By Jake Donovan
Verona, NY -- There are still 12 days left before 2015 comes to a close, but it stands to reason that Nicholas Walters will remain the victim of the worst boxing robbery of the year.
The former featherweight champion appeared to have outworked Jason Sosa throughout their 10-round bout Saturday evening at Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, New York. The three judges saw an entirely different fight, as the HBO-televised co-feature was ruled a majority draw.
Tom Schreck - normally one of the best judges in the game - somehow had Sosa winning 96-94. Matching cards of 95-95 from judges Don Ackerman and Wynn Kintz were nearly as bad, but at least spared Walters the embarrasment of being dealt his first loss in what should have been a landslide win.
Most at ringside had Walters winning by anywhere from 98-92 to 100-90. HBO unofficial scorer and recent Hall of Fame electee Harold Lederman scored the bout 99-91 in favor of Walters.
The bout was Walters' first full foray into the super featherweight division, coming six months after watching his featherweight title reign end at the scales. The two-fisted knockout artist from Jamaica came in over the limit for what became a non-title decision win over Miguel Marriaga this past June.
Having previously scored the biggest win of his career - a 6th round stoppage of Nonito Donaire last October - the victory over Marriaga proved as bittersweet as conceding his title in the manner in which he did was a disappointment.
This one undoubtedly tops anything he experienced during that time.
In fairness to Sosa, several of the early rounds featured nip-and-tuck action while the entire fight was spent at barely a phone booth's distance. Walters was relentless with his left hook to the body, while both fighters were putting in good work on the inside.
The first sign of a potential runaway win for Walters came in round five, hurting Sosa with consecutive left hooks downstairs and up top. Sosa never wilted, remaining well within Walters' punching range but also so that he could get his own shots off.
Despite the debilitating punches from both fighters and their recent string of knockouts, the threat of a knockout never surfaced. It didn't prevent either boxer from fighting like the next punch they landed could end the fight.
Walters continued to chop away, befitting his "Axe Man" moniker. However,Sosa remained game until the very end. The Camden, New Jersey-bred slugger opened up round nine strong and perhaps delivered his best three minutes of the fight. Both boxers also had their say in the 10th and final round, although there was little expectation that the bout was even on the table by that point.
Clearly the judges felt otherwise. Perhaps the three ringside scorers will turn to the respective reactions from each boxer in justifying the cards turned in by fight's end.
“I am in total shock,” said a dejected Walters (26-0-1, 22KOs). “I was never in any danger, never hurt.”
Though relatively alone in his opinion, Sosa actually felt shortchanged by the final call.
“I thought I won and am disappointed it was a draw,” said Sosa (18-1-4, 14KOs), whose 13-fight knockout streak came to a close. “I worked hard, I really thought I won the fight.”
There is an argument to be made that Sosa's activity level influenced the judges. He was the busier fighter overall, landing 167 out of 873 total punches (19% connect rate), including 121 of 610 power shots (20%).
Walters was not only far more efficient, landing far more punches and at a higher connect rate. The greatest disparitiy was in body punches, with Walters outlanding Sosa 118-39.
A win by Walters was believed to lead to a crack at long-reigning super featherweight titlist Takashi Uchiyama, who faces Oliver Flores on Dec. 31 in Tokyo, Japan. That fight could very will still be on the table, but all parties involved would have preferred him coming off of a win, which he sincerely believes should have been the case.
“He is a good fighter the kind of fight I wanted but I thought I won all the rounds,” Walters noted. “So surprised this happened to me.”
Jake Donovan is the managing editor of BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox