By Keith Idec
Patrick English was bewildered by Bob Arum’s assessment of the controversial conclusion to the Ricardo Torres-Kendall Holt junior welterweight title fight.
English, Holt’s Clifton, N.J.-based attorney, didn’t anticipate Arum’s abrasive approach to dismissing what video evidence indicates was a poorly officiated, unsafe fight for both boxers on Sept. 1 in Barranquilla, Colombia, an unfair finish that seemingly warrants an immediate rematch.
Arum is Torres’ co-promoter, along with Colombia’s Billie Chams, thus the 75-year-old former government attorney maintains a financial interest in Torres’ future earnings. But he didn’t attend the World Boxing Organization 140-pound championship match in Torres’ hometown, and in reviewing footage of the fight ignored the disgraceful shower of ice cubes, liquids, plastic and aluminum that littered the ring and endangered the boxers before mistake-prone referee Genaro Rodriguez halted it with 26 seconds left in the 11th round, with Holt still on his feet, fighting back.
“I’m very disappointed in (Arum) choosing to involve himself in this, mostly because he involved himself in a way that is inaccurate,” English said regarding Arum’s statements in press release issued on Sept. 7.
English is hopeful, however, that when the WBO’s championship committee convenes to analyze Holt’s protest of the technical knockout defeat it’ll reach a conscionable consensus and order Torres-Holt II immediately. English expects to file Holt’s official protest Monday. WBO president Francisco “Paco” Valcarcel has assured English and Henry Cortes, Holt’s manager and assistant trainer, that the four-member committee will render its decision within 10 days of the official filing.
Torres’ handlers would then have the right to appeal, according to the WBO’s bylaws, but Holt’s handlers are confident that their evidence is overwhelming. Along with a tape of the bout they obtained from a Colombian television station because the fight wasn’t broadcast in the United States, they’ve also sent 17 still photos of various fouls and/or Rodriguez’s errors in judgment. Those photographs, copies of which were obtained by boxingscene.com, and/or the tape include clear proof of these transgressions and/or inconsistencies:
■ Just 24 seconds into the fight, it appeared that Holt’s right hand connected on Torres’ chin, which should’ve resulted in a knockdown because Torres’ right glove touched the canvas to keep him from falling.
■ After dropping Torres with a right cross in the sixth round, Holt, upon reaching his neutral corner while Rodriguez counted, was hit flush in the face with a full beer can, from close range. He later informed Rodriguez, who essentially ignored the complaint.
■ Prior to the start of the seventh round, before which Torres was still recuperating from the knockdown, Rodriguez temporarily delayed the start of the round because there was water on the canvas in one of the corners. When the slippery surface became much more of an issue in the 11th round, Rodriguez seemed dismissive of its impact on the action.
■ In the 11th round, before complete chaos erupted around them, Rodriguez failed to credit Holt with another knockdown, one that should’ve been counted because his short right hand forced Torres through the ropes, which he used to hold himself upright.
■ A little later in the 11th, when Torres slipped on part of a plastic bottle near his own drenched corner, Rodriguez actually assisted Torres to his feet, never wiped off his gloves and didn’t separate the boxers before allowing them to resume the action. Less than 10 seconds thereafter, Rodriguez stopped the bout, with Holt on his feet and attempting to throw a light punch toward Torres.
Holt has also stated repeatedly that someone in Torres’ overcrowded corner, which was supposed to be occupied by only four people, grabbed his right leg as he tried to avoid an attacking Torres just before the fight was stopped. While Holt, of Paterson, N.J., can be seen using his right glove to keep himself from falling down near Torres’ corner, Holt, Rodriguez and Torres are all blocking the view of anyone trying to see if a man in Torres’ corner indeed pulled Holt’s leg. But an unidentified man is seen on the tape a couple seconds later moving a white towel beneath the bottom rope, right near where Holt looked down as he tried to keep his balance, in an attempt to dry the saturated canvas.
“I’m so disgusted by what happened down there, I just really feel like getting out of boxing altogether,” Cortes said. “It makes you wonder what you’re involved in when something like that is allowed to happen. But it also makes you want to fight as hard as you can to make sure the WBO does the right thing and orders this immediate rematch.
“Kendall has overcome too much in and out of the ring, and worked too hard to get into this position, to have this happen to him. It seems like they don’t understand how much of an effect this had on Kendall’s life. But I’m going to do everything I can to make sure my fighter is treated fairly.”
The 26-year-old Holt (22-2, 12 KOs) earned just $45,250 for his first title shot because the single father of a 4-year-old son was Torres’ mandatory challenger, meaning he was entitled to just a 75-25 purse split once the fight went to bid on June 20. The 27-year-old Torres (32-1, 28 KOs) was contracted to make $135,750 for the second defense of a WBO belt he won 10 months ago in Las Vegas.
Both of their future earnings will be determined somewhat by what the WBO’s championship committee decides sometime by the end of this month.
Arum, for some strange reason, thinks the WBO should allow Torres to fight someone other than Holt in his next fight.
“The referee finally stopped the fight because Holt was unable to continue,” Arum said in the aforementioned statement. “Torres clearly and legitimately won the fight and there are absolutely no grounds for a protest.”
Dino Duva disagrees wholeheartedly. Even though his Duva Boxing promotional company is entrenched in a legal battle against Holt, who he has promoted since 2001, Duva believes the WBO won’t be able to justify not scheduling Torres-Holt II right away. Holt was ahead on two of the three scorecards (98-91, 95-94) at the time of the stoppage, and only Manny Rodriguez (95-94), from Torres’ hometown, had the champion ahead through 10 rounds.
“Kendall and I are in court regarding my contract and that’s disappointing to me,” Duva said. “But regardless of our differences, what happened to him in Colombia isn’t right. I think the WBO should do the right thing and correct this mistake by giving him another shot at a safer location. We can’t allow young men who work so hard to make a living suffer injustices like this without taking corrective action. Things like this are not good for the sport of boxing.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for the Herald News of West Paterson, N.J., and The Record of Hackensack, N.J.