Lomachenko lives up to high expectations, fight with Walters doesn’t
LAS VEGAS – When a fight between Vasyl Lomachenko and Nicholas Walters was announced, the boxing world was salivating over the possibilities. A master boxer versus a devastating puncher could yield an excellent boxing match.
That’s not what we got here. Not by a long shot.
Lomachenko successfully defended his WBO super featherweight title with a clinical performance at The Chelsea inside of the Cosmopolitan on Saturday, and made the previously unbeaten Walters quit on the stool after Round 7. It wasn’t a one-sided battering that would make the average fighter retire from punishment. Instead, it was Lomachenko putting together a masterful performance that literally made Walters tell referee Tony Weeks “no mas” in frustration after seven rounds of being dominated.
From the opening bell it was evident that Lomachenko possessed superior footwork, punching precision and agility that kept Walters stuck in neutral throughout the fight. To neuter a hard-hitting slugger like Walters, you clearly have to have something special, and that’s exactly what Bob Arum believes he has with the two-time Olympic gold medalist.
“This is the greatest fighter in the world,” Arum said afterward. “I’ve never seen anybody like this since Muhammad Ali. Nobody has the whole package like Lomachenko. This is a real magician.”
Arum may be spot on with his assessment of Lomachenko being a magician because Walters was barely able to land a single clean punch. The Ukranian utilized his jab early to find his range and dazzling movement to keep Walters from finding a home for his power punches that flattened the likes of Nonito Donaire and Vic Darchinyan.
By the fourth round, Lomachenko had Walters all figured out and began to split his guard with jabs and surgically picked his opponent apart. Walters was visibly checking out as the fight progressed as he had no plan B and nothing to offset Lomachenko’s movement. And without any other options at his disposal, it just became a matter of time before Lomachenko would open up and seek a finish.
“He’s a good fighter but he just stood there and made it easy for me,” said Lomachenko (7-1, 5 knockouts). “I had my plan and knew it would take four rounds and then I went to work on him. He said he’d do this and that but in the end he just quit.”
The seventh round was terribly one sided as Lomachenko shifted to the side and throttled Walters with combinations. Walters tried to find his target but his punches missed wide as Lomachenko dazzled with his footwork and ability to avoid anything substantial. By the end of the round, a dejected Walters sat on the stool and said he had enough.
“He told me he just didn’t want to continue,” referee Tony Weeks said.
With the crowd at The Chelsea lustfully booing the abrupt end, Walters explained that he had nothing for his opponent on this night.
“He caught me very hard with a shot (to the temple),” said Walters (26-1-1). “He’s a great fighter. He hit me with a hard number of punches. I’ve never been hit like that before. He’s very fast and a really good puncher. He hit me all over.”
Ultimately, it was Lomachenko proving that he belongs in the conversation with boxing’s elite as he put together an artful performance to close out 2016. Moving forward, the options are plentiful for the Olympian and Arum has some ideas of what’s to come.
“(A rematch with) Orlando Salido would be good,” Arum said about Lomachenko’s only blemish on his record. It was a controversial fight that was criticized for the lack of disciplinary action by the referee as Salido bulled and used dirty tactics throughout. Lomachenko is interested in avenging his only loss. But there’s also another fight that lingers and piques Arum’s interest. “The Manny Pacquiao fight would be a possibility for the second half of 2017.”
Although he’s had less than 10 fights in his career, it is apparent Lomachenko is a force to be reckoned with. And whoever wants a piece of him next will have one hell of a task on their hands.