Boxing Preview: HBO Has The Return of Nicholas Walters on Saturday (June 13)

World Featherweight champion Nicholas Walters came out of 2014 one of the hottest fighters on the planet. With decisive stoppage wins over world champions Vic Darchinyan and Nonito Donaire, the undefeated (25-0) Jamaican received consideration for “2014 Fighter of the Year”. As a measure of his upgraded profile, Walters is the headline fight at New York’s venerable Madison Square Garden this Saturday night, and the fight airs on HBO in the United States as he defends his WBA World title against the challenge of Colombia’s Miguel Marriaga. Walters enters the fight a comfortable (-1000) favorite, with the comeback on Marriaga paying at (+650). There is no over/under set for the scheduled twelve round title fight. For Walters, it is not a fight that he should take likely, as he is on the cusp of big things. Potential match-ups at Featherweight down the line for Walters include Abner Mares, Britain’s newly crowned IBF Featherweigfht champion Lee Selby, Leo Santa Cruz and Gary Russell Jr to name a few. Like most boxers who have jumped a level and find themselves nearing the top, Walters is looking to cash in for a big money figt, and Marriaga is not that. Marriaga however, may represent a far sterner test than expected if all the factors play out. Marriaga is (20-0) with an impressive 18 stoppages and his career has a lot of similarities to that of Walters. Both came up with extensive amateur backgrounds in the rugged caribbean region, and in fact, Marriaga beat Walters in an amateur bout during an Olympic Qualifier. Walters spent the early part of his career fighting in Panama, and there were questions about his level of competition. Walters has since answered those questions. For Marriaga, his record is built up on the circuit in his native Colombia, though he has responded by winning fights in Mexico and the United States. He knocked out veteran Christopher Martin (28-3-3) in the 6th round of their bout in Santa Monica, California that aired on ESPN2. Marriage started his pro career about a year after Walters, and now Walters represents to him what Donaire represented for Walters – the keys to the big time. The co-main event has undefeated Felix Verdejo defending his WBO Latino title in a ten rounder against Ivan Najera, who is also undefeated at (16-0). Verdejo is a heavy (-4000) favorite over rival Najera, who comes back at (+2000). Verdejo is the showcase fighter in this one, as the twenty two year old Puerto Rican fighter has his sights set on bigger and better things. Verdejo has a long amateur resume and he turned pro in December of 2012 shortly after fighting in the 2012 Olympic games. Top Rank has him on a fast track, as he fought seven times in 2014. Since he has been a pro he has been handled well and given the opportunities to fight on high profile cards such as the Nonito Donaire – Guillermo Rigondeauz bout at Radio City Music Hall in April of 2013, the November of 2013 Manny Pacquiao versus Brandon Rios fight in Macao and the Miguel Cotto versus Sergio Martinez fight last June at Madison Square Garden. Najera has fought on some nice events as well and he has performed well, however he has a fight in California and the rest of his record is built on fights in Texas and Oklahoma.

Written by Miguel

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