By Robert Coster, reporting from Kingston, Jamaica
Photo: Olivier Monserrat-Robert (FFB)
On Saturday night, the beautiful little Caribbean nation of Jamaica will not be watching Pacquiao fight Marquez but rather will be rooting collectively for their native son Nicholas “The Axeman” Walters (21-0,17 KOs) who will be fighting for the vacant WBA world featherweight title against Daulis Prescott (26-1, 19 KOs) of Colombia. Jamaica has its share of track and field, cricket and soccer heroes, but it’s Walters’ intention to be the Caribbean island’s next sport idol and, at the same time, become the first Jamaican to win a boxing crown on native soil.
Before Nicholas, three Jamaicans boxers tried and failed in front of the home crown. In 1964, Bunny Grant lost a 15 round decision to Eddie Perkins. In 1965, Percy Hayles was stopped by Carlos Hernandez. In 1990, Richard Clarke was kayoed in his title bid against Sot Chitalada.
Sitting in his room at the Wyndham Hotel in Kingston, Walters appears to be a quiet, shy young man. His eyes light up and his voice quivers only when he talks about the pride of being Jamaican and how on Saturday he plans to make his country proud of him.
Fightnews sat down with Walters to get his impressions before his big date with history:
Nicholas, you know that three Jamaicans have tried to win world titles on the native soil and have failed. Some superstitious fans even talk of a jinx. What do you to say to that?
Boxing is not a question of luck or superstition. It’s a question of talent and putting in the hard work. You need the ambition to succeed and the readiness to make sacrifices. On Saturday, I will win not because of the moon or whatever but because I’m the better man.
What do you know about your opponent, Daulis Prescott?
He’s taller than I am. He’s a boxer that comes forward all the time. They say he’s as tough as his brother Breidis who knocked out Amir Khan. And he’s as hungry as I am. We are the same age (26) and I expect a tough fight.
The Walters family is well known to be a boxing family. I suppose everybody will be there?
Of course! My father Job who was a pro featherweight will be in my corner, all my brothers who are or were amateur boxers. And my mom.
Your mom is a boxing mom?
Yes, my mom Julaet used to work my corner early in my amateur career. She is a great motivator.
In a few words, name those who have brought you were you are today, on the threshold of being a major national figure in your country.
My mother Julaet, as I said, my father Job Walters, my trainer Celso Chavez and, of course, my manager/promoter Jacques Deschamps who believed in me and is so much more than a manager. There was no boxing anymore in Jamaica and I had little prospects for a pro career. He took me to Panama and he had me fight there at great expense for him. It changed my life. For Jacques, for my father, for my mother and, finally, for my country, I will win the title on Saturday.
Any message to the Jamaican people before the big showdown?
On Saturday the Axeman is going to wield the ax and cut down the Colombian tree. And, it’s an honor for me to be headlining the WBA “KO to Drugs ” card because it’s a worthy cause. My victory will be my gift to my people, to my country in its 50th year of independence.