Walters thrills the Garden with his A game
NEW YORK, New York:
Nicholas 'The Axe-man' Walters produced a dazzling display on Saturday night to score a lopsided unanimous decision over his opponent, Colombian Miguel Marriaga, at the Madison Square Garden Theatre in New York.
Walters, who had lost his World Boxing Association (WBA) featherweight super champion title on the scales in New York on Friday when he tipped the scales a pound over the 126-pound limit, showed why he is rated an outstanding boxer by many within the sport.
Judge Glenn Feldman scored it 118-109, judge Eric Marlinski had it 117-110 and judge Walenska Roldan made it 119-108. With those scores, Walters maintained his unbeaten streak to an impressive 26-0, with 21 knockouts. Regaining his title, he said afterwards, would be his next mission.
not a one-sided match
The fight was not as one-sided as the scores seem to indicate. Marriaga was an outstanding opponent, who challenged Walters all the way, but 'The Axeman', who for the first time since he became champion did not travel with his traditional mahoe axe, gave a scintillating display of classic boxing that pleased the hearts of boxing purists, who long for the days of boxing as the 'Sweet Science'.
His pinpointed jabbing, backed up by hooks with both hands and vicious uppercuts, gave him round after round, and it was clear that the message was sent when Marriaga's corner told him just before the bell for the start of the final round, "You have to go all out now. You have to knock him out to win."
That, of course, was mission impossible, because Walters brought his 'A' game to the Garden, and finished the fight in fine style, to earn the cheers and the respect of the sold-out Madison Garden crowd.
Walters knew that an impressive victory was necessary to keep his stocks high and maintain his bargaining power, so he set about the fight in a very methodical manner. His jabs were on target from the opening bell, and jabs to the head and hooks to the body were the main weapons in his armoury. Round after round he put his opponent under pressure, and kept the action in the centre of the ring where he could dominate.
Marriaga, whose mission was to maintain his unbeaten record and take home the title, is undoubtedly a fine boxer. He, too, used his jabs effectively, and time after time he caught Walters with overhand rights to the head that would have floored other opponents. Walters, however, showed remarkable resilience and never flinched.
losing the weight
He showed no signs of the rigours of taking off excessive weight the week before the fight. Asked about this afterwards by The Gleaner, he said that he did not feel any ill effects, and that once he re-hydrated on Friday night after failing to make weight, he felt like his old self.
"I felt great, and as you saw, I finished very strong" he told The Gleaner.
After a consistent build-up over several rounds, Walters piled the pressure on in round eight and put Marriaga back on his heels with a vicious right to the head. He followed this up with an attacking ninth round that ended with Marriaga, who is now 20-1, being knocked down for the first time in his career, and tasting defeat, also for the first time.
He said afterwards that if there could be any consolation, it was that he had lost to one of the best fighters in the world, someone for whom he now has the greatest of respect. Both men embraced after the fight, inside and outside the ring and posed for photographs with each other.