Two of boxing’s best super featherweights, Vasyl Lomachenko and Nicholas Walters, are set to square off in Las Vegas during Thanksgiving weekend.
Top Rank announced this week that Lomachenko (6-1, 4 KO) will be defending his WBO 130-pound title against the unbeaten Walters (26-0-1, 21 KO), formerly the WBA 126-pound champion, on Saturday, Nov. 26, at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
Vasyl Lomachenco, 28, is a boxer who can punch. Nicholas Walters, 30, is a puncher who can box.
The upshot? On paper, this matchup between the Ukrainian Lomachenko and Jamaican Walters has fight-of-the-year potential.
“Any fighter can be knocked out no matter who he is,” Nicholas Walters said. “I like fighting the best, and I like fighting against great technical fighters like Lomachenko.”
“Look at what happened when I fought a great technical fighter like Nonito Donaire,” added the former world champ, hearkening back to the sixth-round TKO that netted him the WBA belt on Oct. 18, 2014, at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. “Lomachenko is great. He knows what he is doing in the ring. But I always look for a knockout against whomever I fight. If I can do it quick, I will. This is the best fight out there in boxing today. It will be the fight of the year.”
“I want to thank HBO and (Top Rank founder and CEO) Bob Arum for giving me this opportunity to test myself in the fight with the best,” Vasyl Lomachenko said after the fight was announced. “Walters, you are next on my list.”
Lomachenko, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, destroyed the previous fighter on his list.
On June 11 at The Theater at Madison Square Garden, the southpaw knocked out then-WBO super featherweight champ Roman Martinez in the fifth round, brilliantly setting up a blistering, fight-ending left-right combination by feinting a right hook.
Nicholas Walters has yet to fight in 2016. His last bout, against current WBA regular 130-pound titleholder Jason Sosa on Dec. 15, 2015, in upstate New York, was ruled a majority draw.
The ruling drew widespread criticism because Walters appeared to have comfortably won the bout by unanimous decision. HBO’s unofficial ringside scorer Harold Lederman had Walters winning nine out of the 10 rounds, while ESPN.com scored every round in favor of the undefeated Jamaican.
Vasyl Lomachenko’s upcoming bout with Nicholas Walters was supposed to have taken place on the night that he ran roughshod over Martinez, but Walters declined to take the fight.
This time, a larger monetary offer and the chance to challenge The Ring‘s seventh-ranked pound-for-pound fighter for a world championship led to a meeting of the minds.
“Boxing fans will be able to spend their Thanksgiving holiday weekend feasting on the year’s most anticipated showdown,” promoter Bob Arum said. “Forget their weight class. With more than (three-fourths) of their victories coming by way of knockout, they punch and win like heavyweights!
“We know how the fight is going to end. The question is, which fighter will end it.”
Vasyl Lomachenko, unsuccessful in his first attempt to win a world title courtesy of a split decision loss to Orlando Salido on March 1, 2014, has knocked out the last three opponents he has fought. Before his abbreviated encounter with Martinez in June, he knocked out Romulo Koasicha of Mexico and Gamalier Rodriguez of Puerto Rico in rounds 10 and nine, respectively.
Walters has not had a knockout victory since his TKO of Donaire nearly two years ago, going the distance in his last two fights. Prior to the Sosa majority draw, he beat Venezuela’s Miguel Marriaga by unanimous decision, bringing an end to a run of five consecutive fights he had won by knockout.
Vasyl Lomachenko versus Nicholas Walters on Nov. 26 will be broadcast on HBO Championship Boxing. Coverage starts at 10:35 p.m. ET.
[Featured Image by Rich Schultz/Getty Images]