Reports of Vasiliy Lomachenko’s demise were greatly exaggerated.
The former pound-for-pound king outworked, outboxed and thoroughly dominated Masayoshi Nakatani en route to a technical knockout Saturday at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas. Nakatani gave everything he had but was up against a peak version of Lomachenko.
“I’m not surprised at all,” Lomachenko said. “Everybody knows about Japanese. They have heart of warriors. … they will stand until the end. They will never give up.”
Lomachenko was the quicker fighter from the jump, landing combinations to the head and body of the much taller Nakatani. The Ukrainian was cut on his forehead because of a first-round head-butt, but he showed no signs of slowing.
In the fifth round, Lomachenko broke out of a clinch and landed a right uppercut that dropped Nakatani (19-2, 10 KOs). The Japanese fighter easily beat the count and didn’t appear to be hurt, but he entered the latter half of the fight well down on the scorecards.
Lomachenko (15-2, 11 KOs) pressed the action in the sixth and had Nakatani rocked and stuck against the ropes. Referee Celestino Ruiz had a close eye on the action, but Nakatani managed to land a few punches and survived the round.
The onslaught continued into the ninth round when Lomachenko repeatedly snapped Nakatani’s head back with straight left. Nakatani was on shaky legs, and with the sold-out crowd chanting “Loma,” Nakatani went down just as the referee moved in to stop the fight.
Afterward, Lomachenko called for a rematch with Teofimo Lopez, who took his three lightweight world titles in October. Lopez was due to face mandatory challenger George Kambosos on June 19, but the fight was postponed after Lopez tested positive for COVID-19. That fight is expected to take place this summer, and Lomachenko is hopeful he’ll fight Lopez after that bout.
“The rematch is on the horizon,” Lomachenko said. “However, Lopez has a fight with Kambosos. I wish him all the best. But of course my plan and my wish is to have a rematch with him.”
In the co-feature, middleweight prospect Janibek Alimkhanuly stopped former secondary titlist Rob Brant.
Alimkhanuly (10-0, 6 KOs) controlled the fight, repeatedly peppering Brant with straight left hands before Brant’s corner stopped the fight after the eighth round.
Brant (26-3, 18 KOs) never got his offense going. He never figured out how to get inside and found himself down on the scorecards at the halfway point. He started to press the action in the seventh round, but that only ended up with him taking more shots.
Top Rank chairman Bob Arum said Thursday that he hoped to match the winner with undefeated middleweight contender Jaime Munguia, who is coming off a June 19 stoppage win over Kamil Szeremeta.