Jamaica has a new boxing hero in Nicholas “Axe Man” Walters who scored the biggest win of his career in dramatic fashion on Saturday.
The Montego Bay-born Walters stopped Nonito “Filipino Flash” Donaire in the sixth round, winning the WBA featherweight title in an all-action thriller at the StubHub Center, Carson, California.
This was the chief support to the Gennady Golovkin-Marco Antonio Rubio middleweight main event, which Golovkin won easily in two rounds. It was great exposure for Walters in front of a packed house of 9,000.
This was a huge win for Walters (25-0, 21 KOs) who faced an opponent who until recently was being touted as Manny Pacquiao’s successor as a Filipino legend.
Donaire only lost for the third time in 36 bouts, but by the emphatic way Walters took his best shots before dismantling him, he appears to be finished at elite level.
“We worked hard for this victory,” Walters, 28, said. “Donaire is a super great champion. I know I have to respect him, and that’s what I did. He caught me with a few shots.”
Walters won 10 of his last 11 fights by stoppage while climbing from obscurity and winning one version of the WBA title. He learnt his trade from his father, Joe, a former boxer, beginning boxing aged 10 and had his first professional fight six years ago in Panama.
Walters spent most of his early career in Panama where he fought in relative obscurity but gained from having excellent sparring, coaching and learning fights against locals.
Walters thrilled his compatriots by winning the WBA featherweight title by seventh round stoppage of Daulis Prescott in Kingston two years ago and then made two more impressive stoppage wins before the Donaire triumph.
Donaire, 31, was a serious step up in class for Walters, but he handled him comfortably with his signature chopping blows, hence his ring name.
Donaire was dropped in the third round from an uppercut for a count. He fell face first from the final shot – a right hand on the side of the head – and despite getting up just before the 10 count, the referee wisely stopped the bout after 2 minutes, 59 seconds.
Donaire is a three-time world champion and sounded resigned to setting his sights lower in the future. “I’ve got to go back to the drawing board,” Donaire said. “I know I can’t compete with guys like Walters.”
“I’ve never seen a featherweight with as much power as Walters,” Top Rank promoter Bob Arum said. “Nothing like the concussive power this kid has.”