Vasiliy Lomachenko entered the ring in Las Vegas on Saturday night looking to form some extent. He did just that, getting back within the win column with a dominant performance against Masayoshi Nakatani, scoring a ninth-round knockout. Lomachenko was returning to the ring for the primary time since losing his two lightweight championship belts in an upset defeat to Teofimo Lopez. before the fight with Lomachenko, Lopez’s toughest career fight came in his 2019 battle with Nakatani. Lomachenko didn’t suffer equivalent troubles with the rangy Japanese fighter in their clash at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas on Saturday.
The scariest moment of the fight for Lomachenko came in Round 1 when the fighters bent forward simultaneously, leading to a headbutt that left blood streaming down Lomachenko’s face. That cut was capably handled between rounds and from there the fight was all Lomachenko. Unlike in his loss to Lopez, where Lomachenko gave away many of the first rounds through inactivity, Lomachenko had his foot on the gas from the jump, using his speed and footwork to outbox Nakatani. the Japanese lightweight never got his jab or straight right going due to Lomachenko’s ability to urge inside on the much taller opponent.
Things started deteriorating rapidly for Nakatani in Round 5, with Lomachenko landing a left around his guard within the clinch followed by a right and left that put Nakatani on the canvas. Nakatani was ready to rise to his feet and continued to undertake to battle back to the fight, but Lomachenko’s left landed over and over within the ensuing rounds. The left hands were also landing to the proper side of Nakatani’s face, where he’d suffered a broken orbital bone in two previous fights. Nakatani’s eye would still swell throughout the sixth and seventh rounds.
Battered and together with his eye swollen shut, Nakatani gave it one last effort within the ninth round but was badly rocked by more Lomachenko left hands before a pair of right hands sent Nakatani back to the canvas, this point forcing the referee to leap certain the stoppage. Lomachenko landed 59% of his power punches through the fight, completely dominating the action in every round.
Now attention returns to Lomachenko’s pursuit for a rematch with Lopez. The Lopez camp has repeatedly shot down the thought of giving Lomachenko a second fight, but with both fighters under the highest Rank banner, it’s going to be a case of Lopez either wanting to intensify for the rematch or move up to 140 pounds. Lopez’s father, Teofimo Lopez Sr., was attending on Saturday night and told ESPN that they might be willing to grant the rematch, but said it must be a subsequent fight for both fighters following Lopez’s planned mandatory title defense against George Kambosos in September. “Everybody saw how I won and everybody has been expecting the rematch,” Lomachenko said after the fight. “So, let’s make the rematch. … I understand the features a fight within the future. But after. How about after? Next year at the start of the year. December. January. February. I’m waiting.”