LONDON (12 June) – Thrilling featherweight world champion Nicholas ‘Axe Man’ Walters says he doesn’t recall losing to Columbian hard-hitter Miguel Marriaga as an amateur.
The undefeated pair do battle this Saturday night, live and exclusive on BoxNation, with Jamaican sensation Walters putting his WBA crown on the line at the iconic Madison Square Garden in New York.
29-year-old Walters burst onto the scene last year with an emphatic sixth round stoppage over 2012 Fighter of the Year Nonito Donaire, seeing his record go to 25-0 with 21 wins coming from knockout.
However, Walters has tasted defeat as an amateur that coming against the man he faces this weekend, something which he doesn’t remember too well.
“Marriaga may have beaten me in the amateurs but I do not remember it. Besides, those fights are four rounds. On Saturday we will be fighting 12 rounds,” said Walters.
“He may be bringing his ‘A Game’ but I am bringing my ‘A-Plus Game’. I have trained for a knockout victory. I am going to destroy him,” he said. The
Montego Bay banger is also open to taking on any challengers, with a unification bout with WBO champion Lomachenko having been mooted this week, as Walters first looks forward to fighting at the legendary ‘Mecca of Boxing’.
“I am overwhelmed to be fighting at Madison Square Garden, the Mecca of Boxing, because so many of boxing’s great champions have fought here. It is hallowed ground. It is my honour and I want to give my best performance there.
“To be great – to be known as the best – you have to beat the best and I am ready to take on all champions in my division and beyond,”
Walters said. Big-punching Marriaga, known as ‘The Scorpion’ due to his sting, has amassed an impressive 20 wins and no losses with 18 coming by way of knockout.
He has laughed off Walters suggestion that he has forgot about his loss to him and is convinced he will produce the same result now as a professional.
“Of course Walters doesn’t remember me beating him for a spot on the Olympic team – because he lost! He’s not going to remember this Saturday for the same reason,” said Marriaga.
“I have the strength and the intelligence to beat him and I will use my strength and intelligence. After I beat Walters again on Saturday I look forward to unifying the titles in my next fight,” he said.
This Saturday’s card also sees future superstar Felix Verdejo in action as he takes on undefeated Ivan Najera in a light-welterweight contest.
The bill is guaranteed to produce fireworks, with the four undefeated fighters boasting a perfect combined record of 78-0 (60 KOs), which includes a victory by knockout ratio of 77%.
Puerto Rican hotshot Verdejo, with a record of 17-0 (11 KOs), will be doing battle during the Puerto Rican Day Parade Weekend but is aware that 22-year-old Najera represents his hardest test to date.
“It is an honour to be fighting on Puerto Rican Day Parade Weekend in boxing’s most historic building, Madison Square Garden. I have dreamed of doing this for so long.
“And then on Sunday I will be riding on a float in the parade. But first I need to prove myself worthy of these honours,” said Verdejo.
“Najera is my toughest test as a professional and I have worked very hard in training camp. I am prepared to go mano a mano on Saturday night. I will be fighting not just for myself but for the pride of Puerto Ricans everywhere,” he said.
Najera, though, is confident of springing the upset and tearing up the script.
“I am ready for my moment – my date with destiny. I am here to do what I always do – to spoil the party. I have sacrificed so much to be ready for Saturday night but I will be dining out on this victory for years to come.
“June 13 will be remembered as Ivan Najera’s ‘Coming Out Party!’,” he said.
Walters vs Marriaga is live and exclusive on BoxNation (Sky437/490HD, Virgin 525, TalkTalk 415) this Saturday night. Visit boxnation.com to subscribe.