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Who Will Prevail When Walters, Marriaga Clash Tonight?

There'll be big explosions in the ring tonight at New York's Madison Square Garden when Nicholas Walters and amateur nemesis Miguel Marriaga square off for the WBA "Super" featherweight title that Walters lost yesterday on the scales when he could not make the divisional limit of 126 pounds.

Could the blown weigh-in by Walters, 25-0 (21), be an indication of his concern in facing Marriaga? Would it be better to weight more and thus be stronger, giving himself a better change to defeat Marriaga, even if it means losing the title rather than to make weight and thus be weaker and possibly losing both the fight and the title?

This could be because Marriaga, 20-0 (18), defeated the Jamaican seven years ago on points in an Olympic qualifier event and has shown a lot of confidence leading up to tonight's contest. Are there lingering psychological effects for Walters to deal with?

Walters, from Montego Bay, rose from obscurity in 2012 by capturing the vacant WBA feather strap with a stoppage of Daulis Prescott but shot to true prominence in the sport by halting Nonito Donaire and Vic Darchinyan in 2014.

Marriaga has amassed a nice record on paper, operating mostly in his native Colombia with a few forays into Mexico, but against mostly low level or limited opposition.

Marriaga's sole appearance in America occurred last October when he produced a six round KO of Christopher Martin, who is the Cartegena man's most accomplished opponent to date.

Walters has successfully gone up against far, far better opponents and would normally be a big favorite to send Marriaga packing.

But sometimes an opponent just has a fighter's "number" and it will be interesting to see if Marriaga can turn his amateur achievement over Walters into professional success.

Chief support at Madison Square Garden is provided by a clash for the WBO Latino belt between lightweights Felix Verdejo, 17-0 (13), and Ivan Najera, 16-0 (8), over a scheduled 10 rounds.

Puerto Rico's Verdejo has faced the better opposition but has only gone eight rounds on one occasion while America's Najera has gone eight in his last four appearances so there's a bit of balance in advantages there.

Both fighters are 22 but Verdejo has a big height and reach advantage over his rival, meaning he may seek to stay on the outside while the much shorter Najera will have to cut off the ring and make it an inside battle.

This could produce a fight that takes a big toll on the energy of the combatants and if Najera can handle the bigger punching power of Verdejo, his experience in longer bouts could make a difference in the later rounds.

About Richard Eberline

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