—- Photo Credit : Chris Farina – Top Rank
He got the call. He got the fight.
Donaire. HBO. Underneath Golovkin-Rubio.
Big stage. Big damn stage.
Opportunity knocking, insistently.
And, so what did Nicholas Walters do?
Throw his cell into the air, dance an Ali shuffle, whoop to the heavens?
None of that.
“I wanted this fight a very long time,” the 28-year-old Jamaican hitter told me. “I’m destined to be the best in my weight class, and want to be the very best in the sport. I know that is difficult to achieve, but the Donaire fight is the right move to get me to the status I want to be at.”
Right now, he is, to be frank, somewhat off radar. I mean, even to some pretty hard core boxing fans, Nicholas “The Axe Man” Walters is a name that draws a quizzical look.
Let’s remind you, or bring you up to speed…
Walters, born in Jamaica, the son of a pro fighter, sports a 24-0 record. He boasts 20 stoppages to his credit, and turned professional in 2008. In his last outing, his most high profile outing to date, he stopped Vic Darchinyan in Macau, underneath the Nonito Donaire-Simpiwe Vetyeka clash. The WBA super feather was up for grabs, a belt which Walters won when he beat Daulis Prescott (then 26-1) on 12-8-12.
“A win over Donaire is a start, getting past Donaire, my job doesn’t stop there,” said Walters, who will try to impress the crowd gathered at the Stub Hub Center in Carson, CA. on Saturday.
He wants to stand out in this weight class, and then advance up the ranks, he tells me.
And no, he’s not a snarly sort, threatening to take the axe to the 33-2 Donaire (age 31), the talented and amiable hitter who provokes debate among some fight fans who wonder if he isn’t more adoring of his beautiful toddler than the rigors of the fight game. “I was so happy Donaire took the fight. I was a little surprised, I fought twice on his undercards,” Walters admitted, “so I think he knows what I can do, I’m pretty sure his people checked the tape of me, if he didn’t watch the fights. I take my hat off to him.”
Walters is a patient boxer, one who will take his time, pick his spots, use his mobility to buy him assessment time. When Donaire presses him, he should be able to negate that with his feet, arguably. His punches don’t wow you at first glance, he isn’t a guy who makes your jaw drop when he misses. But his left hook lands heavy, and I think he’s a thudding sort, who does more damage than first glance might suggest. He likes to wing it, though, and his wide stance suggests someone who does invest in his power punches. Donaire should expect him to peck low and then high, and change his eye level, not keep a stationary head which would allow easy access from that nasty Donaire hook. Walters does well to walk and chew gum at the same time, that is, throw and then remember the wisdom of not waiting around for a receipt. As rounds progress, Walters likes to close the distance, get in tighter, where he can get busier, get nastier. Good, we don’t need a bout in which someone seeks to make themselves a ghost once again, flit away from “The Filipino Flash,” and seek to win by going the distance…We wonder, can Donaire time him when his blows are a little long, a little wide? Can Walters deal if he gets cut, if the waters get deep and his lungs get raw?
Top Rank matchmaker Brad Goodman told he sees this as a 50-50 fight, and is curious what happens when it goes into the later innings. “Donaire has been on the bigger stage, that’s his advantage. And some say he slacked his last last two fights, had trouble getting motivated for them,” the Top Rank fightmaker said. “But I think he knows the knows the danger here and will be at his best.”
Walters learned some of his trade from his dad, “Smokin'” Job Walters, during a boyhood that he says was pretty typical. There wasn’t tons of money floating around his area of Montego Bay, but he went fishing, and played sports, and appreciated the loving and disciplined atmosphere the parents provided.
Job fought from 1986-1991, finishing with an official record of 12-7; he beat Wilson Rodriguez and lost to John John Molina, Rafael Ruelas and Kevin Kelley. The father actually trains boxers today, at a gym in Corpus Christi, Texas.
I had heard that Job and Nicholas have engaged in sparring: true of false? Nicholas laughed and said, no, dad is just very physical when he does pads with me.
He appreciated being physical when sparring unofficially with his two brothers, and ten cousin, all boys, who helped get him ready for the rigors.
Walters has lived and trained in Panama for a long spell, and told me he enjoys that nation, and appreciates their fight culture. He’s a big shot in Jamaica, being their only current world champ, so I can imagine a win over the marquee name Donaire would put him into another echelon. “Of course, I’m destined to become a star,” he told me. “I want to be a major superstar.”
The kid has a nice little bunch of scalps in his collection; is he a KO craver? “I’m a true fighter,” he responded. “How I train is how I fight. And God blessed me with power. But I’m a technical and intelligent fighter. I’m always going to find a way to knock a guy out. With Nonito, if there’s a way, I’m going to do it. But yes, four guys did go the distance with me…but two of them did hit the canvas. Donaire has been a great fighter, tough, intelligent, fighter of the year for 2012…he will will bring his ‘A’ game. Nobody likes losing in boxing, you lose, your face gets battered. You can lose in other sports, it’s not as big a deal. In boxing, people really don’t like to lose.”
Readers, talk to me. Break this one down… Does the sport get a new marquee name, does Walters join Terence Crawford in the club of new faces taking advantage of the Ward-Mikey-Chavez Jr. hiatus time? Or does a pumped-up Donaire show that experience and the fashioning which was built in tougher outings against A grade foes mean more than relative youth and an unblemished record? Who do ya like, Walters or Donaire?
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