Walters lines up Garza for 1st defense

When featherweight titlist Nicholas Walters signed with Top Rank last month, he was immediately given a date for his first defense. On Thursday, he got an opponent.

Walters will face Alberto Garza of Mexico on Nov. 9 in Corpus Christi, Texas, Top Rank vice president Carl Moretti told ESPN.com.

The fight will take place on the undercard of junior lightweight titlist Roman "Rocky" Martinez's defense against former featherweight titleholder Miguel Angel "Mikey" Garcia. Walters-Garza will not be part of the HBO-televised tripleheader, which also includes Nonito Donaire's featherweight debut in a rematch with Vic Darchinyan, and Demetrius Andrade and Vanes Martirosyan meeting for a vacant junior middleweight belt. Moretti said HBO will show highlights of Walters-Garza.

"Garza should be a good test for Walters," Moretti said. "Garza is experienced, and his style is to hit and get hit, so it should be a good fight. Hopefully, Walters will make a statement."

With a win, Walters will put himself in the mix for any number of notable fights at 126 pounds, a division in which Top Rank is heavily involved as it promotes Donaire, Darchinyan, titleholder Evgeny Gradovich, former titlist Orlando Salido (who challenges for a vacant belt Oct. 12) and two-time Olympic gold medalist Vasyl Lomachenko.

"Walters would provide an excellent challenge for Donaire in 2014 as well as give Donaire an opportunity to fight for a featherweight title," Moretti said.

Donaire, the 2012 fighter of the year, has won titles in three divisions and an interim belt in a fourth. He is coming off an April junior featherweight title loss to Guillermo Rigondeaux and moving up to featherweight next month.

Garza (25-5-1, 20 KOs), 28, has won two fights in a row by knockout since suffering an eighth-round knockout loss to Robinson Castellano in April 2011 in Mexico City. Walters (22-0, 18 KOs), nicknamed "The Axe Man," won a vacant 126-pound world title on Dec. 8, 2012, scoring a seventh-round knockout of Colombia's Daulis Prescott -- the brother of fringe junior welterweight contender Breidis Prescott -- before a hometown crowd in Kingston, Jamaica. Walters, 27, scored three knockdowns en route to the victory.