Wednesday, March 22, 2023  |


Who wins Nonito Donaire-Nicholas Walters?


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Undefeated Jamaican Nicholas Walters and Filipino American Nonito Donaire are the No. 3 and No. 4-ranked featherweights by THE RING and will meet on Saturday at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. in what is “a 50/50 fight,” according to insider panelist John Raspanti.

A former four-division titleholder, Donaire (33-2, 22 knockouts), 31, scored a fifth-round technical decision that dethroned Simpiwe Vetyeka as WBA beltholder in his last fight in May at the Venetian Macao in Macao, China. Donaire scored a knockdown in round four and survived headbutts against Vetyeka to win his seventh major title in a fourth weight class.

On the Donaire-Vetyeka undercard, the 28-year-old Walters (24-0, 20 KOs) thoroughly dominated two-division titleholder Vic Darchinyan en route to a fifth-round stoppage, flooring the 38-year-old veteran once in the second round and twice in round five.

Donaire has twice beaten Darchinyan, stopping him in the fifth round as flyweights in July 2007 and again for a come-from-behind ninth-round knockout in November, one bout prior to Darchinyan’s loss to Walters.

“This fight is a fascinating test for both featherweights. It will let us know how good Nicholas Walters’ chin is and if the Jamaican puncher can deal with a seasoned veteran who employs a stick-and-move strategy,” states Doug Fischer of

“It will let us know if Nonito Donaire is a real featherweight and if he still has the heart for a tough battle. The jury is still out on Donaire’s mental state after being humbled by Guillermo Rigondeaux in his last bout at 122 pounds.”

As follows, Raspanti and Fischer are among the 22 insiders polled by regarding what will transpire in Donaire-Walters.


Marc Abrams,

Nicholas Walters KO Nonito Donaire: I like Nicholas Walters by late stoppage. Walters is a huge puncher and a natural featherweight. Nonito Donaire looked just OK in his last bout and I think this could be the coming-out party for the hungry Jamaican.

Record: 1-0 [Last pick: Floyd Mayweather Jr. UD 12 Marcos Maidana]


Jake Donovan,

Nicholas Walters UD 12 Nonito Donaire: This could be a very long night for Nonito Donaire, who appears to have hit his ceiling at 122. The Simpiwe Vetyeka win was a bit anti-climactic, though he showed his mettle in flooring a naturally bigger foe before quitting and taking the technical decision.

Vetyeka was missing an equalizer though that is not at all a concern with Nicholas Walters, who continues to terrorize any featherweight who dares to cross his path. A stoppage through attrition is not out of the question but the guess here is that the Fil-Am star manages to hear the final bell while Walters enjoys a breakout performance.

Record: 20-6 [Last pick: Mayweather UD 12 Maidana]


Doug Fischer, editor of

Nicholas Walters W 12 Nonito Donaire: This fight is a fascinating test for both featherweights. It will let us know how good Nicholas Walters’ chin is and if the Jamaican puncher can deal with a seasoned veteran who employs a stick-and-move strategy. It will let us know if Nonito Donaire is a real featherweight and if he still has the heart for a tough battle. The jury is still out on Donaire’s mental state after being humbled by Guillermo Rigondeaux in his last bout at 122 pounds.

Donaire’s won his last two bouts at featherweight but those fights came against a old and shopworn Vic Darchinyan – who, like Donaire, is a natural 112/115-pounder – and Simpiwe Vetyeka, who is a natural bantamweight who wasn’t a powerhouse at 118 and certainly isn’t very strong at 126. I like Walters in this fight, not because I think he’s all that proven at featherweight but because he’s a natural 126-pounder. I like his height, his reach, his speed and his vaunted power, of course, but I also like his patience and poise.

Walters’ technique and footwork is solid although he could use improvement in both areas. I expect Donaire to take advantage of Walter’s defensive holes, wide flat-footed stance and inexperience and to outmaneuver and outpoint the rangy puncher in the early rounds. However, I think Walters will catch Donaire with hard shots by the middle rounds and gradually take the fight out of the veteran by stalking him behind steady pressure and combination punching. Donaire will get rocked, maybe dropped, but his solid chin and pride will see him through to the final bell.

Record: 5-3 [Last pick: Carl Froch by late TKO George Groves]


Norm Frauenheim, THE RING magazine,

Nicholas Walters TKO 10 Nonito Donaire: This is an intriguing match of styles between two fighters who appear to be moving in different directions. The momentum belongs to Nicholas Walters, who also has a clear advantage in size and a possible edge in power.

It’s hard to know what to make of Nonito Donaire, who has never fulfilled the pound-for-pound promise he exhibited in a 2011 stoppage of Fernando Montiel. Still, Donaire has fight-stopping power in a counter left and experience on the big stage.

That experience could get him a narrow win the scorecards. But the guess here is that the bold Walters will display just enough patience to stay away from the left while punishing him repeatedly for a late stoppage.

Record: 22-7 [Last pick: Mayweather UD 12 Maidana]


Jeffrey Freeman, www.KODigest.TV

Nonito Donaire SD 12 Nicholas Walters: From a distance, Nicholas Walters looks like a rising star while Nonito Donaire appears to be fading fast, even burning out. Walters is a big strong featherweight. Donaire has struggled at the weight.

A close look at each fighter’s recent result against Armenian Vic Darchinyan flies as a recognizable red flag for the “Filipino Flash” against the aptly named “Axe Man” from Jamaica. I envision an entertaining fight, a fortuitous mix of styles and professional timing.

But unfortunately, I also see controversy brewing on the horizon. Donaire will try to box in circles, looking for safe openings to counter. Walters will find the biggest hole first, chopping Donaire down into more trouble than he’s ever been in.

Somehow, Donaire’s fighting heart will pump him up to the end of a very competitive, bloody title bout but when a questionable split decision in his favor is announced in Southern California, some fans will understandably declare their independence from the judges. The smell of retirement now lingers in the air for Donaire.

Record: 19-10 [Last pick: Maidana SD 12 Mayweather]


Tom Gray,

Nonito Donaire UD 12 Nicholas Walters: This is a tough fight for Nonito Donaire but my hunch is that he finds a bit of form and Nicholas Walters’ reputation should have given him ample motivation in the gym.

Walters is a class act and obviously carries dynamite but I see a rejuvenated Donaire controlling the pace, avoiding the bombs and winning on points. The Filipino Flash has so much experience at the top level that I find it impossible to count him out in this one.

Record: 22-7 [Last pick: Mayweather UD 12 Maidana]


Lee Groves,

Nicholas Walters KO 7 Nonito Donaire: The Filipino Flash is nowhere near the explosive force that crushed Fernando Montiel four years ago. Nonito Donaire throws less; they don’t land nearly as often and as of late, his fire hasn’t burned as brightly.

Nicholas Walters, on the other hand, is hungry for recognition. This is his chance to vault into the spotlight and I believe he’s eager to prove he belongs. I think Walters will go full throttle and at this point of his career, I don’t believe Donaire can withstand it.

Record: 14-5 [Last pick: Mayweather UD 12 Maidana]


Keith Idec, The Record/

Nonito Donaire UD 12 over Nicholas Walters: Nonito Donaire must be more careful in this fight than he has been at times. Though mostly unknown to American fight fans, Nicholas Walters might even be a bigger puncher than Donaire, particularly at featherweight. But expect Donaire to show more patience than he has in recent fights, respect Walters’ power and out-box him enough to earn a hard-fought points win.

Record: 11-3 [Last pick: Shawn Porter TKO 8 Kell Brook]


Ryan Maquinana, CSNBAYAREA/

Nonito Donaire W 12 Nicholas Walters: The pressure is on Nonito Donaire to prove he’s still an elite fighter after a couple of subpar outings. Nicholas Walters presents a worthy challenge with his height and punching power. But I think Donaire uses his movement to get in and out of trouble and eke out a close decision.

Record: 10-1 [Last pick: Mayweather UD 12 Maidana]


Rich Marotta, KFI Radio, Los Angeles

Nonito Donaire UD 12 Nicholas Walters: This may be the toughest fight of the year to pick as it involves two really quality fighters who are wonderfully matched. Nicholas Walters is undefeated and a real handful with tremendous power. Walters will carry the physical advantages into this fight as well.

Nonito Donaire is more experienced against top-notch competition and I believe he is the better all-around fighter. Donaire’s attention to the game, however, has been a question mark the last couple of years, so if he is not completely focused, mentally and emotionally prepared with a good game plan, it could spell disaster.

However, I feel Donaire will enter the ring fully prepared and with his “A” game. In that case, Donaire’s speed will be the difference. Donaire will be faster than Walters, more skilled and able to maneuver him into mistakes. I see a very good fight going the distance with Donaire having his arm raised.

Record: 21-8 [Last pick: Mayweather TKO 9 Maidana]


Diego Morilla, XN Sports

Nonito Donaire W 12 Nicholas Walters: I believe precision and power will be the two deciding factors that will tip the scale in favor of Nonito Donaire. Donaire has more than enough to take care of Nicholas Walters with his superior punching power and his accuracy. Walters hasn’t really beaten anyone until now. This shouldn’t be much of a challenge for an inspired, motivated Donaire.

Record: 10-5 [Last pick: Mayweather W 12 Maidana]


Jack Obermayer, Fight Fax Inc.

Nonito Donaire W 12 Nicholas Walters: Short and sweet. I feel that Nonito Donaire’s experience, ring generalship and decent combinations will trump the efforts of a somewhat limited foe in Nicholas Walters. Donaire by decision.

Record: 15-2 [Last pick: Broner W 12 Taylor]


John J. Raspanti, Monthly Magazine

Nonito Donaire TKO 11 Nicholas Walters: I see this as a 50/50 fight. Nicholas Walters is a legitimate banger. He’s starched 20 of his 24 opponents. WBA featherweight champion Nonito Donaire can punch a little too. His left hook is one of the best in the business.

Walters knocked out common opponent Vic Dachinyan in five brutal rounds last May. Donaire slipped past Simpiwe Vetyeka by a technical decision on the same night. Donaire has looked sluggish and disinterested in his last few fights but he’s also fought the better fighters. I think the more experienced Donaire has enough left to stop Walters in round 11.

Record: 22-7 [Last pick: Mayweather W 12 Maidana]


Matt Richardson,

Nonito Donaire W 12 Nicholas Walters: This is a very difficult fight to pick. Nonito Donaire looks to be slipping while Nicholas Walters could be on the rise. Walters certainly looked impressive in his last fight, much more than Donaire did against the same opponent.

But I haven’t seen enough of Walters to pick him against even this version of Donaire. Plus, Walters doesn’t seem to have the style that typically frustrates Donaire, who will always look lost against a slick, quick boxer.

But against a power-puncher like Walters, Donaire should be OK. Walters could be the next big thing or he could be the next bust. That’s what makes this fight so intriguing. I’ll go with Donaire by a decision although not with any conviction.

Record: 20-5 [Last pick: Mayweather W 12 Maidana]


Cliff Rold,

Nicholas Walters KO Nonito Donaire: Nicholas Walters is a sort of sexy pick and for good reason. Walters is talented, heavy-handed and bigger. Nonito Donaire has been inconsistent for several years and was a miracle shot from being outboxed to a loss in the Vic Darchinyan rematch. This looks like ships passing.

Record: 17-11 [Last pick: Mayweagther W 12 Maidana]


Michael Rosenthal, THE RING Magazine

Nicholas Walters KO 9 Nonito Donaire: Nicholas Walters hasn’t faced the likes of Nonito Donaire, which means he remains a question mark. That said, the feeling here is that he’s the real deal, a very good all-around fighter with crushing power and a killer instinct.

I also feel that Donaire has lost the fire he had earlier in his career and at least some of his punching power as he has moved up in weight. This is why I believe Walters will beat Donaire, possibly by late knockout. Walters KO 9.

Record: 15-5 [Last pick: Mayweather UD 12 Maidana]


John Scully, trainer

Nonito Donaire W 12 Nicholas Walters: I am going to go with Nonito Donaire in what might be a tougher-than-expected fight with Nicholas Walters. I’ll go with Nonito’s sharper punching to carry him to a solid but competitive decision win.

Record: 13-8 [Last pick: Mayweather UD 12 Maidana]


Rob Soucy,

Nonito Donaire UD 12 Nicholas Walters: This is a very dangerous fight for Nonito Donaire as Nicholas Walters has punching power in both hands. Donaire is going to have to box smart and avoid getting caught with anything significant if he is going to win this fight. Furthermore, Walters is not the right fight for Donaire if his heart isn’t 100 percent into his boxing career as many have suggested.

Although Walters doesn’t have the same recognizable names on his record , he is in his prime and probably the most dangerous fighter that Donaire has been in with. I think Donaire understands what he is up against and will box well enough to eke out a close but unanimous points win.

Record: 15-4 [Last pick: Mayweather UD 12 Maidana]


Bradley Starks, guest/fan, Novato, Calif.

Nicholas Walters UD 12 Nonito Donaire: If this match-up took place a couple of years ago, I’d have picked a Nonito Donaire win via dominating fashion. But it’s now and Donaire has slipped a few paces. The Simpiwe Vetyeka fight didn’t last long enough to gauge much and Vic Darchinyan was beating Donaire before The Filipino Flash pulled out that come-from-behind knockout. Donaire is ripe for the picking if the Jamacian fights intelligently.

Speaking of which, Nicholas Walters has good all-around skills and sets up his power shots with the jab nicely. Add in his five-inch reach advantage and Donaire’s gradual but markedly eroding desire to be the “King of the Hill,” and the odds are definitely stacked in The Axe Man’s favor. Is Walters truly elite? Has Donaire regained the “Eye of the Tiger?” The answers should present themselves this Saturday. Meanwhile, my money is on the Axe Man for the win.

Record: 9-1 [Last pick: Mayweather UD 12 Maidana]


Dominic Verdin,

Nicholas Walters TKO 9 Nonito Donaire: Nonito Donaire is one of the most gifted and talented boxers I’ve ever seen in my lifetime. Unfortunately, two things that tend to leave a veteran like Donaire are youth and hunger.

Although Donaire isn’t old by any means, he is ancient in the lower weight classes. Nicholas Walters, meanwhile, is an undefeated knockout artist with the hunger of a young lion. Donaire has tasted his share of glory but also has lost to Guillermo Rigondeaux. Donaire’s heart wants victory yet again but does he still have it, mentally?

Other than Vic Darchinyan, Walter’s resume is replete with relatively unknown competition. I see Donaire giving a good account of himself in the early rounds with Walters patiently working behind the jab. As Donaire looks for the KO, look for Walters to catch him swinging for the fences. Walters by KO in eight or nine rounds.

Record: 19-7 [Last pick: Maidana KO 7 Mayweather]


Charles Villa, guest/fan, Portland, Ore.

Nonito Donaire UD 12 Nicholas Walters: Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire may not be held in the upper echelons of the pound-for-pound rankings by the boxing public but he’s still a damn good fighter. He’s worked his way four divisions, currently trying to reestablish himself as the top dog in an incredibly deep featherweight landscape.

Despite ho-hum performances against Vic Darchinyan and Simpiwe Vetyeka and losing to arguably the greatest technician the sport has to offer in Guillermo Rigondeaux, Donaire is still an elite talent. But Nicholas “Axe Man” Walters is incredibly rangy for the division. Standing at 5’7″ with a 73″ reach, he brings a dangerous jab and punishing power to break his opponents down.

The only problem for Walters is that those opponents have only recently started resemble a beltholder’s resume. We’ve seen what he can do against the likes of brawling Vic Darchinyan and Daulis Prescott but what does he do with a former pound-for-pound herald? If Donaire is half the fighter he was back in 2012 when he earned “Fighter of the Year,” this should be a relative straightforward affair for the Filipino Flash.

Walters tends to paw and slap with his jab, then lunge in with a straight right or a right uppercut if the opponent is in close. So Walters often appears to have over-committed and leaves himself open for a counter. At this point in his career, Donaire isn’t going to be looking to get into a brawl, most likely keeping the fight on the outside.

Donaire’s been left-hook crazy since he flattened Fernando Montiel, which hasn’t always worked but Walters should be there all day to be countered by Donaire’s left. Walters certainly has the power to end it early but I don’t think he’ll be able to catch Donaire the same way he caught Darchinyan. Look for Donaire to walk away with a close unanimous decision.

Record: 14-8 [Last pick: Mayweather UD 12 Maidana]


Anson Wainwright,

Nonito Donaire W 12 Nicholas Walters: Nicholas Walters enters this fight on a great run, winning the title and then impressing with two nice stoppage wins. The most recent knockout was against Vic Darchinyan. Meanwhile, Nonito Donaire hasn’t looked the same at 126 as he did at lower weights.

That said, Donaire has operated at a higher level than Walters and I see Walters aggression being key to Donaire’s success. Walters will have his successes but Donaire will counter him and get a knockdown along the way to winning a solid fight on points somewhere in the 116-112 range.

Record: 20-6 [Last pick: Mayweather UD 12 Maidana]


The insiders have granted the edge to Nonito Donaire by the score of 13-to-9 to retain his WBA featherweight title against undefeated Nicholas Walters.


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