Photo by Naoki Fukuda
Nicholas Walters (25-0, 21 KOs) scored a spectacular sixth-round knockout victory over Nonito Donaire (33-2, 21 KOs) to win the WBA “Super” Featherweight title at the StubHub Center in Carson, California.
The scheduled 12-round fight was the co-main event of a card presented by K2 Promotions and, for this fight, Top Rank Promotions.
Donaire, 31, who hails from Talibon, Philippines and who was the 2012 Fighter of the Year, had not been looking like his usual self after losing to Guillermo Rigondeaux in 2013.
After struggling to defeat Vic Darchinyan in 2013 and looking less-than-spectacular in his world title win over Simpiwe Vetyeka earlier this year, many felt that we were witnessing the twilight of Donaire’s career.
Walters, 28, who is from Montego Bay, Jamaica, may have vindicated fans’ predictions tonight as he was dominant in nearly every round, using his size and reach advantage to overwhelm Donaire.
A rise in weight class—Donaire was most recently at Super Bantamweight—might have been a major factor, or perhaps it was Donaire’s age.
Donaire, however, didn’t offer any excuses.
“I thought that I’d be good at this weight class. I was at my best. I never trained this hard. The size that he had over me—I couldn’t move,” said Donaire.
In the opening rounds, the size advantage was clear and Donaire was careful in his offense as he landed body shots and used the ring to keep Walters off balance.
At the end of the second round, however, we were granted a glimpse at the Donaire of 2012, who was hurt briefly on the ropes before landing a powerful left hook that wobbled Walters.
“I got a little bit confident. He got me pretty good and the bell rang and I went to my corner. I recuperated from the shot just by walking to the corner,” said Walters.
And recuperate he did, as Walters dealt with Donaire’s increasing aggression in the third round and fourth rounds, when Donaire began to slowly get comfortable.
This would, unfortunately for Donaire, end very quickly as Donaire was dropped by a powerful uppercut that landed through his guard.
Donaire did his best to fight back in round five by working at close range and landing right hands and left hooks.
However, the size and strength advantage Walters had proved to be too much as Donaire was eventually knocked down and out with an overhand right in the sixth round.
After tonight, Donaire will consider retirement.
“I got to go back to the drawing board. I know that I cannot compete with guys like Walters,” said Donaire.
Walters, on his part, celebrated his victory after years of hard work and welcomes new challenges in the future.
“This victory didn’t just come out of nowhere. I worked hard,” said Walters.