NEW YORK CITY — HBO’s June 13 edition of Boxing After Dark saw two young stars in Nicholas Walters and Felix Verdejo work hard for their paychecks. The wide scorecards won’t reflect the efforts of their respective opponents, Ivan Najera and Miguel Marriaga, who came to compete and landed significant leather all night.
A BIGGER AXEMAN AVENGES AMATEUR DEFEAT: Walters and Marriaga last met seven years ago in the amateurs with Marrigaga getting the win. This time around, Walters’ size and body punching proved too much for Marriaga. Much emphasis needs to be placed on size considering Walters missed weight and came into the ring Saturday night weighing 145 pounds. The extra girth allowed Walters to handle Marriaga’s biggest shots, including a fourth round where the Axeman was briefly wobbled by three flush right hands in the final 30 seconds.
From round one, Walters focused his left hook to the body, and by the late rounds Marriaga was struggling to keep up the pace. A counter straight right put Marriaga down in the eighth, and the big right hands started getting through in the 10th. Marriaga made it to the final bell (losing via scores of 119-108, 118-109, 117-110), and credited Walters’ skill and size as the fight’s determining factors.
“I got tired at the end,” he admitted. He’s very strong for a fighter his size. I felt like I was fighting a welterweight. He’s gotten better since the last time we fought.”
WALTERS VS. LOMACHENKO: These two are the best fighters at featherweight and both under the Top Rank umbrella — making this unification is a no-brainer. I’m not worried about Walters not making weight. He missed 126 by a pound; that’s a matter of discipline and inactivity, not outgrowing the weight. As for picking a winner, I lean towards the Axeman’s aggressiveness, power and size to outwork and neutralize Lomachenko’s speed.[youtube https://youtu.be/v78RbRr2SBk]
INJURED VERDEJO FLOORS NAJERA TWICE IN UNANIMOUS DECISION: Red-hot prospect Felix Verdejo came into last night’s fight with an injured left hand, but still dominated previously undefeated Ivan Najera. If there’s any criticism to give Verdejo, it’s that he tends to get very wild in exchanges. Against Najera, he could get away with it being the bigger puncher. But when he faces someone with an equal punch and iron chin, things will get interesting.[youtube https://youtu.be/BmkibkFcbe8]