Walters decisions Marriaga; Verdejo defeats Najera
By Dan Ambrose: In a Top Rank card in which the A-side fighters had huge size advantages over their opponents, former WBA featherweight champion Nicholas Walters (26-0, 21 KOs), who rehydrated all the way up to welterweight at 145 pounds, defeated the much smaller Miguel Marriaga (20-1, 18 KOs) by a one-sided 12 round unanimous decision on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden in New York. The final judges’ scores were 118-109, 117-110, and 119-108.
In the 9th round, Walters knocked Marriaga down with a right hand that caught him while he was off balance.
Both fighters were hurt in the fight, but it was Marriaga who was hurt more frequently. You could understand it because he was the smaller guy at 135 pounds, and he didn’t have the size to take the shots from the 145 pound Walters all night long.
With this victory, Walters could wind up facing WBO featherweight champion Vasyl Lomachenko next. Bob Arum of Top Rank has been talking about wanting to make that fight and stick in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. However, I’m not sure if Walters can even make featherweight anymore. It would be a risk on Lomachenko’s part to take the fight unless he’s okay with Walters potentially coming in overweight again, and then having to deal with fighting a guy that is almost a junior middleweight.
HBO commentator Max Kellerman made a good argument tonight that the weigh-ins need to be moved back to the day of the fights in order to keep fighters from rehydrating so much the way we saw with Walters. He missed the featherweight limit on Friday when he weighed in at 127 pounds. Walters then put on 18 pounds overnight to come into the fight at 145 compared to Marriaga’s 135. The fight was basically won on Walters’ size advantage. The same with the Verdejo-Najera fight. If they have weigh-ins on the day of the fight, it will keep fighters from gaming the system by coming into the fight three to four divisions heavier. In Walters’ case, he came into the fight four divisions above his weight class of featherweight in coming into the fight as a welterweight. If the weigh-in was the day of the fight, fighters would still rehydrate like crazy in a short period of time, but they wouldn’t be able to put on 18 to 20 pounds in a matter of hours. That’s not going to happen. By having weigh-ins on the day of the fights, it would keep fighters from fighting out of their weight classes like we’re seeing now with all these guys melting down to lower weights in order to take advantage of their size.
In the co-feature, WBO Latino lightweight champion Felix Verdejo (18-0, 13 KOs) used his own size advantage to defeat the smaller Ivan Najera (16-1, 8 KOs) by a 10 round unanimous decision. The judges scored the fight 100-88, 100-88, and 99-89. Verdejo used his size to knock Najera down with a left uppercut in the 5th, and then with a check left hook in the 7th.
Top Rank might have done better to switch the fighters around with Walters facing Verdejo, because those guys were pretty much the same size as each other, and it might have been a more competitive fight than what we saw tonight with Verdejo and Walters matched against smaller fighters.
Other boxing results on the card:
George Arias TKO 2 Eric Cason
Christopher Diaz UD 6 Marcelo Gallardo
Jason Sosa TKO 5 Santiago Bustos
Mike Reed UD 8 Luis Gonzalez