By Keith Idec
LAS VEGAS – Bob Arum knows a thing or two about big underdogs.
During the two weeks preceding Super Bowl XLII, the Hall-of-Fame boxing promoter told anyone who would listen to bet the Giants, who opened as a two-touchdown underdog against New England, on the money line. Arum, a Giants season-ticket holder since 1957, did exactly that and won a lot of money when the Giants, a 12-point underdog at kickoff, upset the Patriots, 17-14, in February 2008 in Glendale, Arizona.
It wouldn’t be appropriate for Arum to say something similar about Nicholas Walters, a huge underdog against Vasyl Lomachenko, because Arum promotes Jamaica’s Walters (26-0-1, 21 KOs) and Ukraine’s Vasyl Lomachenko (6-1, 4 KOs).
But based on Arum’s comments regarding their HBO “World Championship Boxing” main event Saturday night at The Cosmopolitan, he feels handicappers here in Las Vegas haven’t given Walters enough credit as their 12-round fight for Lomachenko’s WBO world super featherweight title nears.
“Walters has a great chance,” Arum told BoxingScene.com during an open workout for Lomachenko and Walters at the Top Rank boxing gym. “He’s a puncher. And he’s not a wild-swinging puncher. He’s a very clever fighter. He throws punches, he knows how to move and he’s a very dangerous fighter.”
Las Vegas sports books listed Walters as a +600 underdog as of Thursday. Those same sports books listed Lomachenko as a -900 favorite, despite that Walters is undefeated and the uniquely talented Lomachenko has just seven professional fights on his record.
HBO will televise the Lomachenko-Walters fight live Saturday night. The network’s telecast will begin at 10:35 p.m. ET with a rebroadcast of the controversial Andre Ward-Sergey Kovalev light heavyweight title fight, which Ward won by unanimous decision after overcoming a second-round knockdown Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena.
“Nicholas Walters is the hardest puncher in these divisions,” Arum said to open a conference call earlier this week. “They call him ‘The Axe Man’ for a reason. He always gives a hundred percent. And Vasyl Lomachenko is an unbelievable technician who’s done really the impossible, win two world titles in seven professional fights. So I look for a ‘Fight of the Year’ candidate on Saturday night at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.