Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Will Controversy Follow Ricardo Torres and Kendall Holt to Vegas This Saturday?

Rematches are supposed to settle scores, we are told, but I can’t help wondering if this coming Saturday’s second fight between WBO junior welterweight champion Ricardo Torres and challenger Kendall Holt will produce still more controversy.

Their first bout, held Sept. 1, 2007, in Torres’s hometown of Barranquilla, Colombia, was clearly marred by a wildly unruly crowd and a negligent referee (American Geno Rodriguez). Holt complained that he had been hit in the head with a beer can during the fight, and the ring was repeatedly soaked with debris and liquids thrown into it. The referee did little to get it cleaned up, much less try to establish some order.

In a protest filed with the WBO, which, of course, they later denied, Henry Cortes, Holt’s manager, stated that in the 11th round, after Holt had been knocked down by Torres, “The ring was drenched with water and hundreds or thousands of pieces of ice.” Despite that, the fight was not stopped and the ring was not cleaned.

Keith Idec, the only American reporter covering the fight, confirmed the chaotic scene there in his report.

Perhaps the greatest controversy came because of the stoppage in that 11th round. Torres had already dropped Holt, who got up quickly, but then began to run to try to survive the round. Torres stalked him and got him in the corner, firing a barrage of punches. Just as Holt retaliated with a punch, albeit weakly thrown, the referee stepped in to stop the bout, and award Torres a TKO victory. The hometown fans went home delirious, while Holt had to return to New Jersey believing that he had been robbed.

At the time of the stoppage, two judges had Holt ahead while one had Torres ahead, although the 11th round would have likely been at least 10-8 for Torres had the round ended with no more knockdowns.

Torres, you may recall, at that time unbeaten, made his American debut Sept. 24, 2005, against then-WBO junior welterweight champ Miguel Cotto, in Atlantic City. In a memorable brawl, Torres dropped Cotto in the second round, but was dropped four times himself, as Cotto won by a seventh-round knockout.

After that fight, when Cotto went up to welterweight, Torres got another crack at that vacated belt, when he faced Mike Arnaoutis in Las Vegas on Nov. 18, 2006. Torres won by a split decision, and then defended it with a lopsided points victory over Arturo Morua on April 28, 2007, also in Barranquilla, Colombia. Torres’s next fight was against Holt, and he has not fought since.

Holt is a talented but sometimes inconsistent fighter, whose only other loss was in 2004, on ESPN2 to Thomas Davis. In a wild and quick battle, Holt dropped Davis in the first, but was then dropped and stopped himself later in that round. That was the last big win for Davis, who has lost four of his last five fights.

After that loss, Holt was able to revive his career, defeating David Diaz by eighth-round TKO in 2005. That was Diaz’s only loss until he was mauled by Manny Pacquiao last Saturday. He picked up lopsided unanimous decisions against Isaac Hlatswayo in 2006 and Mike Arnaoutis in 2007 to get his title shot against Torres. After the controversial loss, Holt returned to the ring in February to win a majority decision against Ben Tackie in a very conservatively fought fight. That victory earned him the rematch with Torres.

On a media teleconference call this week, Torres maintained that the original stoppage was justified, while Holt vowed to fight more aggressively in the rematch. This time they hope to avoid any controversy, as the bout is being held in Las Vegas, which, as we know, has not had any major controversy since – last week, in the Soto-Lorenzo DQ mess.

While the American networks refused to show their first fight, Showtime will telecast this one live, this Saturday night, July 5.

Their first fight was shown on the Argentine television network Space. That telecast, in Spanish, has been posted in its entirety on YouTube, although the video quality is not the best. Still, you can get a good idea what went on there.

Here is that video, so check it out and make sure to catch the rematch:

Ricardo Torres vs. Kendall Holt 1, Part 1 of 5 - Rounds 1-2

Ricardo Torres vs. Kendall Holt 1, Part 2 of 5 - Rounds 3-5

Ricardo Torres vs. Kendall Holt 1, Part 3 of 5 - Rounds 6-7

Ricardo Torres vs. Kendall Holt 1, Part 4 of 5 - Rounds 8-10

Ricardo Torres vs. Kendall Holt 1, Part 5 of 5 - Round 11

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