SAN DIEGO, November 25, 2016 – The boxing world’s attention fixed on last week’s high stakes bout between light heavyweight pound for pound boxer Sergey Kovalev and Andre Ward. Coupled with the Thanksgiving weekend, it leaves a terrific bout in Las Vegas this Saturday at risk of being forgotten.
Fans shouldn’t miss this junior lightweight bout between two-division champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist Vasyl Lomachenko of Ukraine, and undefeated former WBA world featherweight champion Nicholas Walters. This 12-round fight has legitimate potential as a late Fight of the Year contender.
Lomachenko (6-1, 4 KOs) is considered the greatest amateur boxer of the modern era, and on a short list with Teofilo Stevenson of Cuba and a handful of others as the greater amateur boxer ever. He quickly became a favorite among knowledgeable boxing media and fans after making his pro debut three years ago. Don’t let Loma’s thin professional record of just seven fights fool you. He punches hard and with accuracy. Coupled with his speed and unmatched footwork and movement, he’s exciting to watch and hard to beat. His only loss came to Mexico’s Orlando Salido, a loss he may try to avenge in a rematch next year.
Lomachenko demolished Roman “Rocky” Martinez of Puerto Rico to win his WBO junior lightweight title in just his seventh professional fight in June, a record for becoming a two division champion. Lomachenko made it look good with a picture perfect knockout of) at 1:09 of Round 5.
Lomachenko would intimidate any opponent, but Nicholas “Axe Man” Walters is nothing if not self-assured. The Jamaican boxer who’s trained for most of his career in Panama loves to talk and loves to put on a show. During his three years as the WBA featherweight champion, Walters (26-0-1, 21 KOs) took apart increasingly tough opponents including Alberto Garza, Vic Darchinyan, and the 2012 Fighter of the Year, Nonito Donaire, in a shocking sixth round stoppage which could truly be called a beatdown.
Since the Donaire fight in October 2014, Walters has only fought twice. He won a unanimous decision over Miguel Marriaga in June 2015, althogh he came in over the weight limit. A year ago on December 19, Walters could do no better than a draw against Jason Sosa of Puerto Rico in his first junior lightweight fight. The result was a headscratcher. Sosa then knocked out the heavily favored Javier Fortuna in June, turning out to be a more skilled opponent in retrospect.
Nevertheless, Walters was unhappy about the outcome, saying at the time he was never hurt in the fight and thought he won every round. It’s taken him a year to find an opponent, and fans are glad it’s Lomachenko. Neither man wastes a lot of time on settling into a fight. Despite all those years as an amateur, Lomachenko quickly developed the predatory finishing drive of truly great fighters. And his technical skills are only improving.
Walters has been knocked down twice in his career, and he went on to win both those bouts by unanimous decision. He has trained for most of his career in Panama and speals fluent Spanish. He fights in the aggressive Mexican/Central American style. Walters does not seem intimidated in the least by the Ukrainian. Walters’ best weapon is his body punching. If Lomachenko can’t land from the outside, he will feel it, fast.
“They say a leopard cannot change his spots right? Since he did lose to Salido, he can be as technical as he wants, but I am in the hurt business. This is a gladiator sport and I fight all of my fights like a gladiator. He can come in with his technical fight on Saturday and I am going to be up for it and put on a hell of a show,” said Walters.
Is Walters concerned about the long layoff and lack of fights the past two years? “The layoff? I am in the motivation business, so the layoff is definitely part of the boxing business. As a fighter I have always been in the gym working out and everything, so the layoff wouldn’t even bother me, and I wouldn’t take the fight if I thought I wasn’t going to be ready for the fight.
“I don’t even think for a minute that I only want to please Nicholas. I want to please the fans and my country, both Panama and Jamaica and all of my fans in Mexico and all over the world,” said Walters.
Lomachenko acknowledges the fight will be tough for him. “He is a very hard puncher and a very good boxer and it’s a very important thing to me to fight the best and it’s important for me because everyone says he is a very good fighter.”
Top Rank promoter Bob Arum hits a milestone with Saturday’s bout. It is the 2,000th event he has promoted in his 50 years in boxing. His first client: Muhammad Ali, in his title defense against George Chuvalo on March 29, 1966. Arum compares Lomachenko to Ali, saying he is one of the best technical fighters he’s ever seen. Even with a little hype built in, Arum’s boxing knowledge is unmatched.
Lomachenko said, “I think it is going to be very, very hard for me in the first four rounds, then after that I will be trying to terminate the bout.” Get in your seat on time, these two should go right after each other.
Also on the HBO World Championship Boxing broadcast, see the replay of the Sergey Kovalev vs. Andre Ward fight, then watch Lomachenko vs. Walters live from The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, starting at 10:35 p.m. ET.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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