This Saturday night in Corpus Christi, Texas, undefeated WBA featherweight champion Nicholas Walters defends his belt against veteran Alberto Garza. This is one of three world title fights on an HBO Boxing After Dark program that will also feature the return of Nonito Donaire in a non-title bout.
Nicknamed "The Axe Man," Walters is among the more exciting up-and-coming punchers in the 126-pound division. Garza brings a respectable knockout percentage himself, so this could have the ingredients for a terrific fight.
|Per Boxrec||Nicholas Walters||Alberto Garza|
|Record:||22-0, 18 KOs||25-5-1, 20 KOs|
|Weight:||126 pounds||126 pounds|
|Hometown:||Montego Bay, Jaimaca||Mexico City, Distrito Federal|
Garza is the slightly more experienced fighter, and not just in terms of total fights and rounds. He's faced a slightly better quality of opposition, even if he has not always been successful.
Both of these guys knock people out. This is the least high-profile fight on the card Saturday night, but it's got the potential to steal the show.
This fight is for the WBA featherweight title. But there are at least three WBA world champions at featherweight.
Undefeated Indonesian superstar Chris John has been the WBA featherweight champion for over a decade. But the WBA made him a "super" champion in 2009.
Javier Fortuna won the vacant WBA featherweight title in December of last year on the Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez IV card when he beat Patrick Hyland by unanimous decision. But on that exact same night, Nicholas Walters won a different version of the WBA featherweight title in Jaimaca, when he beat Daulis Prescott by Round 7 TKO.
Meanwhile, Jesus Marcelo Andres Cuellar captured yet another version of the WBA featherweight title by unanimous decision over Claudio Marrero last August.
Fortuna has since moved up to super featherweight, but that still leaves Walters and Cuellar, along with John, as reigning WBA featherweight champions of the world.
Alphabet soup titles aside, Walters hasn't beaten anybody to deserve being called a legitimate world champion. Alberto Garza is a respectable journeyman fighter, but beating him still won't make anybody think Walters is the man at 126 pounds.
Still, this has potential to be a very good fight, and it's definitely a relevant fight at featherweight. If Walters can keep knocking out opponents, Top Rank and HBO will find programming space for him.
Nicholas Walters is an athletic and explosive puncher. He has quick hands and moves in and out of range smoothly.
Walters is a strong finisher when an opponent is in trouble. He stays patient and works with methodical brutality.
Alberto Garza is a lean, awkward fighter with good punching power. He transitions well in and out of the clinch and does a good job putting his weight on an opponent.
He is an experienced veteran of a very rough and competitive domestic scene in Mexico and is a former WBC silver champion. He might not be a world-beater, but he should be a definite step up in class for Walters.
Nicholas Walters has a habit of not returning his jab hand to good defensive position. He's fought relatively low-level competition who have mostly been overwhelmed by his power.
I think his holes will show up against more experienced and gifted opponents.
Alberto Garza fights along that fine line between awkward and clumsy. Awkward throws off your opponents' timing and puts them into bad positions.
Clumsy gets you into bad positions. In boxing, clumsy can get you knocked out.
Nicholas Walters should double up his jab and attempt to get Garza moving backwards and off-balance. He should try to disrupt Garza and beat him to the punch.
This is a battle between two guys who knock out a lot of opponents, so getting off first is going to be crucial. As Walters jabs, he should step to the outside and look to wind Garza around and into an overhand right.
Walters should mix in a body attack. Garza's arms can get wide when he fights, and Walters should look to slip big counters underneath his elbows.
I think it will be pretty important for Alberto Garza to start fast in this fight. Nicholas Walters is a big puncher, and it's best to prevent a puncher from settling into any sort of rhythm or comfort zone.
Garza should look to crash over the top of Walter's jab with a lead hook. He should try to time the hook as Walters throws his jab, and he should come with a straight right in back of it.
Walters has had a relatively easy go of it so far in his career, and Garza needs to let him know things are going to be different on Saturday. Garza should attempt to force the undefeated young champion into a roughhouse war and then look to break his confidence and will in the later rounds.
I can't really bring myself to take this bout seriously as a world title fight, but Nicholas Walters and Alberto Garza are both very talented fighters in their late 20s and both stand to gain a lot by winning on Saturday night. This should be a very proper fight.
Garza has lost five times, but mostly to good fighters. He scored a pretty good win over Nery Saguilan in September 2012.
Walters is an undefeated "champion" with a string of knockouts, so he should be the clear favorite here, and I am picking him to win by a late-round TKO.
But Mexican journeymen with more losses than Garza have knocked out more highly regarded champions than Walters before, so I'm not necessarily recommending anybody take this prediction to the bank.