The pair will go head-to-head at Selhurst Park this evening with both clubs still looking for a first win of the Barclays Premier League campaign.
Both men are renowned for their passion, and Holloway has struggled to date to fulfil his vow to hold his tongue since his return to the top flight, where he previously enjoyed a colourful spell in charge of Blackpool.
However, Di Canio insists there is far more to his latest adversary.
He said: "I like Ian, I have followed his career because I like to know my colleagues.
"He has experience - Bristol Rovers, Queen's Park Rangers... He has had some defeats in his life, but he has done a fantastic job, in my opinion. The balance is more on his side.
"Sometimes people - it happened to me when I started just two years ago - focus their attention on the passion and the body language, and probably they underestimate his tactical skill.
"He is good, but it is clear also that the players have taken up part of his character.
"I like him. He's a good character with good tactical skill - but obviously I am going to play against him and I hope my team is going to win."
Sunderland recorded their first victory of the campaign on Tuesday evening as they staged a late fightback to beat League One MK Dons 4-2 in the Capital One Cup second round.
However, they trailed 2-0 with just 12 minutes remaining and Di Canio, despite his pleasure at the resolve his players demonstrated, was furious about the opening 75 minutes of the game.
He made six changes in midweek and most of his bigger names are likely to return to the starting line-up, although that will not include Stephane Sessegnon, who has been left behind after being arrested and charged over an allegation of drink driving during the MK Dons game.
The Benin international's absence will be tempered by the return to fitness of Steven Fletcher and Connor Wickham's form, while summer signing Jozy Altidore opened his Sunderland goal account in midweek.
A disappointing home defeat by Fulham and the concession of a late equaliser at Southampton last weekend have made for a deflating start to the league campaign, and the travelling fans will not be the only ones hoping to head back north with three points banked.
Di Canio said: "We are going to play to win - but then it can happen that you draw or you lose.
"We don't want to be negative, but whatever happens in the next two or three games, we don't have to lose our confidence.
"We have to be realistic. The fans can be upset if we lose another one or two games because they expect to win and they are worried because they want to see straight away results.
"We don't have to [worry], but we are going to do everything to win three points, for them, for us, for everybody."