Title loss will prove costly for Walters
Jamaica's boxing fans are still at a loss for words, since hearing that their favourite international boxing star, Nicholas 'The Axeman' Walters, lost his World Boxing Association (WBA) Featherweight Super Champion title on the scale in New York last week.
Walters was scheduled to meet Colombian Miguel Marriaga in a 12-round title fight at the Madison Square Garden Theatre on Saturday, June 13, but at the Friday afternoon weigh-in, he was a pound over the 126 pound limit, and forfeited the title immediately.
After paying a penalty fee to Marriaga, the fight went on, with the Colombian in a position to win the title with a victory over Walters. What was at stake for Walters on fight night, however, was his unbeaten record and the knowledge that an impressive victory would keep his bargaining power intact.
He did score an impressive, unanimous victory over Marriaga and this kept his stocks high, but to keep himself in the running in the near future, his management team, led by manager Jacques Deschamps, will have to put all their negotiating skills at work.
Until the next WBA rankings are published next month, Walters is only a former champion with no ranking, and that does not auger well for him. Before the Marriaga fight, the talk in boxing circles was that if he retained his title, his next opponent would be Vasyl Lomchenko, the World Boxing Organisation (WBO) featherweight champion.
That would have been a unification fight with a lot of money attached to it. Although Lomachenzo has had only four professional fights, he came into the ranks with an unsurpassed amateur record. He is regarded as one of the most brilliant amateur boxers in history, having won successive gold medals in both the Olympic Games and the World Championships. He then turned professional and won a world title in his third fight.
He is an exceptional talent and is regarded as a very bright light in promoter Bob Arum's Top Rank stable. Arum himself had been pushing the idea of a Walters versus Lomachenko fight for some time, and if Walters had retained his title, there is no doubt that Arum would have made him an offer to fight the Ukrainian star. That is not likely to happen now, especially since the financial gain for Walters would be diluted.
current featherweight champion
If Walters is fortunate to be named the No. 1 Contender in the WBA featherweight division next month, however, then he could seek a title fight within the next six months. The featherweight champion now is Jesus Andres Cuellar from Argentina, who has a 27-1 record, and that would be an excellent fight against Walters who is now 26-0.
Nothing is a shoo-in for Walters for the next several weeks, however, and his manager will be a key person in negotiations for his next fight. His performance against Marriaga, in which he produced excellent boxing statistics, will also be an important bargaining chip.
Compu-Box saw him scoring 279 punches over 12 rounds against the 165 that Marriaga landed. Walters in fact landed 148 of 286 power punches thrown for an average of 52 per cent, and 131 of 523 jabs for a 25 per cent average. Those types of figures will certainly give him some bargaining leverage over the next several weeks and he will need it.