LOMACHENKO MADE WALTERS QUIT — When promoter Bob Arum talks about one of his star fighters, his words flow with hyperbole. However, this past Saturday night, his latest star, WBO junior lightweight title holder Vasyl Lomachenko 7-1 (5), put on a boxing clinic. And it came at the expense of an undefeated, hard punching former title-holder, Nicholas Walters, now 26-1-1 (21).
After watching Lomachenko defend his title, Arum said we were seeing “a modern master,” a “magician” at work — and even coming from Arum, that wasn’t an overstatement. Lomachenko was all that and then some. He thoroughly outclassed, out-worked, out-thought and out-fought Walters for six of the seven rounds the fight lasted. Then before the bell to start the eighth round, Walters leaped from his stool while his trainer, Celso Chavez, told referee Tony Weeks “No Mas.” Weeks asked Walters if he wanted to continue and he said “No, I don’t want to continue.”
That’s right, an undefeated former world champ, who lost his title prior to fighting Lomachenko because he failed to make weight, resigned in a title bout after saying the day before that he needed a knockout to win it. That’s how dominant Lomachenko was. He did whatever he wanted to do in the ring and did it whenever he chose to. He was a virtual wizard both offensively and defensively. He picked his spots when to open up and go on the attack, and when he wanted to slide and glide around the ring as if he were on ice wearing skates, plotting his next move – he did that. Vasyl’s speed of hand and foot, and his terrific, but unconventional footwork, had Walters totally befuddled. Nicholas didn’t know whether or not he should try to attack or defend, simply because Lomachenko was a streak when he moved.
Lomachenko had Walters flinching with his throwaway jabs from his southpaw stance, and when he let his one-twos go with a little more serious intent he was gone and off to Walters’ blind side, totally nullifying any attempt Walters made to return fire. And that’s what makes Lomachenko so difficult to deal with. For starters he’s extremely fast, and he’s great at cutting loose when he has his opponent practically tied in a knot and out of position to hit him back with anything noteworthy. At one time in his earlier fights, I felt that he did too many flashy things just to do them–that there was no meaning or purpose behind them. This past Saturday night that all changed, because everything he did, he did for a reason and with purpose.
Walters, who has a pretty good long straight jab, never found a home for it. Due to Lomachenko’s speed and southpaw stance, and perfect foot positioning to the outside, Walters missed with so many jabs, he became glove shy and stopped throwing them. And with his jab rendered useless and after missing with a couple of right leads, Walters right hand was reduced to being nothing more than a space occupier that Lomachenko didn’t really have to worry about. Making things worse for him and hastening the end of the fight, Lomachenko picked up that Walters stopped trying to force the fight, and was instead waiting and reacting to what he was doing. Lomachenko then became more assertive, throwing three and four punch combinations which mostly found the mark. No, they weren’t bricks, but they were pinpoint shots that Walters never saw, and they’re the ones that hurt and get fighters out.
By the end of the fifth round, Walters was basically in a shell and looking for an answer more than he was fighting with a sense of urgency. Without the worriment of anything substantial coming back at him, Lomachenko raised the rent and began taking his liberties, seizing complete command of the fight. Lomachenko is physically stronger than he looks, and because of his accuracy his punches hurt more than Walters showed. And aside from a fight being fixed, there are really only two things that drain a fighter’s will…and they are being embarrassed or getting hurt. Unfortunately for Walters, he was experiencing both. And it also added insult to injury when…Lomachenko was smiling at Walters, tapping his gloves, and patting the top of his head. I have a feeling that those gestures may have taken away what little resolve Walters had left.
“It wasn’t about quitting, right?” Walters said at center ring as the crowd booed. “If you look at the last round he caught me with some pretty good shots. I was hanging on just to survive the round. It would be stupid to continue.”
From outside of the ring it didn’t look like Lomachenko was putting a lot of real hurt on Walters. But I’ll accept that he was getting hurt more so than what it looked…..again, those clean shots that you don’t see really do rattle you. The fact that he sensed Lomachenko hadn’t really opened up with his best, probably had Walters asking himself “What am I doing here?” Couple that with how badly he was being outclassed and humiliated, he figured he’d bailout instead of prolonging the embarrassment and risk really getting beat up or hurt, so he quit!
Sadly for Nicholas Walters, those actions by a world champion caliber fighter are unforgivable in the eyes of most fans and observers. Making it worse for Walters is that he always had a puncher’s chance and should’ve thrown caution to the wind. Lomachenko is a great talent. There’s no shame in losing to him if you go out giving it your all. In quitting during the heat of battle, before it really started, Walters shamed himself and cheated everyone from seeing the best Lomachenko is capable of.
Lomachenko is the real deal. In fact, he’s so good that he didn’t even have to beat up Walters badly to convince him that they didn’t belong in the same ring at the same time. When is the last time we saw a world class fighter intimidate another world class fighter so much so before they really started going at it, that one of them became so spooked that he quit before it became a fight? That’s exactly what Lomachenko did to Walters, and while that’s impressive on one end, it’s painfully sad on the other.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com