Holmes returns to Albuquerque area with Duke City Lions card

March 20, 2019 GMT

Pat Holmes conquered promoting boxing in Northern New Mexico, so it was time for another challenge — like Albuquerque.

For the first time in 14 years, Holmes ventured into the state’s largest city to set up a fight card, which he titled Duke City Lions, on April 5 at the Embassy Suites Hotel and Spa. The title hard reflects the main feature of the card — which highlights primarily Albuquerque-area fighters. The main event has Fidel Maldonado Jr., who was the co-main in Holmes’ Cold War card at Buffalo Thunder Resort & Casino — taking on Colorado fighter Johnny Rodriguez in an eight-round bout.

Also fighting in the event are Jordanne Garcia, Rio Rancho’s Bryant McClain and a Santa Fe boxer — Gabe Vigil. Part of Holmes’ reason for setting up a card in Albuquerque had to do with the overall success of his fights at Buffalo Thunder, which have sold out 20 consecutive times over the past five years.

Holmes last set up a card in the Albuquerque area in 2005 at the Santa Ana Star Casino.

“That’s thanks to everybody there [at Buffalo Thunder] and the support staff that I have and the brand we developed,” Holmes said. “With the combination of Santa Fe, Northern New Mexico and some of Albuquerque, we were able to put that recipe together. But we kind of outgrew that place. We were so full, we even took all of the hotel’s wedding chairs. So, we filled every chair in Buffalo Thunder.”

Holmes said Embassy Suites is a smaller venue, but he already is down to 80 tickets remaining for the event. If the event is a success, he envisions going to other casinos around the city, such as Sandia and Santa Ana.

This will be the first card Holmes puts together in which he won’t also have a fighter from his own stable. A key to his success at Buffalo Thunder has been developing brand names for local fighters that formed a strong, loyal ticket base. It started with his sons, Brandon and Pat Jr., then grew to include Española fighters Antonio Martinez and Leanna Martinez.

Holmes said he was excited about watching the fights merely as a promoter and fan, as opposed to a trainer/promoter. In fact, he feels that his passion as a fan of the sport helped him develop a winning formula.

“My attitude is, ‘I’m a fan, what do I want to watch?’ ” Holmes said. “So, I want to see Fidel and Jordanne. I want to see Bryant McClain. If I can keep thinking like a fan and what excites me, that’s going to make me want to spend $75 to see a Pat Holmes event.”

With Holmes expanding his area, it likely means changing the schedule of bouts at Buffalo Thunder. In the past, he routinely put on cards in January, May and September. Holmes said he is looking at putting on a card at Buffalo Thunder in July, then returning to Albuquerque in September. He feels the Cold War card in January will continue because it has become a staple for boxing fans in Northern New Mexico.

And like any good promoter, he teased some potential events that he feels boxing fans will want to see.

“I think some new things will develop that I will talk about in the future,” Holmes said. “Big, big things that are happening up North.”