Last week we told you that Ward vs. Kovalev was the most important boxing bout of 2016, and the two technicians delivered with a closely-fought clinic that has everyone clamoring for a rematch. Just one week later, you can expect perhaps the second most significant boxing contest of the year when Vasyl Lomachenko (6-1) takes on Nicholas Walters (28-0-1) in Las Vegas, with the WBO world super featherweight title on the line.
But here’s what this fight really means for you: a chance to watch two of the hardest-hitting, best young champions in the sport clash for a chance to reach super stardom. There is little doubt that both men will be hungry to do just that.
Read on for our guide to Saturday’s biggest fight!
- The Southpaw was a two-time Olympic boxing gold medalist (2008, 2012)
- The Ukrainian became world amateur boxing champion in 2009 and 2011
- Compiled an astounding 396-1 amateur record, overall
- Turned pro at the age of 25, in October of 2013
- Became just the second fighter in professional boxing history to win a world-title in his third contest
- Combines thudding punching power with perhaps the fastest hands in boxing
- Is a volume puncher
- Combines excellent head movement with good footwork to be as elusive, defensively, as he is potent, offensively
- His promoter, Bob Arum of Top Rank, says that they may be gunning to get a match up with Manny Pacquiao within a year
- After just seven professional fights, is already considered one of the best boxers in the world, pound-for-pound
- The Jamaican has not fought in nearly a year
- Considered the biggest challenge for Lomachenko to date
- One of the most powerful single-punch KO artists in the sport
- Has impressive stoppage wins over greats like Nonito Donaire and Vic Darchinyan
- Changes levels often and smoothly to make the location and targets of his punches unpredictable
- Is a patient and tactical fighter, who hits openings, hard
- Has a devastating uppercut to the head off of his level-change
Conclusion: Like last week’s Ward vs. Kovalev, this is an incredibly difficult fight to predict with certainty. Lomachenko makes up for his inexperience as a pro with a lifetime of amateur competition.
Lomachenko is confident that he will be too technical and elusive to get caught by Walters, and will out-slick and out-pace him enough to win. For his part, Walters says he’s “in the hurting business,” and is confident that Lomachenko can’t evade him for 12 full rounds, and that he’ll ultimately succumb to his punching power.
Both men are likely to be tested in new ways – Walters by Lomachenko’s speed, and Lomachenko’s conditioning and chin vetted by Walters’ heavy hands – and we could very well get a different result on any given night between these two. One thing seems clear, however, this is the right fight at the right time, and the winner will deservedly make a step-up in notoriety and in pound-for-pound rankings.