Vasiliy Lomachenko Shows Off His Majesty in a Dominant Win over Masayoshi Nakatani
June 26 marked the return of three-division world Vasiliy (Vasyl) Lomachenko as he faced off against Masayoshi Nakatani at the Virgin Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, live on ESPN+.
At one time, Lomachecnko was considered the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. Brilliantly skilled with one of the more unique styles in the sport, he was not only admired but feared.
All that changed when he defended the unified WBO and WBA lightweight titles against then IBF champ, Teofimo Lopez in October 2020. In what was considered a sizeable upset, the fighter who is known worldwide as “Loma” lost by a unanimous decision. What made matters worse was that three days after the fight, he underwent right shoulder surgery.
Following subsequent rehab, the 33-year-old from Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi, Ukraine, claims to be fully healthy and on a mission to regain the world lightweight championship.
He’s facing a Nakatani, a fighter who has earned universal respect among the hardcore sect. The 32-year-old from Osaka, Japan, came to prominence when he fought Lopez in July 2019. Though he too lost by unanimous decision, Nakatani made Lopez work throughout.
Undeterred, he rebounded in his next outing against Felix Verdejo. Rising from two knockdowns in the early rounds as well as a fractured orbital bone, Nakatani rallied to score a dramatic ninth-round TKO.
Both men are ranked in the top ten by all four major sanctioning bodies. So, a world title shot is all but assured for the winner. Is this step one for Lomachenko’s climb to regain the throne, or can Nakatani conquer the former pound-4-pound king?
Lomachenko’s (15-2, 11 KOs) mission was to show he’s still a dominant, great fighter. However, there was cause for concern early. In the first round, a clash of heads produced a cut along his hairline.
Despite that setback, “Loma” got to work in round two. What makes him so special is his boxing brain and outstanding footwork. He’s able to use both to create opportunities and bewilder his foes.
That is what began to happen to Nakatani (19-2, 13 KOs). He is known for his pressure-fighting style but was hesitant early because he couldn’t time the punches and movement of the former world champ.
DOMINANCE ON FULL DISPLAY
The domination continued during the middle rounds. Towards the end of round five, Lomachenko spun Nakatani and caught him with a right hook which produced a knockdown. Midway through the sixth, Nakatani was hurt again by way of a Lomachenko left hand.
At this point, the former pound-4-pound king was in full bloom and the crowd was enjoying what they were witnessing. Nakatani was cut and had swelling over his right eye. It was more of a one-man show than a competitive contest.
In the ninth, “Loma” smelled blood and went for the finish. He abused and assaulted the Japanese fighter. With Nakatani visibly hurt and wobbly, referee Celestino Ruiz saved him from further punishment and stopped the fight with seventy-two seconds to go in the round. This would be the first time the Japanese fighter would taste defeat via knockout!
Lomachenko showed the Las Vegas boxing world that he’s healthy and as good as ever. The father of Lopez, Teofimo Lopez Sr, mentioned prior to the fight that they are willing to give “Loma” a rematch. The stipulation being it take place directly after Lopez’ first title defense against George Kambosos August 14. Hopefully, that request can be obliged!
By: Michael Wilson Jr