WHAT’S NEXT FOR LOMACHENKO AND WALTERS? — Vasyl Lomachenko dominated and made Nicholas Walters quit on his stool following the seventh round of their super featherweight title fight on Saturday. Lomachenko was so dominant against a top level fighter that he may have created an odd problem for himself. Quality opponents, the type that Lomachenko wants to face, will now be more hesitant to get in the ring with him. Even if he can conjure up a good opponent, Lomachenko will likely be so heavily favored that the bout will be considered a mismatch.
After the fight with Walters, Lomachenko called out Francisco Vargas. It is a bout though that is unlikely to take place. Vargas has other options, such as rematches with Orlando Salido or Takashi Miura that will likely earn him as much if not more than facing Lomachenko. Plus, as good a fighter as Vargas is, he represents little challenge to Lomachenko who would likely enter the ring a double digit favorite with it being very difficult to envision any scenario in which Vargas remotely challenges him.
The one potential fight that may garner some interest and may be very possible is for Lomachenko to face the aforementioned Orlando Salido in a rematch of their 2014 fight. It is of course the only blemish on Lomachenko’s record. But let’s go back to that first fight. This was only the second professional fight for Lomachenko against a seasoned experienced pro. Salido missed weight and entered the ring with a sizable weight advantage. He consistently fouled Lomachenko during the bout including landing many solid shots to Lomachenko’s hip and was allowed to get away with it.
Even with those circumstances, Lomachenko came on strong down the stretch having seemingly figured out Salido. The last two rounds in particular were completely one-sided in favor of Lomachenko. It was as if Lomachenko not only figured out Salido but turned the corner on his pro career. Since the early rounds of that fight, Lomachenko has lost only a handful of rounds in his career against good fighters. As intriguing as the rematch seems, it could very easily turn into another one-sided dominant affair for Lomachenko.
As for other opponents possibly available such as Terry Flanagan, Jason Sosa or Jezreel Corrales, Lomachenko would easily be a solid double digit favorite in those bouts. These are all solid fighters but their skill level is not in the same ballpark as Lomachenko’s. There would be little intrigue in these fights except to watch the continued brilliance of Lomachenko.
Vasyl Lomachenko’s dominant performance against Nicholas Walters on Saturday opened the eyes of many in the sport. Unfortunately, finding an opponent who will be willing to face him and could conceivably be a threat may prove a challenge going forward.
Nicholas Walters’ Future
The stigma that faces a fighter that quits during the course of a bout can be difficult to overcome. Some fighters, such as Roberto Duran and Genaro Hernandez, were able to overcome this challenge and have success following their decisions to retire during a big fight. This challenge now faces Nicholas Walters following his choice not to continue after the seventh round on Saturday night.
Walters’ best option to quickly rebuild his career might be to pursue a rematch with Jason Sosa. Walters and Sosa fought to a very controversial draw last year in a bout most experts had Walters winning going away. Sosa has since gone on to upset Javier Fortuna to win a super featherweight title and defended it once against the very capable Stephen Smith. Both of those bouts were very entertaining and Sosa appears to be significantly improved since the Walters fight last year. A rematch would probably interest HBO and could land as an opening bout on a card. It would benefit both fighters as Walters could jump right back into the fray at super featherweight or Sosa could prove he should get higher profile opportunities on HBO in the future.
Another option for Walters would be to target Panamanian southpaw Jezreel Corrales. Corrales also holds a title thanks to his upset of Takashi Uchiyama earlier this year. A rematch with Uchiyama is scheduled for December 31st. But win or lose, Corrales makes sense for Walters as an opponent. Walters trains in Panama and the fight could be staged in Panama where it would draw well. It would also be somewhat under the radar and allow for Walters to rebuild his career without a lot of scrutiny. A win would get attention and put Walters back in play for bigger opportunities.
A third option for Walters would be to pursue a rematch with Nonito Donaire. This would be a bout that certainly would interest HBO and give both Walters and Donaire a chance to quickly rebuild their respective careers. However, this could be a bit of a long shot as weight could be an issue. Donaire is now campaigning at junior featherweight while Walters is at super featherweight. Still, if the powers that be in boxing show interest, a catch weight deal could conceivably be worked out.
Despite the way things ended on Saturday, Nicholas Walters has viable options to rebuild his career. Fighters have overcome retiring early in bouts in the past and though it will be challenging, Walters can also overcome this situation.
Under the Radar Fights
At times I like to highlight some under the radar fights that are taking place in this sport. This week we have a few bouts of intrigue that are certainly flying under the radar.
On Friday, Denis Shafikov battles Richard Commey in Russia for the number one ranking in the IBF at lightweight. On paper, this is as even a match as possible in this sport. Shafikov is an aggressive fighter who relies on constant pressure to break his opponents down. He is coming off a career best win in stopping the previously undefeated Jamel Herring, a former US Olympian, in the tenth round. Commey is coming off a close split decision loss to Robert Easter Jr. for the IBF title in a bout in which Commey had Easter on the canvas. Commey is a boxer-puncher with legitimate one punch power. This is an interesting mix of styles in what should be an entertaining crossroads match.
Also on Friday, undefeated prospect Jose Carlos Ramirez takes on Issouf Kinda in a bout that will be televised on Unimas from Fresno, CA. Kinda is a late replacement for Gabriel Bracero and a very capable fighter who represents a step up in class for Ramirez. Ramirez, a heavy handed boxer puncher and one of the sport’s elite prospects, draws big crowds in Fresno and Friday night should be no exception. He is being moved into position for bigger things in 2017. Kinda is no pushover and is coming off a career best win of his own against the undefeated Zack Ramsey in May. Kinda was once himself considered a top prospect and hopes to get back in the mix with this unexpected opportunity.
Finally, Tevin Farmer returns to the ring on Friday to face Dardan Zenunaj. Farmer is an old school fighter who has recently turned the corner in his career, opening the eyes of many. He is a slick southpaw who likes to stand in the pocket and fire off combinations with his fast hands while making his opponents miss. Farmer is staying very active and not waiting around for a big fight. In Zenunaj, he is facing a dangerous opponent who sprung an upset last year against a then undefeated Bryant Cruz in a bout televised by Showtime.
Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel.