by Cliff Rold

Say hello to the new guy.

One fight after potentially ending the career of Vic Darchinyan, Jamaica’s Nicholas Walter may have ended Nonito Donaire’s time as an elite among the Featherweight and below set on Saturday night.  Outside of a wobbly moment late in the second, Walters was the bigger, badder man.

And then he lowered the axe. 

Featherweight, with Walters, Lomachenko, and Evgeny Gradovich, is experiencing a youth movement among its titlists.  Will unification make the flush of youth count?

Let’s go to the report card.


Pre-Fight: Speed – Donaire A; Walters B/Post: Same 

Pre-Fight: Power – Donaire A; Walters A/Post: Same

Pre-Fight: Defense – Donaire B+; Walters B/Post: B; B+

Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Donaire A; Walters B+/Post: A; A

Walters got the biggest adversity of his career when Donaire landed a bomb in the second and we got a look at why Walters might be around for a stay.  Some young fighters would have panicked against a bigger name.  He didn’t. 

In the pre-fight report card, the historical difficulty of the jump from Flyweight to Featherweight was noted and it came into play Saturday.  Walters was the first natural Featherweight of class Donaire faced and, adding in this era of dramatic rehydration, the task gets harder.

Donaire can move back down or remain and find winnable fights.  Jhonny Gonzalez, who started lower on the scale, would be a fun match and Donaire would be favored.  Anyone not named Rigondeaux at 122 versus Donaire is quality.

We’ll see where the “Flash” goes from here.

Walters is the real story.  He showed not just a good jab and power when he needed it.  He also showed some defense.  He wasn’t unhittable but after the second, he slipped and blocked well enough to avoid another dangerous moment.  His issue will be how long he can make 126.  He’s a broad shouldered fighter with a Jr. Welterweight frame. 

Let’s hope it’s long enough to at least see Lomachenko.  Despite a lack of professional experience, the talent for the Ukrainian is high and his speed and feet match well with Walters’s power and methodical pressure.  Featherweight, long sort of floating along, has a fight to build towards.

And no clear favorite.

What more can we ask for?          

Report Card Picks 2014: 49-20

Cliff’s Notes…

Gennady Golovkin did what was expected in a moribund Middleweight division where Marco Antonio Rubio can still count as top ten.  That should temper reactions but doesn’t mean he isn’t the goods.  Golovkin is the uncrowned king at Middleweight.  That status lasts until Miguel Cotto, or the winner of Cotto-Canelo Cunningham, fight him.  The real question is how long he wastes time at 160.  168 is the more challenging field right now and the place where Golovkin can get himself some fights.  There’s nothing wrong with trying to finish what he started at Middleweight, but the thought of Golovkin at 168 is far more mouth watering.    

Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America.  He can be reached at