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Nicholas Walters takes on Miguel Marriga; Verdejo meets Najera tonight

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By Chris Williams: Former WBA featherweight champion Nicholas Walters (25-0, 21 KOs) will be trying to salvage a victory tonight in his fight against undefeated #7 WBA Miguel Marriaga (20-0, 18 KOs) when the two big sluggers face each other at Madison Square Garden in New York. With the 29-year-old Walters, you can emphasize the word “big” because he failed to make weight at Friday’s weigh-in when he came in one pound over the 126lb featherweight limit at 127 pounds.

As a result, Walters lost his WBA title, and now finds himself in the embarrassing position of merely fighting a normal fight that he hopes he won’t lose. Walters has to win the fight in order for him to get a big money fight against WBO featherweight champion Vasyl Lomachenko. That’s a match-up their mutual promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank wants to make.

Of course, Arum has never been stopped from making a fight whether one or both of his guys have lost their fights, but obviously if Walters loses it’s going to look awfully funny putting the loser of the Walters-Marriaga fight in with Lomachenko rather than the winner of it.

Walters will likely rehydrate to over 140 tonight, and he’ll likely look like a welterweight by the time he steps foot inside the ring against the usually thin Marriaga on HBO Championship Boxing. Unlike Walters, Marriaga was a true professional in making weight for the fight by coming in at 125.2. I don’t expect Marriaga to rehydrate all that much because he usually looks thin for his fights at featherweight, and he doesn’t appear to rehydrate a great deal.

Both Walters and Marriaga are huge punchers, and both have excellent uppercuts. It’s hard to pick who the bigger puncher is. It might be Walters, but only because he’s someone who really should be fighting in the super featherweight division. I don’t know that he’s going to because there are some killer punchers in that weight class, and he would no longer have a weight advantage over his opponents unless he puts on more weight in the future and bulks up to the 150s in between fights. I don’t think he’ll do that.

What’s disappointing about Walters is he had two hours to take off the 1.4 pounds on Friday after coming in over the limit. But for some reason, Walters gave up after taking off just .4 pounds. There are a lot of fighters that could take off the 1.4 pounds with two hours to go before the fight, but Walters just gave up after taking off a little of the weight. That suggests that he was more concerned with winning the fight with his weight advantage than making sure that he took the weight off in order to keep his WBA title.

In the co-feature bout, WBO Latino lightweight champion Felix Verdejo (17-0, 13 KOs) will be defending his title against Ivan Najera (16-0, 8 KOs). It’s expected to be a mismatch despite the fact that Najera is unbeaten. He’s not a big puncher. It’s too bad Arum didn’t switch the fighters around by putting Nicholas Walters in with Verdejo and Najera in with Marriaga. I think that would have been a more interesting card, because Walters is close to being a lightweight and I think it would have been interesting to see how he’d do against a guy his own size. I think it would be a more interesting fight than watching Verdejo destroy the light hitting Najera.

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