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Vasyl Lomachenko vs. Nicholas Walters on November 26

Vasiliy Lomachenko

By Chris Williams: Vasyl Lomachenko (6-1, 4 KOs) will be defending his WBO super featherweight title against fellow Top Rank fighter Nicholas Walters (26-0-1, 21 KOs) on November 26 at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas. This is great news for boxing fans, especially those who were tired of waiting for Lomachenko and Walters to finally face each other.

The fight should have been made in 2015 rather than at the tail end of 2016. It’s better late than never. Lomachenko and Walters have both reportedly signed the contract for the fight, which will be televised on HBO Championship Boxing unless Top Rank promoter Bob Arum chooses to go it alone by having them fight on his own show. Hopefully that doesn’t happen.

Walters, 30, hasn’t fought since battling to a 10 round draw against the tough as nails Jason Sosa last December. You have to wonder whether rust will be a factor or not for Walters, as he’ll have been out of the ring for 11 months by the time he faces Lomachenko on November 26. Walters is still ranked high at #1 WBA, #7 WVC, #12 WBO.

Lomachenko recently stopped Roman Martinez in the 5th round last June to capture the World Boxing Organization 130lb title at Madison Square Garden in New York. Lomachenko dropped Martinez in the 5th to get the knockout. However, you have to argue that Martinez was BADLY softened up with his back to back grueling fights against Orlando Salido. Martinez took terrible punishment in both fight, and he dodged a loss in the second fight in September 2015, when the judges scored it a 12 round draw.

A lot of boxing fans thought Salido deserved the win, as did I. I saw the fight, and I had Salido winning eight rounds to four. It was so one-sided at one point in the fight that I thought the referee should have halted it, because Martinez was taking WAY too many head shots from Salido. Never the less, I thought it was a bad idea for Martinez to come back from the controversial draw to fight Lomachenko in his next fight. I thought Martinez should have taken a year off to recover from the Salido fight before facing someone good like Lomachenko.
The timing for the Lomachenko-Walters fight is a bad one in a sense, because Walters is coming off a career poor performance against Sosa. Walters felt that he should have been given the decision in that fight, which took place last December at the Turning Stone Resort in Verona, New York. However, when taking a look at that fight in reviewing it before sitting down to write this article, I must say that Walters didn’t do enough to get the decision. He tried to slug with Sosa, and was beaten at his own game. Sosa appeared to win five rounds to earn a draw. That’s how I scored the fight. I counted five rounds for Sosa and five rounds for Walters. In the last part of the fight, Walters did well when he stopped slugging and started using his boxing to land power shots, but he failed badly in the first half of the fight.

Walters lost his WBA Super World featherweight title on the scales before his fight against Miguel Marriaga when he failed to make weight for their contest in June of 2015. Walters cane in at one pound over the featherweight limit at 127. After Walters weighed in, he reported rehydrated to 145. That’s a lot of weight for a fighter in the featherweight division to be rehydrating. It’s not surprising that Walters moved up to super featherweight to start campaigning in that weight class at 130lbs. What is surprising is that Walters hasn’t fought since his fight against Sosa. It’s unclear whether Walters’ inactivity is due to Top Rank not being able to get dates for him on HBO or what. That would be a real negative for Walters’ boxing career if he starts having problems finding dates on network television. Fighting once a year isn’t good for Walters’ career. He needs to be fighting two or three times per year like Gennady Golovkin.

If Walters can beat Top Rank darling Lomachenko, it would be a big plus for his career, because the two-time Olympic gold medalist has become a mini-star on HBO. Lomachenko isn’t in the same class as Golovkin in my opinion, but he’s someone on the rise. If Walters could beat Lomachenko and do without him missing the weight like Orlando Salido did, it would be huge news. Top Rank promoter Bob Arum is really excited about Lomachenko, as he sees him as a huge star in the making. If Walters can go in and beat Lomachenko, it would put him in his place.

Salido didn’t get credit by a lot of boxing fans for beating Lomachenko, because they said he did it with a weight advantage. Salido was only a little over two pounds over the weight limit for the fight. The way that Lomachenko’s fans would have you believe, Salido was a great deal more than that. It looked to me like Lomachenko couldn’t handle the body punching from Salido. It wasn’t the weight that beat Lomachenko, it was the body punching. The blueprint is already there in how to beat Lomachenko by going to the body all night long.

Lomachenko obviously didn’t have to deal with a lot of body punching in the amateur ranks. If Walters can throw mostly hard body shots in their fight on November 26, we might see Lomachenko clinching nonstop like he did in the Salido fight. Lomachenko was holding over and over again without being penalized by the referee. At some point the referee should have taken points away from Lomachenko for his excessive holding because his holding got in the way of the fight, and probably prevented Salido from knocking him out.

Walters is potentially bad news for the career of Lomachenko, because thus far, the Ukrainian has rebuilt his career since his loss to Salido. Boxing fans have excused his loss to Salido by blaming it on the weight. If Walters beats Lomachenko too, then what is Top Rank and his fans going to say? Will they say it was because of Walter’s weight? I hope not. I think Walters should be given credit if he whips Lomachenko.

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