Nicholas Walters looks to kick some axe in New York debut
WBA featherweight titlist Nicholas “Axe Man” Walters will face heavy-handed Colombian Miguel Marriaga, 20-0 (18), on June 13 at the Theater of Madison Square Garden in New York. The fight will be half of an HBO doubleheader that will also feature young, Puerto Rican star Felix Verdejo.
Walters opened eyes and opportunities (for himself) when he drilled former champion Nonito Donaire in six rounds at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. in October of last year. Walters dropped the hard-hitting Donaire in rounds three and six before referee Raul Caiz Jr. had decided he’d seen enough; it was an impressive big fight debut to say the least. Walters will enter the ring for his 2015 debut coming off an outstanding 2014, in which he also blasted former champion Vic Darchinyan in five.
Walters turned pro in the summer of 2008 and until his United States debut in Texas in 2013, he had fought exclusively in Jamaica and Central America. In Dec. of 2012, he won the vacant WBA featherweight title with a seventh round TKO over Daulis Prescott in Kingston, Jamaica. He then made his US debut taking out Alberto Garza in four rounds in the “Lone Star State” in Nov. of 2013. Then last year, he picked up the breakout wins over Darchinyan and Donaire.
Walters left 2014 as the hottest fighter in the featherweight division and plans to keep the 126-pound fires burning in 2015.
Walters sports a record of 25-0 (21) and is looking to show the world he is indeed the No. 1 featherweight in the game. The elite of the 126-pound division sports some big names, so Walters is working a class that boasts lots of opportunities for which to prove himself. The current chatter centers on a fall bout with former amateur star Vasyl Lomachenko. However, the featherweight class has a lot of other attractive fights for the Montego Bay, Jamaica resident.
The featherweight division sports some serious players in the likes of WBO champion Lomachenko, popular Mexican Abner Mares, former world champion Jhonny Gonzalez, Jesus Cuellar (who picked up an impressive knockout this past weekend over former champion Darchinyan) or undefeated Puerto Rican star Jayson Velez.
In facing Marriaga, Walters is squaring off against an undefeated but mostly unknown fighter who has fought almost exclusively in Columbia. But Walters knows that, to get the big names at 126 pounds, he needs to stay a champion and focused on the bigger prizes that await him down the line.
After losing to tough Mexican veteran Orlando Salido in 2014, Lomachenko redeemed himself with a vacant title-winning effort against undefeated Gary Russell Jr. in June of last year in Carson, Calif. Lomachenko has the WBO strap, two title defenses under his belt and is promoted by Top Rank Promotions. Walters, also promoted by Top Rank, has three title defenses in the bank. This seems like a no-brainer unification clash if there ever was one.
A good showing on Saturday night in New York could be the last little bit of hot sauce this fight needs to heat up into a September sizzler.
Things can change on a dime in boxing, so it will be hard to know how this plays out for the exciting Jamaican. However, in recent interviews, the only sure thing was that Team Walters wants to face the best in his division so “Axe Man” can show the world who is the king of the featherweights.
“I like fighting tougher guys in fights that people think that I’m not supposed to beat,” Walters said. Added promoter Leon Margules of Warriors Boxing, “[Walters] is a superstar fighter who had his breakout year last year. There are several big fights for Nicholas on the horizon that will further cement him as one of the game’s top fighters.”
It was hard to deny that Walters was, perhaps, one of the biggest breakout stars of 2014. He hopes to further cement that reputation Saturday night in New York City.
Stats from the Stub...
* Alejandro Luna UD 8 Cristobal Cruz
* Alfredo “El Perro” Angulo KO 5 Delray Raines
* Jesus Cuellar KO 8 Vic Darchinyan
* Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero SD 10 Aron Martinez
* Dominic “Trouble” Breazeale TKO 3 Yasmany Consuegra
* 2012 Mexican Olympian Oscar Molina UD 8 Todd Manuel
Boxing from Barclays in the Big Apple…
* WBC middleweight champion Miguel Cotto TKO 4 Daniel Geale on Saturday night at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Immediately after the fight, talk turned to Cotto-Canelo Alvarez or Cotto-Gennady Golovkin.
* Fernando Vargas UD 8 Wilfredo “WV2″ Vazquez Jr.
* Olympic Chinese silver medalist Zhang Zhilei UD 4 Glenn Thomas
* Junior Younan TKO 2 Mike Sawyer
* Angel Luna UD 6 Jose “Wonder Boy” Lopez
* Dustin Fleischer TKO 1 Kareem Millner
* Shawn Simpson TKO 4 Damon Simon
The week that was
* Was it me or did Miguel Cotto seem a lot more interested in fighting “Canelo” Alvarez than he did “GGG” in his post-fight interview on Saturday night with HBO’s Max Kellerman? While he somewhat hesitantly said he’d be interested in fighting Golovkin, he also made it pretty clear in the interview that he’s not a middleweight.
* Looks like Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr. is returning in September. Mayweather Promotions has requested the date of Sept. 12, 2015 to promote a boxing event at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nev.
* How did Daniel Geale earn a title shot against Cotto? By getting blasted out and voluntarily quitting against GGG the last time he fought in New York? Then he pulls another New York “No Mas” against Cotto. Take lotsa pictures and get a t-shirt, Daniel; I doubt you’ll be getting a third call to return to the “Big Apple.”
* Wow – there were a lot of empty seats at the StubHub Center on Saturday afternoon!
* I like Robert Guerrero. I’m a fan and watch him fight each time out. However, It looked like he had lost something when he was getting hit so cleanly on Saturday afternoon. And getting dropped by a fighter with four KOs isn’t a good sign. Did he return too soon from the Keith Thurman bout (which was a tough, grueling distance loss)? Maybe because this fight was viewed as a comeback fight (after the Thurman fight), it was assumed he’d have an easier out? I’m hoping he can channel a little more of the old “Ghost” next time.
* Vic Darchinyan is a warrior and as gutsy a fighter as there is. However, he is 39 years old, has had 49 bouts as a pro after a long amateur career and has been stopped in three of his last four fights. The way his corner was waving the towel the minute he got dropped, one can assume they had decided (at his age) they weren’t going to let any tough situations go on any longer than necessary. Perhaps it’s time for “The Raging Bull” to look back on a great career from the safe side of the ropes.
* Let’s hear it for the Hall! This year’s International Boxing Hall of Fame inductees include heavyweight Riddick “Big Daddy” Bowe, featherweight “Prince” Naseem Hamed and lightweight Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini in the “modern” category. In the “old timer” category is light flyweight Yoko Gushiken. In the “non-participant” category are agent Rafael Mendoza and referee Steve Smoger. Finally, in the “observers” category are journalist Nigel Collins and broadcaster Jim Lampley.
* Lauren Hill, the Mount St. Joseph University (Cincinnati) college basketball star who battled cancer, should be receiving the “ESPN Arthur Ashe Courage Award.” She bravely battled on and off the court as she fought a disease that eventually claimed her at age 19 last April. The award is being given to Caitlyn (formerly Bruce) Jenner.
* To my Illinois brothers – Tomas Mendoza, Coyote Duran and Marty Jakubowski – Let’s Go Hawks! The Blackhawks came out of Florida with one but two would have been sweeter. The “Madhouse on Madison” will be rocking this week!