By Sean Crose
Believe it or not, we can all stop complaining for a moment. For on Saturday, right before our very eyes, HBO will present a boxing card that’s actually worthy of pay cable. Thought you’d have to wait until November to see Bernard Hopkins battle Sergey Kovalev, didn’t you? In its quest to position itself as the anti-Al Haymon network, Home Box Office is giving viewers a chance to see Gennady Golovkin fight the tough and seasoned Marco Antonio Rubio.
The goodies don’t end there, though.
For the undercard of the Golovkin-Rubio bout will feature one of the best matchups of the year, when would-be legend Nonito Donaire battles to be WBA featherweight king against Nicholas Walters. Never heard of Walters before? Let’s just say he’s more than a worthy competitor for the “Filipino Flash.” For Walters has a record of 24-0 with a whopping 20 knockouts to his name. Remember the trouble Vic Darchinyan gave Donaire last November?
Well, Walters absolutely punched Darchinyan’s lights out around six months later.
“If Donaire isn’t right,” Walters has said, “he’s going to get knocked out.”
These were more than empty words. The truth is Donaire must indeed be on his game this Saturday at the StubHub Center in California. He hasn’t exactly looked like dynamite since losing to Guillermo Rigondeaux awhile back, and he certainly must be in top form to beat Walters.
Like Rigondeaux, Walters has a great defense (he zips in and out on an opponent like a hornet). Unlike Rigondeaux, however, he possesses stunning power. The much larger Wladimir Klitschko is the only name fighter this author has seen who is simultaneously so powerful and so patient. Walters won’t rush things. He’ll keep zipping about, until just the right moment. And then his opponent may not even see it coming.
Not that Donaire is any slouch. Not by a long shot. Walters would do well to keep in mind that until rather recently, Donaire was considered by many analysts to be one of the very best fighters on the entire planet. “Walters,” Donaire has admitted, “is a good champion.” Still, he’s not totally sold. “How many quality fights has he (Walters) been in compared to where I have been in my career?”
Chances are Walters is going to be in a quality fight this Saturday night.
“It’s an explosive fight,” Donaire’s said. “This is going to end in a knockout. I will go into the ring and do my best.” Lots of fight people throw words like “explosive” around in order to hype a bout. Donaire may have been right to use it in this case, however. For this matchup is the real thing. And frankly, it can’t come soon enough. HBO boxing seemed to have gone on an extended vacation these past endless weeks. As for the Haymon-centric Showtime, well, it’s been broadcasting Haymon-centric garbage (why bother sugar coating it at this point?). Boxing fans have had to tune into outlets like Fox Sport’s 1, NBC Sport’s Network and ESPN 2 to get their fix lately.
Simply put, it’s nice to finally have some HBO-worthy fights being broadcast on HBO this weekend.
Both Donaire and Walters seem to respect one another. “Donaire is a very good champion,” Walters has claimed. “We both have speed and power.” Indeed, both men have what it takes to put on a good show. Needless to say, this is an exceedingly important bout for both men. A victory would send Walters into the stratosphere. Accordingly, a defeat would send Donaire into oblivion. Both men absolutely must perform well. Their respective careers simply depend on it.
“But you know what?” Walters has asked rhetorically. “Donaire stepped up and took this fight. He didn’t have to. For that I respect him for getting in the ring with me.”
And, in this day and age of joke bouts and easy paychecks, fight fans can respect both men for being willing to put it all on the line.