Nicholas Walters vs. Miguel Marriaga & Felix Verdejo vs. Ivan Najera this Saturday, 6/13 on HBO
By Dan Ambrose: WBA Super World featherweight champion Nicholas Walters (25-0, 21 KOs) will be defending his title this Saturday on June 13th against unbeaten #7 WBA, #9 WBC Miguel Marriaga (20-0, 18 KOs) on HBO Championship Boxing from Madison Square Garden in New York. In the co-feature bout, undefeated WBO Latino lightweight champion Felix Verdejo (17-0, 13 KOs) will be defending his title against unbeaten Ivan Najera (16-0, 8 KOs).
Walters has a really tough fight on his hands, as the Colombian Marriaga defeated him when the two of them were fighting in the amateurs. Walters, 29, has since found success at the pro level in capturing the vacant IBF featherweight title three years ago with a win over Daulis Prescott.
Walters has since beaten the likes of Nonito Donaire, Vic Darchinyan, and Albert Garza in stopping all three of them. However, Donaire had Walters badly hurt in the 2nd round of their fight last October, and Walters was fortunate to make it out of the round because he was ready to be stopped at that point. That one incident showed how vulnerable Walters is. He’s good at avoiding incoming fire, but once he does get hit, Walters is very beatable.
Marriaga, a six year pro, has destroyed 18 of his 20 opponents in impressive fashion. However, Marriaga’s opposition has been mostly poor to stay the least. The best guy that he’s fought thus far was Christopher Martin, who Marriaga stopped in six rounds last October.
No one had ever stopped Martin before in his career until that fight. Gary Russell Jr., the current WBC featherweight champion, defeated Martin by a 10 round decision last December, but he wasn’t able to do what Marriaga did to him.
If Marriaga is able to get to Walters early, we could see an upset in this fight. I wouldn’t call it a big upset because the jury is still out on Walters. He’s a big puncher, but he doesn’t appear to be in the same class as WBO featherweight champion Vasy Lomachenko, who Walters will likely be facing at some point in the near future.
They’re both promoted by Bob Arum of Top Rank, and as long as he doesn’t mess up the fight by letting it marinate too long, it could be an interesting one in the future if Marriaga doesn’t foul things up for him on Saturday by beating Walters.
The fact that Arum is letting Walters face Marriaga suggests that he’s pretty confident that he can beat him. This could blow up the 83-year-old promoter’s face in the same way that he blew it with the Yuriorkis Gambos vs. Juan Manuel Lopez fight when Arum let the fight marinate too long and Lopez wound up getting beaten twice by Orlando Salido.
#3 Verdejo should have no problems beating Najera. This is a mismatch even though Najera has an unbeaten record. The 22-year-old Verdejo is a far better fighter than Najera can ever hope to be, and it’s not going to go the distance. This is a safe fight for Verdejo, who will likely be winning a world title in the near future. Verdejo is being steered towards WBA champions Richard Abril and Darleys Perez. He’ll get one of those guys and likely have no problems beating one of them to win a world title.
The Walters-Marriaga fight card will start on HBO at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT.