started his career at 21-0-1 and has since dropped 12 of his last 17 bouts, has fought the likes of Manny Pacquiao, Daniel Ponce de Leon, Rocky Juarez, Diego Magdaleno and Patrick Hyland.
Youngstown's Jake Giuriceo (16-1-1, 3 KOs) will face Peter Oluoch (11-6-2, 6 KOs). Giuriceo is looking to rebound from his first professional loss.
On the undercard, Pittsburgh's Billy Hutchinson (4-1-2) will take on Jose Caraballo (5-4); Pittsburgh's Morgan Fitch (7-0) will battle Cameron Allen (4-11); and former Steubenville Big Red football standout Angelo Magnone will fight in an amateur contest to begin the night.