By Scott Shaffer
Inactive, obscure boxer moves ahead of Witter
Here is a look back at a ratings controversy Boxingtalk covered in 2005 and how it turned out for the two affected boxers: Last month [Feb. 2005], junior welterweight contender Junior Witter traveled from England to California to face rugged Lovemore Ndou. Witter won a tough fight, exactly the kind of effort that should be rewarded in the ratings, right? Wrong, at least in the WBO's corner of the boxing universe. With #1 rated Ricky Hatton unavailable due to a bout against world champion Kostya Tszyu and #2 David Diaz and #3 Henry Bruseles both losing, Witter reasonably expected he would become the new mandatory contender for Miguel Cotto's WBO title. Instead, he got slapped in the face. In perhaps the most talent-laden weight class in boxing, Witter was dropped from #4 to #6 in the WBO ratings to make room for... get a load of this... Ricardo Torres! The Colombian is a complete mystery to even those who follow the sport devoutly. He has never fought a recognizable name, but Torres was elevated from #6 to #2 without any activity or qualification. What makes this transaction even more suspicious is that Torres has not fought since October, so absolutely no justification exists for moving him ahead of Witter.
Torres was scheduled to face decent Marteze Logan in Las Vegas in December, but that bout fell through. Torres is 25-0, but his record was manufactured by getting 11 wins against a group of five inept locals who have one reported win between them. By contrast, Witter's last 11 bouts have been against boxers with winning records and he has won them all. Witter is co-promoted by Golden Boy Promotions and Hennessy Sports. Golden Boy's Richard Schaefer remained diplomatic when Boxingtalk informed him that Witter had been bypassed in favor of Torres, probably a smart move given that in the absence of a true regulatory body in boxing, the WBO is not accountable to anyone. "I think there must be a mistake, and I will be contacting the WBO to correct it. Junior Witter is the logical #1 contender for Miguel Cotto," said Schaefer.
Six months after this was written, Torres got his mandatory challenge against Migue Cotto and got stopped in round seven. But the WBO continued to look out for Torres, and when Cotto vacated in 2006 to move up to welterweight, Torres was matched pretty soft-- against Mike Arnaoutis-- for the vacant title. Helped by the notorious Adelaide Byrd's 116-111 scorecard, Torres beat Arnaoutis by split decision to become the WBO junior welterweight champion (HBO's Harold Lederman scored the fight 114-113 for Arnaoutis). Torres would defend his title against Arturo Morua in early 2007, and then ran into Kendall Holt of New Jersey. Holt was leading for most of the fight, but the Colombian crowd began throwing items into the ring, including a full can of beer. Torres floored a tiring Holt in round eleven, and with debris flying into the ring and Holt desperate to survive, the fight was stopped too quickly by the referee. The WBO ordered a rematch, and a fired-up Holt destroyed Torres in one minute. It was a crazy fight, with Holt going down twice in the first 35 seconds before putting Torres to sleep. Torres was knocked unconscious, falling down into a kneeling position. After that devastating loss, Torres fought once more in Colombia, a win, and retired at 33-2.
Witter, meanwhile, was relegated to fighting for the European and British titles until the following year, when Floyd Mayweather vacated the WBC junior welterweight title. Witter defeated Demarcus Corley to claim the vacant WBC piece of the world championship and then peeled off two defenses (Morua and Vivian Harris) before being upset by Timothy Bradley in 2008. Witter soldiered on, losing a 2009 title shot to Devon Alexander, and finally hanging the gloves up for good in 2015 with a record of 43-8-2.