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Junior Witter Loses More Than His Title


Pic Tom Casino/Showtime
Pic Tom Casino/Showtime

By Matthew Hurley: As Ricky Hatton winds down preparations for his May 24th comeback bout against Juan Lazcano in his hometown of Manchester the IBO junior welterweight champion suddenly found himself rid of what he deemed the nuisance of former WBC champion Junior Witter, who lost his title to Timothy Bradley by split decision this past weekend. Witter had been telling anyone who would listen that Hatton had been ducking him for years. There seemed to be more than a bit of truth to that as Hatton repeatedly waved off Witter’s challenges by claiming that the fighter from Bradford was not well known enough to warrant a shot, along with the money that would go along with it, and that his endless verbal assaults against Hatton’s character had reduced him to simply unworthy of consideration.

But Hatton knew he was there, lying in wait, and he knew that an eventual showdown would have to come about at some point as Witter had been gaining sympathy among many fans and media scribes, particularly after his seventh round knockout over Vivian Harris. All Witter had to do was hold onto his one bargaining chip, the WBC title belt, and a big payday against Hatton just may have materialized. Hatton said as much when he began training for Lazcano, with the caveat that the potential grudge match was entirely up to him. Of course with a wink and a nod, preceded by a few pints of Guinness, Ricky has also waved away any notion of fighting Witter at any time simply because it’s his prerogative.

Unfortunately for Witter his loss to Bradley puts the idea of an eventual Hatton bout out of reach and now, the fighter who has struggled mightily for every crumb of recognition he could find, is in the unenviable position of odd man out and at age thirty-four he may never find his way back in again.

Saturday night Witter, 36-2-2 (21) found himself on the canvas in the sixth round courtesy of a perfectly timed right hand by Bradley, 22-0 (11) and he knew at that instant that everything he had worked for and the dream fight against Hatton that he had pined for were slipping from his grasp. The switch-hitting Witter, who often just doesn’t let his hands go enough, caught another overhand right in the seventh and from then on the momentum stayed with the American challenger.


If Witter was indeed preoccupied with that hoped for Hatton bout it was a mistake that Bradley indicated he would be willing to let the former champion atone for. Bradley, who after the fight remarked that Witter had overlooked him, said that he was agreeable to a rematch. Bradley won the title by scores of 115-113, 114-113 while the third judge scored the bout for Witter 115-112.

“He trained hard for me,” the elated winner said in the ring after the decision was announced. “But his mind was on Ricky Hatton.”

As Witter wandered around the ring in disbelief after losing his title he would lament the lost opportunity that was a Ricky Hatton bout, indicating that he may well have been unfocused for his defense against Bradley.

“He won’t fight me now,” he said with marked resignation.

Later Witter said he felt he deserved the decision despite the sixth round knockdown. “I’m gutted,” he said. “I thought I’d done enough to win. I know I had the knockdown but I thought I worked hard enough in the rest of the fight to win comfortably.”

In the end Witter’s uninspired effort cost him more than just his title, it devalued him in the eyes of not only promoters and the ever elusive Ricky Hatton but, perhaps, in the eyes of many boxing fans – particularly American fans who find Witter’s stylistic approach wanting in terms of excitement. Without that championship belt to place on the negotiating table when calling out big name fighters in the junior welterweight division Junior Witter now finds himself further on down the line. It is, however, a situation he has grown somewhat accustomed to, at least in regards to Hatton.

With a sigh of frustration Witter summed it up best when he noted that for whatever reason his timing was slightly off. He was speaking of his in ring performance but he could have also been referring to the timing of the loss in general. With Hatton returning to the ring at the end of the month Witter needed a big time performance to force the ‘Hitman’s’ hand. Instead Junior Witter is no longer a champion and Ricky Hatton now seems miles and miles away.

May 13, 2008


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