Topping off a festive holiday weekend and the conclusion of what could be considered back-to-back weekends of potential fight of the year candidate bouts in Las Vegas, NV; Vasyl Lomachenko defended his WBO super featherweight world title against "Axeman" Nicholas Walters of Jamaica. For Lomachenko, the fight marks the first defense of the title he won from Roman "Rocky" Martinez earlier this year by stunning knockout victory. Lomachenko has completed the daunting task of winning two world titles in two divisions within his first 10 professional fights. The fight is considered to be Lomachenko's stiffest bout to date as Walters was a champion in the featherweight division. The two were slated to face each other earlier in the year but could not come to financial agreement. Given the fight has had a few months to fester and Walters has not had a fight since his draw against current WBA super featherweight champion Jason Sosa, boxing enthusiasts still considered this fight one of the best bouts that could be made in boxing at the moment.
Lomachenko (6-1, 4 KOs) is widely considered one of boxing's top pound for pound talents and the odds are stacked against Walters who is coming off a 11-month layoff against Lomachenko who was tagged as a 5:1 favorite in this bout according to Las Vegas odds. The fight drew a bit of controversy early in the week due to the assigned officials considering last week's controversial Andre Ward - Sergey Kovalev decision, however Nicholas Walters had no qualms about officiating entering the fight. The fight started off traditionally in a feel-out round with both fighters attempting to gauge range and firing off jabs. Walters landed a hook to Lomachenko's body and Lomachenko responded later in the round by trying to land one of his fluid combinations.
Walters started round 2 pumping his left jab and Lomachenko attempted to close the distance on the 8-inch reach advantage of Walters. Walters appeared to be comfortable with the pressure of Lomachenko and began inching forward a bit himself. Very close rounds to call early, as neither was really effective early on. Round 3 began in the same fashion with both fighters pumping out jabs. Walters again attacked the body of Lomachenko when in close quarters. Lomachenko seemed to still be figuring out the distance and timing of Walters. He unleashed a 4-punch combination at the end of the round with nothing landing but it still managed to bring the crowd to excitement. The two fought in the center of the ring in round 4 with neither claiming a clear dominant stance in the bout. Lomachenko appeared to be up on the scorecards early on but if we learned anything from Ward - Kovalev last weekend, do not assume too early. Lomachenko did an excellent job of cutting out the reach advantage of Walters. Lomachenko has generally dazzled previous opponents with his footwork but it had not become a factor in the fight yet. Walters attacked the body of Lomachenko in round 5 as the two ended up tied up several times in the round.
Both appeared to open up on offense in round 6 but still nothing major was landed from either fighter. Walters began throwing heavy leather up top and Lomachenko followed with combinations of punches. Lomachenko began to land more on offense in round 7 as he landed a right hook that sent Walters reeling backwards towards the rope. The two were now engaged in full battle and Lomachenko got the better of the exchange, as Walters appeared hurt. Walters made it through the round but the fight was stopped at the end of the round when Walters went back to his corner. Lomachenko improves his record to 7-1, 5 KOs with the stoppage of the previously undefeated Walters. This bout was considered to be the toughest for him in the 130-pound division and with rumors emerging recently of Lomachenko fighting Manny Pacquiao potentially; it leaves fans eager to see what is next for the emerging start Lomachenko. Lomachenko mentioned he wanted Francisco Vargas next in his post-bout interview with Max Kellerman of HBO. Walters on the other hand stated the loss was due to not being active over the past year, which was something many critics speculated about prior to the bout.