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The Colombia Caper: Was Holt Robbed?

BY Michael Woods ON September 08, 2007
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Ah, boxing.

The red light district of sports, where rogues, rascals and the oughta-be-indicted that would be barred from the gate of any other respectable sporting endeavor are welcomed with open arms and handed the keys to the front door.

It’s part of what I love about covering it, because let’s face it, things are always interesting in this part of town, even if one does need to go heavy on the Irish Spring after traipsing in Fightville for any length of time.

Now, I’m not going to opine which label should be affixed to the buffoons who oversaw last Saturday’s Ricardo Torres/Kendall Holt WBO junior lightweight title fight in Barranquilla, Colombia Colombia, I’ll let you choose your own label after I describe the goings on.

The Barranquilla resident Torres, for those who don’t know, stopped Holt in the 11th round in the first defense of his title. Whether Holt was in good enough shape to continue is perhaps debateable, but referee Genaro Rodriguez decided he wasn’t defending himself effectively, so he stopped the affair.

The 26-year-old New Jersey resident was winning on two of the three scorecards when the plug was pulled on him, and again, we could debate this element of the affair.

Holt fought much of the night in retreat in effective fashion, but that tactic is never a big favorite of judges, most of whom favor the naked aggressor, the fighter who fights coming forward, who announces his intent to win the fight in a clear, unambigous manner.

What isn’t debateable is the disgraceful fashion in which the local commission, such as it is in Barranquilla, conducted itself as all order exploded when Torres knocked Holt to the canvas with a left hook with a minute left in the 11th round at the Jumbo Saloon Country Club.

After Holt rose from the blow, he got on his cycle, and motored around the ring, as he tried to clear his head. The fans in attendance at the Saloon showed their disgust at that tactic by launching containers of liquid into the ring. Time to clear the ring, restore order, eject some morons, mop up the canvas, get the emcee to calm the loonies, right?

That’s a no brainer, right?

Not in this locale.

The ref didn’t appear to notice the dangerous conditions and instead allowed the hometowner to try to close the show. Actually, he must’ve noticed, because he mopped the liquid off his face with his sleeve, and then helped Torres, who slipped on the ice-slick surface, to his feet, so he could continue to hunt down Holt. At one point, Holt maintains, someone in the Torres corner actually grabbed his leg and tried to impede his movement.

Holt was still on his feet, though, and appeared to be on sturdy legs, when Rodriguez stepped in and declared him done. A look at the canvas at that point shows it is covered with ice cubes, completely inappropriate for a Toughman contest, let alone a world title fight.

Hey, I’m not a big fan of Holt’s mad-pedaling style, and I think he showed too much respect for Torres, and I understand why Torres fans were irked by the American’s tactics. I’m trying to find some common ground here, not engage in partisan bickering. But this was a disgraceful scene, and it wouldn’t pass any sniff test if one were testing for impartiality. Or competence, if we’re talking the referee, who apparently tried to get at Holt after the fighter objected, heatedly, after the stoppage.

The remedy to this one, besides some lessons in decorum for the dungheads in Colombia who launch beer into the ring on the fighters, and a remedial class in common sense for referee Rodriguez, is a rematch. There needn’t be any studies, or any hearings convened, or deliberations to be heard. Just watch the tape, WBOers, and do the right thing. Chop chop, there’s a credibility issue at stake. (A very thin shred of credibility, but still…)

Reason One, because the conditions at this match were sub-professional, and a rematch should be placed in a location where rules and common sense are adhered to.

Reason Two, a rematch is necessary because it makes good business sense. No U.S. carrier wanted to buy this scrap, but surely one of the big two, HBO or Showtime, will step up and pay to land Torres/Holt II.

Anyone who doesn’t believe there are grounds to see Torres (32-1, 28 KOs) and Holt (22-2, 12 KOs) do it again either has the last name Rodriguez, or was slurping too much brew at the Saloon, and needs to hop on the wagon.

Ah, boxing. It often leaves you needed a good, stiff scrub in the shower.  Even if you haven’t been doused with beer in the center of a ring in the Jumbo Saloon Country Club.

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