By Eric Duran
HBO Boxing in association with Top Rank, returned to the legendary Madison Square Garden Theater in New York City for a presentation HBO Boxing After Dark to showcase Nicholas Walters. Rising Puerto Rican prospect Felix Verdejo took center stage just one night before the annual Puerto Rican day parade in New York City. The Theater has been the starting point for many Hall Of Fame fighters such as Roy Jones Jr. and Arturo Gatti
In the main event, Nicholas Walters (26-0, 21 KO’s) battled amateur nemesis, Miguel Marriaga (20-1, 18 KO’s). Walters is one of boxing biggest rising stars in recent years, knocking out pound for pound fighter Nonito Donaire in his last fight. The battle before the fight began yesterday as Walters failed to make, losing his WBA Super Featherweight title on the scale. Although Walters is unable to retain his title, Marriaga is still able to win the championship as he was successful in making the mandatory weight limit for tonight’s main event. Walters used an educated game plan tonight to defeat his amateur rival Marriaga tonight from New York City. Verdejo’s power was not on display tonight as decided to cautiously box and outsmart his opponent. Fight fans have fallen in love with Walters game changing power but he showed a different side of his game as proved he can a technical boxer. Walters still slugged it out at times, dropping Marriaga with a counter right hand in the 9th round.
In the co-main event, former Olympian Felix Verdejo made his cable network debut against Ivan Najera, defending his WBO Latino Lightweight title. Verdejo is being touted as the next great champion from Puerto Rico, following in the footsteps of Felix Trinidad and Miguel Cotto. Rising prospect and future superstar, Felix Verdejo (18-0, 13 KO’s) won a unanimous decision over Ivan Najera (16-1, 8 KO’s). Verdejo simply outclassed Najera, dropping him twice over 12 one sided rounds. Najera was a game opponent but Verdejo was never in trouble as he proved to be too highly skilled for Najera. Verdejo, from Puerto Rico, is being compared to some island greats such as Felix Trinidad and Miguel Cotto. Verdejo showed he has the left hook of Cotto and the power of Trindad, leaving Najera frustrated in the ring. Although Verdejo didn’t close the show with a spectacular knockout, he proved why many believe he will be a future superstar.
After the fight, Verdejo confirms he has a broken left hand that will require surgery. Verdejo says the hand was broken before he entered the ring.
Walters vs. Marriaga
Walters out boxes Marriaga over 12 exciting rounds of action.
Super featherweight Nicholas Walters uses a strategic game plan to defeat Miguel Marriaga. Walters didn’t show the fight ending power were accustomed to.
Marriaga is nervous under the bright lights as he opens with an overhand right to get the action started in round 1. Walters is trying to control the distance a stiff jab but Marriaga lands a left hook. Walters focusing on e body, landing left hooks under the right elbow of Marriaga. A solid round for both fighters as neither fighter is backing down from one another.
Marriaga lands a solid counter uppercut to get the action started in round 2. The action is heating as both fighters are landing heavy fisted punches in the center of the ring. Walters is landing powerful shots on the inside. Marriaga is a tremdous body puncher as he continues to connect to Walters body.
Walters lands a left hook to the body as Marriaga drops his elbow to try and block it. Both fighters connect on the inside as they drop their hands and trade hooks. Walters is controlling the pace and the ring through three rounds of action.
Marriaga sneaks in a right hand stopping Walters in tracks to open round 4. A follow up attack from Marriaga has Walters covering up s,omg the ropes. A solid right hand from Marriaga hurts Walters in the corner. Marriaga enjoys. His best round of the fight as he hurt Walters with a powerful right hand.
Walters opens round 5 with a combination to the body and head of Marriaga. Walters is opening up more in the round, unloading his feared power shots. Marriaga isn’t fazed though as he fires back. Walters is showing good head movement and defense as Marriaga opens up with combinations.
Good combination from Marriaga to open round 6. The pace has visibly slowed in round 7 as Walters is reluctant to trade with Marriaga. Walters is content with using his boxing skills while Marriaga is trying to end the fight with every right hand he throws.
Walters is landing some very accurate, timed punches on the inside to begin round 7. Marriaga catches Walters with a overhand right. Walters accuracy and volume punching is the only answer he has for Marriaga’s overhand right. Walters lands a left hook to the body and Marriaga is visibly affected by it.
Walters is using feints to lands single shots onto Marriaga to open round 8.walters continues to outbox Marriag on the inside, refusing to stand and trade with his opponent. Marriaga lands an excellent left hook to the body as Walters backs out. Walters cracks Marriaga with a solid right hand as he is now opening up with his trademark power shots.
Walters is now warming up as he connects with tremendous power shots on the inside. Walters goes back to being patient, attacking Marriaga with feints on the inside. Marriaga isn’t frustrated though as continues to try and land his right hand. Walters catches Marriaga off balance and drops him with a right hand.
Walters is jabbing and boxing on the inside here in round 10. Marriaga is still fighting strong but Walters has outlander him by 100 punches heading into the 10th round.
A solid left uppercut from Walters hurts Marriaga in the 11th round. Marriaga lands an overhand right but Walters is unaffected by it. Marraiaga’s output has slowed as Walters culminating attack is slowing him down.
Walters has stayed to his game plan for the entire fight, boxing and out slugging Marriaga through 12 rounds. Marriage may have hurt Walters with a overhand right. Salts presses forward and lands a left hook to the body. Walters closes the show with another solid round.
Official scorecards: 118-109, 117-110, 119-108 all in favor of Nicholas Walters who improves to 26-0, 21 KOs.
Verdejo vs. Najera
Verdejo channels his inner Trinidad/Cotto, decisions Najera over 12 rounds of solid action.
WBO Latino Lightweight champion Felix Verdejo defends his title with a unanimous decision over Ivan Najera. Verdejo dropped Najer in the 5th and 7th rounds of their title bout.
Verdejo starts round 1 behind a range finding jab, using the center of the ring. Verdejo opens up with a nice left hook behind the guard of Najera. Verdejo is positioned in the center of the ring, outboxing and using good head movement to keep Najera at bay and unsure of his attack.
After an opening round of feeling each other out, both fighters are starting to trading leather to begin round 2. Verdejo lands straight right hand, left hook combo, driving Najera back into the ropes. Verdejo’s jab’s giving Najera problems as he unable to see it nor counter it. Verdejo with a solid round as he is proving to be too fast and skilled for Najera.
Verdejo is using incredible footwork as steps away from Najeras attack in round 3. As Najer attack and Verdejo avoids, Verdejo counters with a check hook. Verdejo is having success with single, speedy punches from the outside. Verdejo cracks Najera with. Straight right hand as round 3 comes to an end.
Najera is pressing e action here in round 4 as he tries and so there Verdejo. Najera is having some success as lands some decent body shots. The action seems to have angered Verdejo as ferociously fires back, Landing a left hook to the body of Najera, hurting him badly. A solid round of back and forth action from both fighters as they trade and land powerful shots to end the round.
Solid left hook to the body from Verdejo hurts Najera here in round 5. The action has slowed from the hectic pace in round 4. A left uppercut from Verdejo drops Najera. Verdejo is trying to the finish the fight along the ropes. Verdejo is beginning to hurt Najera with powerful offensive arsenal.
Najera is game even after suffering a knockout in the previous round, trying to pressure Verdejo back into a corner. Verdejo isn’t fazed simply counters and slips away from the attack. Verdejo has fallen back into a counter punching mode as looks to capabilities on Najeras mistakes. Najera may have had his best round as he out landed Verdejo in round 6.
Both fighters are landing 40% of their punches heading into round 7. Verdejo lands a lead uppercut from the outside as Najera walks in. Najera lands a solid left hook as Verdejo responds with a straight right. A solid check left hook from Verdejo drops Najero near the end of the round.
Verdejo is using his feet to setup his offense in round 8, stepping around and drilling Najera with combinations. Verdejo traps Najera along the ropes and unloads a combinations as Najera has become target practice.
Najera is all heart as continues to his best and provide Verdejo with a stiff test here in round 9. Verdejo has slowed down his pace in the round and Najera is visibly frustrated with it as he shrugs his shoulders. Verdejo responds with a quick left uppercut followed by a combination.
Verdejo is telling his corner an that he has hurt his left land in the fight heading into the final round.
Verdejo is still unloading powerful right hands but hasn’t thrown a significant left hand in the final round. Najera lands a nice right hand as Verdejo is caught with guard down. Najera is pressuring Verdejo as the fight comes to an end.
Official scorecards: 100-88 x2, 99-89 all in favor of Felix Verdejo who improves to 18-0, 13 KOs.