Nicholas Walters wants tough unification bouts
Nicholas Walters scored the biggest victory of his career and his fifth consecutive knockout in stunning fashion on Saturday and the 28-year-old Jamaican fighter’s appetite for destruction has hardly been satiated.
Having floored Nonito Donaire twice on the way to a sixth-round technical knockout victory for the WBA featherweight belt at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., Walters (25-0, 21 knockouts) wants a unification bout against any of the division’s three major titleholders next, starting from the top.
“I’m just thinking about tough competition. Whoever I fight next, it’s got to be a big fight and I prefer to start by unify the titles,” said Walters, 28, during a Wednesday interview with RingTV.com. “So that’s all that I want and that’s what I’m motivated for. I’m just motivated to get back into the gym and to start working again on Monday for whoever they want me to fight next.”
The RING’s No. 2-rated 126-pounder behind No. 1-rated WBC titleholder Jhonny Gonzalez, Walters entered his last fight rated No. 3 ahead of then-No. 4-rated Donaire, who has slipped to No. 6 in defeat.
Walters dropped Donaire with a right uppercut in the third round, overcame being rocked and badly shaken by a left hook at the end of the second and floored Donaire for good, face-first, with a right to the temple at the 2:59 mark of the final round.
“If you watch the fight, there was not one round where I wasn’t in control and winning the fight. I was even winning the second round before I got a little careless and got caught. That was just the one shot that he got me with. But if you’re going to put on a good show in a fight, then you’re going to get hit,” said Walters, who is nicknamed “The Axe Man.”
“I know that he’s fought other guys with good jabs but the difference between me and the other guys is that my jab was fluid and I fought with speed and intelligence. That’s the main difference in the fight. I knew that if I fought this fight the way that I trained for it, that it was not going to go 12 rounds. With my defense and my footwork, everything was working perfectly.”
Managed by Jacques Deschamps, and advised by Ron Mittleman, Walters lives and trains in Panama City, Panama.
“My manager’s business is in Panama, so I came here from Jamaica and have been here for about five years,” said Walters. “I speak good Spanish and there are a lot of fighters in my weight category, so there is no problem for me to get sparring and good training.”
Walters prefers that his next challenge be against Gonzalez, if not No. 4-rated Evgeny Gradovich, the undefeated holder of the IBF’s belt.
“If it was up to me, it would be Jhonny Gonzalez, even though I’ll fight whoever my managers and my promoters put in front of me,” said Walters. “But I really just want my next fight to be one that unifies the title. It really doesn’t matter who that is because I would fight any one of those guys.”
In his last fight in on Oct. 4, Gonzalez (57-8, 48 KOs) floored four-division titlewinner Jorge Arce in the third, fifth and ninth rounds en route to an 11th-round stoppage.
Gonzalez, 33, has scored 14 knockouts in his past 17 victories and was coming off a 10th-round technical decision over previously unbeaten Clive Atwell in May.
The win over Arce represented the second defense of the WBC belt Gonzalez won by a shocking first-round knockout of previously unbeaten Abner Mares.
Gradovich (19-0, 9 KOs) was last in action for a unanimous decision over Alexander Miskirtchian in May that followed his ninth-round stoppage of former titleholder Billy Dib in November.
Gradovich, 28, won his belt by split decision over Dib in March 2013 and made his first defense with a unanimous decision over Mauricio Javier Munoz in July 2013.
On Nov. 29, Gradovich will face Puerto Rico’s Jayson Velez in support of Terence Crawford’s WBO lightweight title defense against Raymundo Beltran.
A third-option for Walters would be RING No. 5-rated Vasyl Lomachenko (2-1, 1 KOs), who is slated to make his first defense on Nov. 22 against Thailand’s Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo in support of Manny Pacquiao’s WBO welterweight title fight against Chris Algieri in Macao, China.
A two-time Olympic gold medalist from Ukraine, Lomachenko, 26, won the vacant belt by majority decision over previously unbeaten Gary Russell Jr. in June.
“In my mind, I think that a fight with Jhonny Gonzalez would be a very good fight. Gradovich is another guy who is a young champion just like myself and that fight would also be a good one,” said Walters, who, like Gradovich and Lomachenko, is promoted by Top Rank Promotions.
“When I go into a fight, I don’t want people to say, ‘Yeah, he was supposed to win that fight.’ I like fighting tougher guys in fights that people think that I’m not supposed to [beat]. So, Lomachenko, I think he’s just needs to get a few more fights under his belt to make the fight more interesting.”
Donaire had last been action for a fifth-round technical decision that dethroned Simpiwe Vetyeka as WBA beltholder in May, scoring a fourth-round knockdown en route to winning his sixth major title (as well one RING championship) in a fourth weight class.
On the Donaire-Vetyeka undercard, Walters scored a fifth-round stoppage of two-division titleholder Vic Darchinyan, whom he dropped once in the second round and twice in the fifth.
“This year has been a very good one for me and a very successful one for me because I’ve beaten two tough guys this year. Nonito Donaire was a mainstay as a featherweight and superstar and a very big name in boxing. Earlier this year, I beat a major player in the division and in the sport when I knocked out Vic Darchinyan. I’m just enjoying myself,” said Walters.
“I leave the matchmaking to the matchmakers and I leave the promoting to the promoters but I would fight Mike Tyson if they said so. I could fight easy guys and make a name for myself but I don’t want to do that…we’re not in this sport to fight easy fights. I want to fight the tougher fighters; that’s what I want. You have to fight hard fights and you have to fight tough guys to make a name in this sport. “
Photo: Chris Farina/Top Rank Promotions