By Jake Donovan

Gennady Golovkin makes his West Coast debut in a modified middleweight fight versus Marco Antonio Rubio, but true boxing junkies are most looking forward to the co-feature attraction. That’s because the general belief that it’s a pick-‘em affair in the featherweight title fight between Nonito Donaire, hailing from California’s Bay Area by way of Philippines, and Jamaica’s Nicholas Walters. 

Their bout opens an HBO-televised doubleheader at the StubHub Center in Carson, California.

It’s been a far fall from grace for Donaire (33-2, 21KOs), even after capturing a title in a fourth weight class earlier this year. The 2012 Fighter of the Year has struggled in each of his past three outings since a memorable campaign that saw his claim four wins and two major titles in the span of 10 months.

Since then, Donaire conceded the World super bantamweight crown in an April ’13 points loss to Guillermo Rigondeaux and required a come-from-behind rally to stop faded Vic Darchinyan in nine rounds last November.

A 5th round technical decision win over Simpiwe Vetyeka this past May saw the Fil-Am star at his most resourceful – overcoming the sight of his own blood to floor the featherweight champ. He also left a bitter taste in the mouths of viewers displeased with his opting to quit at the start of round five, allowing the bout to go to the scorecards. 

On that same show, Walters (24-0, 20KOs) made his presence felt in a big way, destroying Darchinyan in five one-sided rounds. The bout marked Walters’ second straight time sharing a card with Donaire, appearing on his undercard last November in a 4th round knockout win over Alberto Garza. 

At stake in this fight aside from alphabet glory is a possible showdown with fellow titlist Vasyl Lomachenko, who defends his belt next month in Macau. 

Will Donaire find a way to turn back the clock and turn back his younger, undefeated foe? Will Walters prove that he is as good as his pristine record, with a new star born in a venue where only the toughest survive?

Read on to see how the staff at believes Saturday’s featherweight action goes down at the StubHub Center. 
Ryan Burton (Donaire UD): “Walters is the popular pick with youth and power on his side. Even with Donaire's interest in the sport waning I think the Filipino Flash has enough left in the tank to rise off the canvas and win a decisive decision.”

Mike Coppinger (Walters KO): “Donaire hasn't seemed truly invested in boxing since his Fighter of the Year campaign in 2012. He's now fighting four pounds north of his last win that year, and against a man younger, stronger, bigger -- and perhaps most importantly -- hungrier than him. That Donarie struggled with the over-the-hill Vic Darchinyan is troubling. Walters, earlier this year, had no problems dispatching of Vic, knocking him cold with one punch. The pick here is Walters by KO in a back-and-forth affair.”
Jake Donovan (Walters UD): “This could be a very long night for Nonito Donaire, who appears to have hit his ceiling at 122. The Simpiwe Vetyeka win was a bit anti-climactic, though he showed his mettle in flooring a naturally bigger foe before quitting and taking the technical decision. Vetyeka was missing an equalizer though that is not at all a concern with Nicholas Walters, who continues to terrorize any featherweight who dares to cross his path. A stoppage through attrition is not out of the question but the guess here is that the Fil-Am star manages to hear the final bell while Walters enjoys a breakout performance.”

Lyle Fitzsimmons (Walters KO9): “Donaire’s won a bunch of belts and even got a ‘Fighter of the Year’ tag from the BWAA a couple years back. But he’s not impressed anyone in a while. He won’t here, either.”
Keith Idec (Donaire UD): “Nonito Donaire must be more careful in this fight than he has been at times. Though mostly unknown to American fight fans, Nicholas Walters might even be a bigger puncher than Donaire, particularly at featherweight. But expect Donaire to show more patience than he has in recent fights, respect Walters’ power and out-box him enough to earn a hard-fought points win.”

Ryan Maquiñana (Donaire Dec.): “The pressure is on Nonito Donaire to prove he’s still an elite fighter after a couple of subpar outings. Nicholas Walters presents a worthy challenge with his height and punching power. But I think Donaire uses his movement to get in and out of trouble and eke out a close decision.”

Cliff Rold (Walters KO): “Nicholas Walters is a sort of sexy pick and for good reason. Walters is talented, heavy-handed and bigger. Nonito Donaire has been inconsistent for several years and was a miracle shot from being outboxed to a loss in the Vic Darchinyan rematch. This looks like ships passing.”

Reynaldo Sanchez (Walters late TKO): “Nonito no longer has advantages he had at 118 and 122; now as featherweight he has failed to succeed and I think Walters will put a lot of pressure at the start of the fight. Nonito will fall at the end of this fight, losing by TKO in the late rounds.”

Alexey Sukachev (Walters Maj. Dec.): “If anything, Donaire is as durable as they come. He is also past his peak and slowly fading. His victory over Vetyeka was unimpressive as much as subpar was his performance in a rematch versus Darchinyan. Against Walters he will be outpunched and outgunned and maybe even outboxed by a fresher fighter though it won't be easy for the Jamaica. He should be aware of Donaire's left.”

Anson Wainwright (Donaire Dec.): “Nicholas Walters enters this fight on a great run, winning the title and then impressing with two nice stoppage wins. The most recent knockout was against Vic Darchinyan. Meanwhile, Nonito Donaire hasn’t looked the same at 126 as he did at lower weights. That said, Donaire has operated at a higher level than Walters and I see Walters aggression being key to Donaire’s success. Walters will have his successes but Donaire will counter him and get a knockdown along the way to winning a solid fight on points somewhere in the 116-112 range.”

Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox