Express Week

Walters, Gradovich raring to fight with Donaire

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MANILA -- In the tough featherweight neighborhood, all the badass guys are aching to get their hands on Nonito Donaire Jr.


The newest WBA featherweight “super champion” - a term invented by the boxing body that’s supposedly greater than the title “regular champion” - carved a niche in arguably the most crowded weight division by dethroning Simpiwe Vetyeka Saturday night in Macau.

But waiting for him in the wings are WBA regular champion Nicholas Walters of Jamaica and IBF crown-holder Evgeny Gradovich.

Walters and Gradovich, both undefeated, scored highly impressive victories in the undercard of Donaire’s fight at Cotai Arena of The Venetian Macao.

“Absolutely yes. Of course I would (fight Donaire),” said Walters Saturday when asked if he would like to fight the Filipino Flash soon. “Anytime, whenever they make the fight.”

Walters earlier dispatched Donaire’s previous victim, Vic Darchinyan, with a fifth-round knockout. With a big punch and an aggressive attitude, Walters pounded Darchinyan in the earlier rounds, forcing the Armenian-Australian to fight defensively.

Then in the fifth, Walters launched a sledgehammer right that knocked Darchinyan out cold for several seconds.

“Yes, yes, yes,” was all Gradovich could say when also asked about a possible fight with Donaire. The Russian-Mexican had swollen eyes after a unanimous decision win over Belgian Alexander Miskirtchian.

Gradovich fights under trainer Robert Garcia, who used to be the chief mentor of Donaire. Last Saturday, Garcia still worked Donaire’s corner though it was Donaire Sr., who called the shots.

“Robert, Evgeny, they are still my family,” said Donaire of the two before fight night.

Both Walters and Gradovich are in the radar of Top Rank boss Bob Arum, who also plans to tap the winner of the vacant WBO title showdown between Gary Russell Jr., and Vasyl Lomachenko.

“They’re all gonna fight each other, you’ll see,” said Arum.


But Donaire will first have to get past  Vetyeka in a rematch, tentatively set in November, also in Macau, as possible undercard to a Manny Pacquiao fight.

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