Zach Walters ready for Hugo Pineda

By Cory Rapacz


Zach Walters ready for Hugo Pineda

"Jungle Boy" to fight ex-Trinidad foe on big Minnesota show

On November 17, 2006, a boxing celebration will take place at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In the first major show uner the new commission, "Boxing Is Back!" will be presented by former Minnesota boxer Tony Grygelko's Seconds Out Promotions. Most major Minnesota boxers will appear on the show, including Minnesota State light heavyweight champion Zack "Jungle Boy" Walters (15-1, 11 KOs). Fighting out of Long Prairie (MN), Walters is scheduled to battle Columbian KO specialist Hugo Pineda (37-3-1, 27 KOs) in the eight-round chief supporting bout. Boxingtalk caught up with Walters to talk about this fight and what it means to his career. 

BT:  Welcome to Boxingtalk Zach!  I know we tried to get you on before your last fight but there were communication problems. Sorry about that.

Zach: That's alright. Glad to talk fight biz with you again.

BT:  On November 17th at the Target Center in Minneapolis, boxing returns to Minnesota!  Tell us your thoughts on what the return of the commission in Minnesota means not only to yourself, but the rest of the boxers in this state.

Zach:  November 17 is definitely a great day. Having our own state boxing commission opens up the gate for bigger opportunities for boxers in the state.  Not having a boxing commission made it difficult to have fights. This show is a compilation of Minnesota's most popular fighters and the turn out should be great.

BT:  Seconds Out Promotions has put together a fantastic card for the return of Minnesota boxing.  In fact, it may be one of the best this state has ever seen.  Can you give me some of your thoughts on the undercard fights!

Zach: The whole card is filled with great matches. None of the local fighters have an easy task in front of them, which is great. I believe that for a fighter to look his best in the ring he needs to be challenged. That is what we will see on November 17th. We will all be challenged with dangerous fights and as a result we will need be on  point, be sharp! Our state has a lot of talent and the crowd will see it. The fans are going to love it!

BT:  You are scheduled to be on the undercard against Hugo Pineda, but you may be in the most intriguing fight of the night.  What do you know about your most accomplished opponent to date and what do you expect from him?

Zach:  I expect to be in the ring with a confident, well trained,  Pineda. This guy has boxed some of boxing's best fighters and won several fringe titles during his career. He is a dangerous puncher, as reflected by his 27 KOs in 37 wins. This is just the fight my team was looking for. I want to fight opposition that will bring me into the world ranks and let the critics know I am a dedicated, serious boxer. There is no doubt in my mind that this fight will be intriguing to fight fans. There is no easy way to win. The only way is hard work; hard work in camp and hard work in the ring. My motto has been to work hard and train hard and let God do the rest. I believe God has brought me to this place to be victorious.

BT:  Some say that you may have problems with southpaws and have shied away from them since your first loss as a pro.  You continue to claim that you were robbed in the fight against a hometown fighter named Robert Linton, a southpaw, early in your career.  Do you believe that if you would have gotten the nod in that disputed decision you would be more highly touted as an undefeated prospect?  Can you tell the fans what happened in that fight?

Zach: First off, I haven't shied away from southpaw boxers. I just haven't had the opportunity to box any since the Linton fight. I WAS ROBBED in the Linton fight. I out landed him at least 3-1 in every round and staggered him in the fifth round. He landed bigger shots due to the weight difference, but there is no way that was enough to win the fight. There was controversy at the weigh-in the day before the fights when Linton came in heavy. Shark and I told Linton and his team to lose the pounds, but they wanted to settle on a purse cut for pounds. We said "No", and initially turned the fight down.  The promoter out there was furious and threatened us with legal problems. Eventually we settled on taking the fight as a NO CONTEST due to the weight disparity. I knew I could go the rounds with a bigger guy because I had been sparring with a cruiserweight out there during camp. So the after a day and a half of confusion we settled on taking the fight. Once we got to the venue and were getting ready a commissioner came up and told us that the fight needed to be official, or it could not take place. I made the call to fight anyway because I was confident I could beat Linton. At the last bell of our fight I felt confident I had won, but that was not what the announcer said. After the fight the promoter came by and asked me if I had "learned my lesson." I asked "What lesson," he just smirked and walked away. I'll never forget it. I was able to turn the loss into a positive because it pushed me even more in the gym. It forced me to ask myself hard questions about continuing in boxing with a loss early on my record. My belief at that time was to be undefeated or unheard of. That was how I saw it. After that fight I went on a five fight KO streak. My plans were to never be robbed again and a sure way to do this was to win by KO. So that is what I did. Boxed with a new found urgency to win every fight I had.  I learned how to be a smarter fighter with the way I train and box. No exceptions, box smart. I see that as what will separate me from my opponents. I do my homework on the fighters I box and develop a smart, effective plan to win. Why step in the ring if you don't think you'll win? It makes no sense.

BT:  Most fans don't realize that a lot of the time you spent in
training camp with Buddy McGirt was sparring his son James McGirt Jr. (a southpaw) Is Buddy still involved in your career?

Zach:  Yes, Buddy is still involved in my career. I have not been able to make it down to Vero lately though. This summer I was finishing up my degree so I couldn't get away or I'd fail my classes. Summer courses in college are intense and I had to be there everyday. For this fight, I couldn't afford to get away. Every time I go down to Florida it costs me a lot of money that I have to pay out of my own pocket. I just couldn't do it this time. Once my fights begin to pay better I'll be able to get down there before all my fights, no problem. Sparring with James McGirt Jr. has been a real asset for this fight.  He is a 6'1 southpaw like Pineda, but I would edge to James on who is better. James is a fast puncher with good power. We will definitely see him with a world title belt some day.  He's that good. During my training camp for Pineda I have thought a lot about those sparring sessions and the pointers Buddy gave me. It has increased my confidence quite a bit. Up here in Duluth I have had the opportunity to put in a lot of rounds with Andy "KAOS"  Kolle. He too is a 6'1 southpaw. He has a similar style to Pineda and I have been able to develop the skills needed to win. Looking back at all the training I have done for this fight, I am confident I have developed the perfect fight plan to beat this guy.

BT:  Many in Minnesota believe that your last fight against Jabba
Bryan was your most impressive.  Do you see this fight as an extension of that fight?  How has your trainer Chuck "Sharky" Horton kept you sharp during this short layoff?

Zach: Yes, I see the fight with Pineda as an extension of my last  fight. Both opponents fought world class competition. I see the fight with Hugo as the appropriate next step in showing my talent. The most important part in that fight was that I stayed disciplined and stuck to my game plan. Jabba was a crafty boxer and knew quite a few tricks. I gave him an unbelievable beating that night, but he knew how to stay in the fight. Training with Shark has been fun. We have been able to spend more time on techniques and developing a solid fight plan during camp because a lot of my conditioning has carried over from my last fight. It was just a matter of re-peaking and staying sharp. We began training for this fight two weeks after my last bought so I have had plenty of time. I feel calm and confident about this fight.

BT:  You recently were ranked #11 by the NABF.  How does your first national ranking rate in your career accomplishments?

Zach: It was huge news to find out. It ranks up there with some of my big wins because it is from those wins that I achieved the ranking. My team and I knew that if we kept fighting tough opposition we would eventually crack one of the belt rankings. I am thrilled that the NABF, one of the most respected belt organizations, chose to rank me. That was confidence booster for this next fight.

BT:  You, as a light heavyweight, have been criticized for this fight because Pineda started out as a featherweight.  What do you have to say to the detractors?

Zach: I think that the detractors are just that: detractors. Pineda is a fighter that has sweated his way down in his fights to box at a lower weight. I think that is how he achieved so many KO wins. In his fight with Felix Trinidad, for the IBF title, he stepped into the ring at 167 lbs after weighing in at the 147 pound limit.  That's a 20 pound difference. Pineda is a big guy and I am expecting him to be strong at  175 lbs. I am ready to fight the best of whatever Pineda brings on fight night.

BT:  You've built quite a following in the Duluth, MN area.  Do you
expect a lot of those fans to make the trip down to Minneapolis to show support for the "Jungle Boy?"

Zach: Trust me; the 'Jungle fans' are going to be there. I have had to turn away a lot of phone calls for tickets so I could continue to focus on my fight. They are a wild crowd. Remember too that a lot of the Twin Ports fight crowd is made up with fans from the Cities. There are a lot of boxing fans in Minnesota and they love to watch good fights. Many of them have been making the trip up to Duluth/Superior to get a piece of the action Sharky Promotions has put together. In our last several shows, we have darn near sold out the fight venues. I expect a great turn out at the Target Center and hope to make a few more fans along the way.

BT:  Zach, thanks again for appearing on BoxingTalk today.  Close with a message to your fans and those who may be seeing Zach Walters for the first time in the near future. 

Zach:  I want to make it clear to the fight fans that I would not be where I am at with my boxing career if it were not for having the Lord in my life. I continue to believe that God has great plans for my life and this upcoming show is part of  them. Jeremiah 29:11.  It's a verse from in the Bible that I wear on my boxing trunks. Look it up if you get the chance. It applies to all that read it.  I want to thank all the fans for supporting the show because without a good crowd it wouldn't be much fun to box at a big venue like Target Center. See you at the fights. God bless.


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