By John J. Raspanti
This Saturday night at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, NV, WBO super featherweight champion Vasyl Lomachenko will defend his championship belt against former featherweight titleholder Nicholas “The Axe Man” Walters.
Lomachenko, who was born in the Ukraine 28 years ago, first drew major interest as an amateur, winning the Olympic gold medal twice, and compiling a ridiculous record of 396 wins and one loss.
Turning professional in 2013, Lomachenko has accomplished more in seven fights than most boxers do in their entire careers.
He defeated Gary Russell Jr. in 2014 to win the vacant featherweight division, defended it three times against inferior competition, and then blew out Ramon Martinez in five brutal rounds last June.
Lomachenko’s footwork is extraordinary. He’s the master at making space, and using angles. His counters arrive at lightning speed. His technique is second to none. He’s a Picasso in a boxing ring.
Lately, he’s even showed a little more pop in his punches.
Yes, he’s that good.
Walters is good too. His biggest victory to date was a stoppage of a still-dangerous Nonito Donaire two years ago. Walters was buzzed in the second round, shook off the cobwebs, and systematically took apart Donaire, before knocking out the former champion in Round six.
His performance was impressive and destructive.
Walters, undefeated in 26 matches, has iced 21 opponents. The guy can really crack. He’s not called "The Axe Man" for nothing, but he’s a lot craftier in the ring than most of the masses have given him credit for.
He’s rangy, with a strong jab and a good amateur pedigree. He’ll enter the ring with a reach advantage of six inches. Walters was last seen in the ring 10 months ago fighting to a shocking (yes) draw against Jason Sosa.
Walters, who respects Lomachenko’s ability, likes his chances to pull an upset this Saturday night.
"Any fighter can be knocked out, no matter who he is," Walters said at a press conference last September. “I like fighting the best, and I like fighting against a great technical fighter like Lomachenko. Look at what happened when I fought a great technical fighter like Nonito Donaire.”
Walters has a point. There is some question about the strength of Lomachenko’s chin. He’s never appeared hurt in a fight, but, he’s also rarely hit solidly. Walters should be able to tag him with something significant.
Of course, he might have to eat three punches to land one.
Will that one be enough?
I don’t think so.
Lomachenko is on a roll right now. He looks better with each fight. His understanding of the pro game has improved. I seriously doubt that he’s underrating Walters. If he does, Walters can send him to sleep.
I see Lomachenko winning a competitive fight by decision, with bursts of agility, execution and talent.
Vasyl Lomachenko defend his World Boxing Organization (WBO) Junior Lightweight title against undefeated former world Featherweight champion Nicholas “Axe Man” Walters. Lomachenko vs. Walters will take place Saturday, November. 26, at The Chelsea inside The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. It will be televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing® beginning at 10:35 p.m. ET/PT.
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