Wed | Aug 16, 2017

Shocking defeat for Walters

Published:Monday | November 28, 2016 | 11:00 AMLeroy Brown
Vasyl Lomachenko (left) of Ukraine pounding Nicholas Walters, of Jamaica, in a WBO junior lightweight title boxing match Saturday, in Las Vegas.
Jamaica's Nicholas 'Axeman' Walters (left) taking a beating from Vasyl Lomachenko in a WBO junior lightweight title boxing match last Saturday night in Las Vegas.
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SHOCKED! That was the response from boxing fans worldwide last Saturday night after Jamaica's Nicholas 'Axeman' Walters quit after the seventh round in his World Boxing Organisation (WBO) Super featherweight title fight against Ukraine's Vasyl 'Hi Tech' Lomachenko, which took place at the Hotel Cosmopolitan Las Vegas in Nevada, USA.

Although starting as the 1-11 underdog in the fight, Walters, who went into the ring with a very impressive 26-0-1 record and tremendous goodwill from around the world, was expected to give a world-championship performance against his rival, who has been the talk of the boxing world recently, because of his exceptional boxing skills.

Lomachenko entered the professional ranks three years ago after an amazing amateur career that saw him win 396 of 397 bouts. Since then, he was able to win two world titles in seven fights, and was having his first defence of the title he won on June 11 this year, with a fifth-round knockout victory over then champion Roman Martinez. He now has a 7-1 record.

Both men talked up a storm in the build-up to the fight, and each man predicted a knockout victory. It was Lomachenko who delivered, however, and it turned out that he stated correctly, in advance, just what he would do with Walters. The first four rounds, he said, would be used to test Walters and see what he had in his arsenal, and from round five, he would open up "and take care of business". That was exactly what he did.

LITTLE ACTION

There was very little action in the first round as both men were cautious, but Lomachenko did just enough in the closing stages to take the round. The pattern was the same in the second, and it was easy to see that Lomachenko had a carefully worked out plan. He threw just enough jabs to impress the judges, and in the meantime, successfully parried the jabs and hooks thrown by Walters. It was obvious that his camp had devised a plan to stop the vaunted Walters left hook to the body, as it rarely landed. The right hook to the head, another Walters weapon, was also effectively blocked, and in short order, Walters did not have many options.

In the meantime, by the fourth round, Lomachenko was consistently finding the mark with his jabs. He hit Walters with clean punches, while the Jamaican pugilist could not find the moving target that was Lomachenko. One could see by then that Walters was frustrated by the dominance of his opponent, as he just could not mount an attack. At the start of round five, Lomachenko unveiled the second part of his script. He upped the tempo and his hand and foot speed made him the master, offensively and on defence. This was the beginning of the end for Walters.

AGGRESSIVE SIXTH ROUND

In round six, Lomachenko was more aggressive, and he again stepped up the pace in the seventh. His hand speed was phenomenal, and for the first time in his career,Walters had no answers. His corner had panicked and there was obvious confusion there, so he came out for the round with no plan. He absorbed a lot of punishment in this round and it was obvious at the end of the round, that he was in serious trouble.

It came as a surprise, however, that instead of answering the bell for round eight, Walters called it quits. The verdict was a technical knockout, and he had suffered his first defeat in 28 fights. He said afterwards that the layoff of nearly a year had affected him badly, and this was obvious, as he was not able to do anything right. He now has a few difficult months ahead of him, and drastic action will have to take place to revive the 30-year-old's once promising career.