This past Saturday at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, Vasyl Lomachenko dominated the previously undefeated, former featherweight world champion Nicholas Walters (26-0-1, 21 KOs). The matchup of two top super featherweights in their primes figured to be similar to the great matchup preceding it the previous Saturday in Kovalev-Ward. Unlike Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev however, this matchup failed to produce the type of intriguing, competitive fight we all had hoped (and many predicted) it would be. None of that, however, was Vasyl Lomachenko’s fault, as he boxed a superb fight and closed the show.
Nicholas Walters should have continued on, at the very least for one more round to go for broke. It is Indeed easier to say when you are on the outside looking in, but that is why he is a prize fighter and why he was a world champion fighting on a main event card in Las Vegas. These are the expectations deservedly thrust upon him. Simply put, Walters did not perform. He did not bring with him a good game plan, adjustments, confidence or intensity. From ringside, it looked as if he walked in a beaten man, and if he wasn’t on the way to the ring, he was soon after.
Nicholas Walters could not have done much more to have derailed his career in one night, and honestly, it was sad and disappointing to see. When Nicholas was coming off of a superb performance in Los Angeles in knocking out Nonito Donaire two years ago, it looked as if a star may have been born. After knocking out a future hall of famer in Donaire, he dazzled the media speaking in Spanish to the Spanish-speaking media, and remained outspoken in English to everybody else.
Those two years now seem so long ago for Walters. Walters has typically been a good body puncher, but he was headhunting and missing all night long. Lomachenko made the “Axeman” gunshy, largely reducing him to trying to land a lucky right hand up top as Lomachenko bounced in and out. But Walters never timed him as Lomachenko piled up the punches more and more as the fight progressed.
Vasyl Lomachenko got off to a slow start himself, showing Walters a lot of respect early on for his punching power. A funny moment came at the end of the 5th round, as Lomachenko taunted Walters and did what fans are calling his version of the mannequin challenge. It was funny, but it did highlight the reluctance of both fighters, more so Walters, to engage. After that round, however, Lomachenko did what a top fighter such as himself was supposed to do: he moved in to close the show.
Lomachenko showed off some amazing foot and hand speed in unveiling his best combinations of the night in the 7th and final round, showing why he is called “high tech.” In all likelihood, Lomachenko was going to get the stoppage the way the audience really wanted to see it happen. That is when Walters made the surprising decision to retire in his corner, and call it a night. It surely was not an entertaining fight for most fight fans, but towards the end, Lomachenko put on a top-notch display of Boxing ability and finished the job.
While I believe that HBO is jumping the gun in trying to anoint Vasyl Lomachenko as the best fighter pound-for-pound in Boxing, he is certainly proving himself as an elite fighter. His wins over Gary Russell and Nicholas Walters are two superb victories over top fighters in their primes. Going forward, he needs to get a rematch immediately with Orlando Salido. After that, I like a matchup that a friend and colleague suggested: Carl Frampton. Frampton is an undefeated world champion, is now very highly regarded, and can box very well himself. While Lomachenko would certainly be the favorite, it would be a big fight and a good matchup of two talented fighters. Outside of that, of course, we just want to see Loma fight the best. Whether it be Oscar Valdez, Guillermo Rigondeaux, Francisco Vargas, or even Jose Pedraza or Takashi Uchiyama. If you want to see one of the best in the world, you’ll be tuning in next time Vasyl Lomachenko is inside of the ring.