He made a motion, like he was chopping down a tree with an axe, with severe relish.
I liked it.
I liked Nicholas Walters' stated intention to get at his Saturday night foe, Miguel Marriaga (20-0 with 18 KOs; from Colombia), and take him down like an object made of wood and sap and leaves.
Walters, a 29-year-old Jamaican who tops a Saturday card at the Madison Square Garden Theater in NYC, on a program put together by Top Rank,* portions of which will run on HBO, chatted with media at a workout Wednesday afternoon, at Mendez Gym on East 26th St. in NYC.
The weather outside was delightful, the sun streaming steadily downward on a region most happy to receive it after a harsh winter. Walters' mood reflected some of that brightness, his demeanor was warm when he saw promoter Bob Arum, and thanked “Uncle Bob” for his efforts in landing him high-profile scraps. But his eyes deadened a tad, as well they should, when talking of his plans for Marriaga, and, should that go to form, what he might do if facing Vasyl Lomachenko, the most decorated amateur star who is on most everyones' short list of pound for pound aces of 2017…and some 2016 lists.
Sporting a 25-0 with 21 KOs record, Walters told us about his nickname, “Axe Man.” He said he was at an amateur competition, years back, repping Jamaica, in Trinidad, and was telling teammates to chop foes down, like with an axe. “You are the real axe man,” said a man overhearing him, who was intrigued by this smallish rumbler with a penchant for violent imagery. Could and would his own skills match his descriptive talents? They could, did and do. “Axe Man” was born..
Arum said this kid wants to be an elite, a pound for pound great. I asked Walters, managed by Robert Mittleman, if he didn't think he was there NOW; he told me he considers himself one of the best feathers in world now, yes. And is Marriaga the best he's met, to this point? He's good, yes, but he wouldn't say Marriaga is the on-paper best. (Walters beat Nonito Donaire last time out, Vic Darchinyan in the fight before that.)
Arum makes no secret he'd like to match Walters with Vasyl Lomachenko, and thinks Walters wants to be an all-time great, so, therefore, he craves such XL opps. “Everyone in boxing would die to see that fight!” said the promoter. Walters is for sure open to that. “Of course…to be the best, you've got to beat the best,” Walters told me. He saw Loma win on May 2, on #MayPac, but, he cautioned, he's a thoroughly different animal.
Back to Marriaga…his strength might be his weakness, Walters said…because he likely thinks he will be the stronger, the more powerful of the two, at MSG…and that would be his mistake. Marriaga beat him when they fought before…but in 2008. And look where I am now, Walters said, when asked about that old news.
The fighter finished up by saying he's repping for Jamaica on Saturday and that he's going to do what he does best on Saturday, and that's fight. By the way, I heard at the gym a wise old hand who shall remain nameless, but who has seen ten thousand of these clashes over the decades, say that the Walters-Marriaga fight ain't going past six. Who will drop and stop who, he couldn't say…but don't bet on a distance fight. Someone's sharp axe is going to be aimed true and fierce, and someones' near-term hopes and dreams are going to be felled.
*=I will be employed by Top Rank to work the international TV feed of the card that night.