'I am still one of the world's best boxers'
Nicholas 'The Axeman' Walters will end his nearly nine-month lay-off from the ring on August 19, when he takes on Mexican Arturo Santos Reyes in a 10-round bout in Lincoln, Nebraska, USA.
This will be his first fight since his loss to champion Vasyl Lomachenko of Ukraine on November 26 last year for the World Boxing Organization (WBO) super featherweight title. Walters retired in round seven after being outclassed by Lomachenko.
It was an enormous let-down for the former highly regarded champion, and he fell several notches down the boxing firmament. A former World Boxing Association (WBA) Super champion, Walters, for the first time since 2009, is not now ranked by any of the controlling bodies, and this fight is the first step towards regaining his once lofty standing.
Speaking to The Sunday Gleaner yesterday, the 31-year-old Walters said he knew the importance of this fight.
"My loss to Lomachenko, and the way that I lost, cost me a lot, but I am still one of the best boxers in the world, and I just have to rebuild my reputation. I regard this fight as a warm-up, and after winning it, I plan to fight again in November. Next year, the plan is for me to have an early fight, and then if everything goes according to our plans, I will challenge someone for one of the Super featherweight titles later in the year."
This fight is obviously an important one for Walters because if he does not win it, and look good at the same time, he will have a difficult time getting back into the world rankings, which is the first step to a title fight.
His opponent is a rugged 31-year-old Mexican who has been around the block and has a 19-8 record. He fought for the World Boxing Federation Super bantamweight title in 2012 and lost, and a statistic that jumps out when his record is reviewed is that he has lost five of his last six fights. He did score what was called an impressive victory in December last year when he defeated Diego Vasquez by unanimous decision in Mexico. His last fight was in March this year, when he dropped a decision to Tevin Farmer.
This will be his third fight this year, so, unlike Walters, he has been busy.
This could be a factor in the fight, but Walters said yesterday that although he has not had a fight this year, he has been training all along and is fight ready.
"I expected something to happen in August and my training has been geared towards this. I have another three weeks to prepare and I will be in top condition. Yesterday, for example, I did 12 rounds of sparring and felt good. I will be ready. Most of all, I will not have any weight problems as I am just a few pounds over the weight limit now."
This comeback fight will be one of the most important in his boxing life and he is in a must-win situation if he is to become a world champion again.