After disappointing himself and his team Friday by failing to make the featherweight limit, Nicholas Walters was stripped of his WBA title. Walters vowed not make the mistake again and immediately began a plan to regain the belt, but he first had to beat the man he was scheduled to defend it against: Miguel Marriaga.
In the main event of an HBO-televised card inside the historic Madison Square Garden in downtown New York City, Walters stuck to a perfect game plan and dominated Marriaga from the opening bell. Walters kept a safe distance for much of the contest and his movement and counter punching was key. Marriaga suffered a knockdown in the ninth and was unable to score a miracle stoppage at the end.
Walters wound up coasting to a lopsided unanimous decision win, getting the nod via tallies of 118-109, 117-110 and 119-108 to improve to 26-0 with 21 KOs. Walters erased a loss to Marriaga (20-1, 18 KOs) from back when they were in the amateurs in the process, but he walked out of the arena without his title. The WBA featherweight belt is now vacant.
In the co-featured bout on HBO, undefeated Puerto Rican contender Felix Verdejo (18-0, 13 KOs) dominated Ivan Najera over 10 rounds. Verdejo dropped his foe in the fifth with a perfect left uppercut and then again in the seventh with a left hook, but he couldn’t put “Bam Bam” away.
In the end, “El Diamante” was nearly flawless throughout the contest and won the decision via near shutout. The official scores all favored him 100-88 (twice) and 99-89, keeping Verdejo as one of the lightweight division’s hottest rising stars. Najera, for his efforts, lost for the first time as a pro; he now stands at 16-1 with eight KOs.
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