Sat | Aug 19, 2017

Axeman hunts WBO title

Published:Saturday | November 26, 2016 | 11:00 AM
Vasyl Lomachenko (right) of Ukraine in action against Thailand's Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo.
Nicholas 'Axeman' Walters
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Jamaican boxing star Nicholas 'The Axeman' Walters will climb into the ring at the Hotel Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas tonight, to challenge the brilliant Ukranian, Vasyl Lomachenko, for his World Boxing Organisation (WBO) Super Featherweight title (130 pounds) in what is expected to be a hard-fought and exciting encounter.

Walters, with a 26-0-1 record with 21 knockouts, is going up against a boxing phenomenon who has a 6-1 record, with four knockouts, that includes two world titles. Unlike other fights in his career, Walters climbs into the ring as the underdog tonight, but this he says does not bother him. It will in fact be an incentive, he says.

Walters was on the road to recognition as one of the boxing greats of this century, when a colossal blunder on his part saw him losing his World Boxing Association Featherweight Super title on the scales at Madison Square Garden, New York, USA. He was scheduled to defend his title against Miguel Marriaga on June 13 last year, but lost the title on the scales the day before, when he failed to make the 126-pound weight limit. The fight went on, and Walters won decisively, but the damage was done and he left the ring as the former champion.

Since then, he has had one fight against Jason Sosa in the Super Featherweight division, and although most people thought that he clearly won that fight, it was called a draw.

This has been the only blemish on his record, but he is still undefeated.

SUPERB CAREER

His opponent tonight has caught the imagination of the boxing world in dramatic fashion. He had a superb amateur career, in which he won 396 fights and lost one. This included two gold medals each, in the Olympic Games and the World Boxing championships. He had five semi-pro victories in the AIBA World Series of Boxing, and turned pro on October 12, 2013. He fought for a world title in only his second professional fight and lost a bruising battle to Orlando Salido. In his next fight, he won the then vacant WBO Featherweight title by defeating American Gary Russell Jr. He gave up that title after defeating Roman Martinez by knockout, on June 11, to take the WBO Super Featherweight title, which he is defending tonight.

Most people, it appears, believe that with his southpaw stance, terrific hand speed, slick movement inside the ring and punching power, he will win inside the distance against Walters.

The Jamaican is not a believer, however. Speaking to The Gleaner, he said: "I am fit and ready and I am going to shock all those people who are betting against me. I am going to win, and don't be surprised if I knock him out."

Walters said he had a lot of respect for Lomachenko.

"He is the champion, and I give him credit because he is a good fighter. Although I respect him and what he has achieved, however, I am going into the ring to win. Let us see how he reacts when I hit him with some good body shots. I want to hurt him and make him bleed and see how he reacts to that. I am ready, he is ready and it will be a great fight," he ended.