Nicholas Walters arrives, stops Nonito Donaire in six
CARSON, Calif. – No one could’ve said it better than Nonito Donaire: “He beat the sÔÇöt out of me.”
Indeed he did. Nicholas Walters proved at the highest level that he is the knockout machine he appeared to be the past few years, stopping Donaire with a single right to the head at the end of Round 6 on the Gennady Golovkin-Marco Antonio Rubio card Saturday at the StubHub Center.
That was only the final act, though. Walters put a beatdown on Donaire beginning in the third round, when the Filipino went down, was cut and seemed to lose his bravado all within a few minutes.
The victory gives Walters the WBA featherweight title. However, it was much more than that.
Walters (25-0, 21 knockouts) destroyed one of the best fighters of the past decade, a probable first-ballot hall of famer. That is the type of accomplishment that turns good fighters into stars.
Walters definitely arrived on Saturday night.
“The victory didn’t come just like that,” Walters said in the ring. “I worked very hard for this knowing I was going to fight Donaire. I knew I had to work hard because he’s a great boxer, a great champion.”
Donaire (33-3, 21 KOs) had looked listless in his recent fights, as if the fire that propelled him to so many exciting victories had died out.
On Saturday, he seemed to find the missing passion. He boxed well and with purpose in the first few rounds, even hurting Walters with a big left hook late in the second round.
Then came the third, when he was cut and went down – touching his glove to the canvas – in the final seconds during a wild exchange.
Donaire survived but was never the same. Gone was the swagger and effective aggression that allowed him to fight with Walters on fairly even terms for a few rounds. Walters became the pursuer, Donaire the prey.
“I recuperated,” said Walters, referring to getting stunned in the second round. “I knew I had job to do. I went out and got the job done.”
The end came suddenly and dramatically in the final seconds of the sixth round. In another crazy exchange, Donaire missed a wild left. That left him open for a short right that landed high on his head and put him down on his side.
Donaire staggered to his feet but was in no condition to continue, which prompted referee Raul Caiz Jr. to stop the fight.
Walters was ahead on all cards after five rounds, 49-45, 48-46 and 48-46. THE RING had it 48-46 for Walters. The Jamaican also landed more than twice as many punches as Donaire, 85 (of 284) to 40 (of 169), according to CompuBox.
“He was as tough as I thought he’d be,” Donaire said. “He had size over me. I couldn’t move. He overwhelmed me and knocked the sÔÇöt out of me.”
Walters took a giant leap forward in his career, positioning himself for more high-profile, big-money fights. You know the fans will be fixated on the “Axe Man” after that knockout.
Meanwhile, Donaire’s future is much less certain. The former four-division titleholder wouldn’t speculate about his next step.
“We’ll have to go back to the drawing board,” he said. “I know I can’t compete with guys like Walters, an amazing, powerful guy in the ring. I just succumbed to his size, power and aura in the ring. ÔÇª We’ll have to decide what to do.”
In other undercard fights, former super middleweight title challenger Edwin Rodriguez (25-1, 16 KOs) defeated Azea Augustama (17-2, 9 KOs) by a near-shutout decision in a 10-round fight. The scores were 100-90, 100-90 and 99-91, meaning Augustama won only one round on one card.
Rodriguez was coming off a one-sided decision loss to WBA titleholder Andre Ward in November of last year.
Abraham Han (23-1, 14 KOs) defeated Marcos Reyes (32-2, 24 KOs) by a majority decision in a 10-round middleweight fight. The scores were 97-91, 97-91 and 94-94.
Jaime Oceguda (9-0-1, 6 KOs) stopped Moris Rodriguez (6-4-1, 3 KOs) in the final round of a scheduled six-round junior welterweight fight.
Ruslan Madiyev, a prospect from Kazakhstan making his pro debut, outpointed Oscar Rojas in a four-round lightweight bout. Rojas also was fighting professionally for the first time.
And Walter Sarnoi (16-4, 10 KOs) defeated Sergio Najera (8-16-2, 2 KOs) by a unanimous decision in a four-round featherweight bout.
Michael Rosenthal is Editor of THE RING Magazine