When Nicholas “Axe Man” Walters defeated Daulis Prescott in December 2012 to win the regular version of the World Boxing Association’s featherweight (126 pounds) title and became Jamaica’s 10th world boxing champion, the government of Jamaica rewarded him with a Mini-Cooper. It was a major upgrade for a guy who used to roam the streets without shoes.
One can only imagine the treasure chest that awaits Walters in Jamaica after he recently unified the “super” and “regular” versions of the WBA’s featherweight belt and claimed his most notable victim.
In a display of Herculean punching power, “Axe Man” Walters mercilessly chopped down “super” WBA featherweight champ Nonito Donaire Jr. and dropped the “Filipino Flash” like a log in the sixth round. Donaire, making only his third appearance in the 126-pound class, actually got off to a great start, moving in and out and clipping Walters with left hooks and right straights. In the second round, Donaire nailed Walters with his trademark left hook. However, the blow that toppled many a foe in the lower weight divisions only went as far as buckling Walters’ knees for a second or two.
The complexion of the fight completely changed in the third round. Apparently believing that Walters was ripe for the kill, Donaire started closing in and trading punches on the inside. It was the tactical blunder Walters was waiting for. With Donaire finally within his punching parameter, Walters unloaded a right uppercut that dropped Donaire. Donaire was able to beat the count, but the blow chopped off a huge chunk of his confidence. On the other end, Walters’ confidence instantly hit the roof.
His eyelids badly cut and his cheeks swelling, Donaire was reduced to a plodding fighter in the next three rounds. As his body was already on the verge of betraying him, Donaire answered the sixth round bell looking to drastically alter the momentum with a desperate heave. He did the same thing in November 2013, when he rallied to stop Vic Darchinyan with a go-for-broke punch.
Walters came prepared, though. Anticipating Donaire’s bail-out plan, he wisely sidestepped a wild left from Donaire and countered with a brain-rattling right hook that literally turned off the switch inside Donaire’s head. Donaire crashed face-first and while he was able to regain the equilibrium in his legs, referee Raul Caiz Jr. wisely stopped the contest when the Filipino’s knees buckled again.
Walters improved his record to 25-0 with 21 knockouts and completed his rise from anonymity. The oldest of three children, all of whom boxed at one time or another, Walters developed an interest in boxing at age 4, when his father Job, a former featherweight boxer, gifted him with a pair of gloves. It was while competing in the amateur ranks when Walters earned the nickname “Axe Man.” Walters was egging on a teammate to beat up his foe like an axe and when the latter failed to do it, he stepped into the ring for his match and accomplished the task by stopping his opponent. A fan at ringside witnessed the entire incident and called Walters “the real Axe Man.”
The nickname has since been part of Walters’ ring persona, and it was never more evident than in the fight against Donaire. Walters predicted a knockout victory within the first 6 rounds of the fight and he delivered. Walters is now the hottest name in the 126-pound class and Bob Arum of Top Rank Promotions is reportedly mulling a unification showdown with WBC counterpart Jhonny Gonzalez of Mexico.
For his part, the loss to Walters ended Donaire’s multi-division odyssey. He has been chasing division titles he forgot that his body can accommodate only so much weight. Donaire will go down to 122 pounds not because he wants to, but because it is the only move he can make.
Even before the Walters fight, there were already loose whispers that Donaire was already slipping. The Walters fight being his second loss in his last four fights, Donaire’s career is now at the crossroads. He is likely to return to the ring as no champion wants to end his career on a sour note. Donaire, however, may want to give his body a second look. Regardless of the result, his body has been taking a beating. He busted his hand in winning a decision over Wilfredo Vasquez in 2012; dislocated his shoulder in a losing effort against Guillermo Rigon-deaux and fractured his cheekbone in the rematch win over Darchinyan in 2013. Mentally, Donaire may feel that he is still up for a big comeback, but physically his body is screaming for some time off.
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