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Axeman still in the game - Boxing boss Jones backs former star to make a successful return

Published:Sunday | September 13, 2020 | 12:07 AMLivingston Scott - Sunday Gleaner Writer

Vasyl Lomachenko (right) of Ukraine, dodges a punch by Nicholas Walters during a WBO junior lightweight title boxing match on Saturday, November 26, 2016, in Las Vegas.
Vasyl Lomachenko (right) of Ukraine, dodges a punch by Nicholas Walters during a WBO junior lightweight title boxing match on Saturday, November 26, 2016, in Las Vegas.

Stephen Jones, president of the Jamaica Boxing Board (JBB), said although it will be tough for former WBA Fedelatin champion, Nicholas ‘Axeman’ Walters to get back to where he was five years ago, when he was one of the most feared fighters in the feather and junior lightweight divisions, he believes it is not beyond him, as he knows what it takes to get there.

The ‘Axeman’s’ last fight came in 2016, when he lost to Vasyl Lomachenko in seven rounds in a junior lightweight bout. However, the former champion’s problems really started in 2015, when he failed to make the weight for his featherweight title defense against Colombian Miguel Marriaga. He was then stripped of the title, which was made vacant, even though he defeated Marriaga.

A few months later, Walters moved up in weight class to junior lightweight and took on Jason Sosa of Puerto Rico, and most observers thought Walters was the overwhelming winner of that contest, but he had to settle for a draw.

He then went a year without fighting before losing to Lomachenko.

However, since that loss, the St James native has been inactive, leaving many to wonder if he has thrown in the towel.

Jones revealed that the 34 year-old was in the process of getting himself back in the game, before the coronavirus pandemic hit, nevertheless he believes he still has what it takes to get back to the top.

“Based on the conversation I had with him, I truly think he is still in the sport and this would have been the year he would be coming back. When we spoke earlier this year in person, he was talking to his managers about coming back and coming back with a bang and he wanted to use Jamaica as a platform to do that. But then the COVID hit and I haven’t spoke to him since to know if he still has that mindset. But boxing was still his passion and his mindset was good and he was speaking about going back to that top level,” Jones told The Sunday Gleaner.

However, due to Walters’ inactivity over the last three years or more, Jones cautioned that it will take a lot of hard work and commitment for him to regain a place among the elites.

“He knows what it takes to get to the top and he knows what steps he has to take, so it’s just a matter of his mind and his mind was ready to put in the work and get back in the game. He was in Panama getting himself back in the right condition and his first objective was getting back to a weight that was comfortable.

“I definitely think it is possible (to get back to the top) but he has to want it. He has the talent but that alone won’t do,” Jones noted. “This is boxing and rest and rust go hand-in-hand and when other people are on top of their game, you can’t just leave off and come back, as there are good fighters in various classes. But he is a tremendous talent, so if he puts in the work he has a very good chance of being in the top ten again. He has left a lot on the table and before too much time passes he should come back and collect it.”