“He just overwhelmed me and knocked the shit outta me… I can’t compete with guys like Walters.” – Nonito Donaire
Nicholas Walters announced his stature as an elite fighter with one of the best wins of year in dispatching Nonito Donaire over six mostly one-sided rounds Saturday night at the StubHub Center. There had been rumblings that Donaire would have his hands full against Walters. A select few even predicted Donaire’s ruin. But hardly any called a Donaire decimation so thorough that it may signal the end of his run as a top fighter.
THE LEFT HOOK ALMOST SAVES DONAIRE: Both men came out firing with bad intentions. Donaire held a slight edge due to his greater accuracy and variety of shots, particularly with his famed left hook. Not only did he crack Walters a few times clean to the head; he dug the lethal punch downstairs and had the young challenger jumping away in obvious pain.
The second stanza was mostly dominated by Walters, who began pounding Donaire with looping right hands inside and offense-disrupting jabs at long-range. Donaire was buzzed in the final 10 seconds, but Walters pounced too recklessly and was nearly dropped himself by a series of left hooks. Walters literally fell into the refs arms as the bell sounded, leaving us to wonder if Sunday’s discussion would have been about Donaire’s return to form had there been about 10 more seconds left in the round.
THE BEATING BEGINS: Walters would later admit he was badly hurt and his corner was in a frenzy. However, his recovered in that one minute rest and started to punish Donaire thoroughly for the rest of the bout. The third had both fighting inside with big shots on even terms until a Walters right uppercut put Donaire in his knees. Donaire tried to fight off the backfoot and clear his head in the fourth, but was treated to three minutes of thudding jabs that rearranged his face. By the fifth, Donaire was sporting cuts around both eyes and getting battered along the ropes. Walters also had the timing of Donaire left hooks, which now took the form of desperate hail mary shots, leaving the champion with little hope of pulling off a miracle.
THE END: Donaire was getting hammered on the ropes and tried to fight his way out with a big right and left hook. Walters backed out of range and came over the top with chopping right hand. It cracked Donaire on the side of the head and whipped his neck to a violent angle. The shot drained Donaire’s equilibrium and sent him face first to the canvas. Donaire slowly got to his feet and stumbled to the corner, giving the referee little choice but to call off the fight.
NEW FRIENDS AND A WEIGHT CLASS TOO HIGH: Both fighters were very gracious afterward. Walters told Donaire that he spent his young career looking up to him and hoped the Filipino Flash could help him in future camps. Donaire was very honest in admitting Walters was simply too good for him, but he had pride in taking such a dangerous fight.
This was Donaire’s fifth weight class and at some point the climb was going to be too much. Walters is a young, hard-punching and natural featherweight. He also adjusts well and doesn’t panic when hurt. Watching the fight, there was shades of Terence Crawford’s win over Yuriorkis Gamboa, in that the veteran started strong but got weaker every round while the young lion remained fresh.
THE NEXT MOVE: I still saw a high-level fighter in that ring Saturday, so I’m not as quick to say retirement looms for Donaire. There are not many featherweights in Walters’ mode, so Donaire can compete. But if his desire was indeed dampened by this defeat, then he leaves the game with a stellar career.
As for Walters, he apparently will have a date with Vasyl Lomachenko. It’s another intriguing bout and one where I’d favor Walters due to his better jab and more consistent punch output.[youtube http://youtu.be/8W-PCWxxDcw]
FULL FIGHT[youtube http://youtu.be/jeUTXyQMVVE]