On Saturday, October 18, Nicolas ‘Axeman’ Walters took another step towards boxing immortality when he stopped WBA featherweight super champion Nonito Donaire in six rounds at the StubHub Centre in Carson California. The 28-year-old fighter is now 25-0 with 21 knockouts and has landed himself squarely in the limelight after impressive back-to-back victories over Vic Darchinyan and now Donaire, the Filipino Flash.
After such impressive victories and the one here in Jamaica where he claimed the WBA featherweight title in December 2012 by stopping Dualis Prescott in seven rounds, Walters who hails from Anchovy in St. James must be considered among the best ever Jamaican fighters but where does he rank among them?
Boxing has always been a favoured sport here and the attention given to the Wray and Nephew Contender Series is testimony to that. Sakima Mullings has made himself a local sporting hero in this country by winning the competition. But how will Jamaicans view Walters? As of this weekend, Jamaica’s best boxers are Mike McCallum, Simon Brown, Trevor Berbick and Lloyd Honeyghan.
Of those, McCallum and Brown were better.
Mike ‘The Body Snatcher’ McCallum retired in 1997 after accumulating an impressive record of 49 wins and five losses in a 55-fight career that spanned more than a decade. McCallum won several belts including the WBA light-middleweight title, IBF middleweight title and the WBC light-heavyweight title?
It was rumoured that some of the big guns in his era – Sugar-Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler and Tommy ‘The Hitman’ Hearns – all avoided the Body Snatcher like the they would the plague, but McCallum still claimed some big scalps that included Milton McCrory, Donald Curry, Sumbu Kalambay, Julian Jackson, and Steve Collins along the way.
Walters has some big scalps on his belt now, the last two being the most valuable ones. It can be argued that Darchinyan was past his best and that the Filipino Flash has lost a step but the bottom line is that they were the ones in front of Walters and he chopped both down in impressive fashion. Prior to Saturday night Donaire had only lost twice and, as Walters discovered, still packs a heavy punch.
The Axeman overcame those heavy punches and stopped the champion in six, something he predicted prior to entering the ring at the StubHub Centre.
Simon Brown’s impressive career included 47 wins from 59 fights between 1982 and 2000 during which time he won the IBF Welterweight title that he successfully defended nine times, and the WBC light-middleweight title? In his heyday, Brown, like McCallum, was considered to be among the best fighters of his era. The same cannot be said for Berbick or Honeyghan, who once held the WBA, WBC and IBF welterweight titles.
McCallum and Brown had good knockout power and we technically very skilled.
Walters is almost there. For me, he is ranked just behind those two but with each win the gap is closing. He is, I believe, now considered to be among the best in his weight class in this era. He still lacks the patience of the greats but has great power in both hands.”I’m sorry I fell short tonight of my goal,” Donaire said after feeling Walters’ power on Saturday. “He’s an amazing fighter, amazing champion, an amazing guy. I was at my best. I never trained this hard. I take nothing away from Nicholas Walters. He came out as tough as I thought he would be. The size he had over me I couldn’t deal with. He overwhelmed and knocked the s— out of me.”
It was an impressive endorsement of Walters who has big tests ahead. Up next could be Vasyl Lomachenko, the two-time Olympic champion who is highly regarded even though he only has two wins from three fights in his professional career. This is if Lomachenko can get by veteran Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo who has 52 wins and one loss under his belt.
Now that he is super champion, Walters will be tested and tested often. If he can hold onto this super title for a few years and fight the best of the rest and win, not only will be make a name for himself and a lot of money but he could one day be considered Jamaica’s best-ever fighter.