Featherweights Nonito Donaire and Nicholas Walters will clash on the undercard of HBO’s Oct. 18 show headlined by Gennady Golovkin (against Marco Antonio Rubio), according to Tom Loeffler of K2 Promotions. It’s a great fight between to of the top featherweights in the world (Donaire is the #2 contender and Walters the #5, according to the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board) and adds to the appeal of the card in a big way, since nobody gives Rubio a chance in the main event. It also promises a whole heap of action, with Walters (24-0, 20 KO) possessing the kind of aggression that brings out the best in the often flaky, sometimes spectacular Donaire (33-2, 21 KO).
That flaky-ness makes me favor Walters (above), who really is a nasty puncher for a small, skinny man. He’s also younger and fresher than Donaire and has a five inch reach advantage. Donaire at times seemed to struggle with Vic Darchinyan before knocking him out last year, Walters steamrolled him. Perhaps you can chalk that up to Donaire doing it first, or to styles, but let’s remember that Donaire annihilated Darchinyan in 2007. The man seems to have regressed, though beating a young, technically adept puncher like Walters would be a great way to show he’s still at the top of his game. And Walters is relatively inexperienced: Darchinyan is the only elite fighter he’s faced. It’s an even money fight.
All that good stuff aside, it’s a weird fight. Why are Walters and Donaire, both promoted by Top Rank, fighting on a K2 card? Why is Donaire, who Top Rank claimed they were trying to build into a draw in Macau, fighting in California now? Why choose Walters, a scary puncher recently emerged from relative obscurity in Jamaica, instead of another opponent who could bring in more fans/money? Sometimes boxing doesn’t make sense, but when its weirdness produces great fights like this, I’m happy to look the other way.
Of course, the real loser in all of this is Simpiwe Vetyeka, who Donaire defeated in a weird-and-shifty in May, and who he said he would rematch. Sorry Simpiwe.