Lomachenko wants to beat Nakatani easier than Teofimo did

When Vasiliy Lomachenko turned professional with fanfare following a prodigious newbie profession in 2013, he was motivated way more by making boxing historical past than by being profitable.

Lomachenko had already made a substantial mark as an newbie by going 396-1 — avenging the lone loss twice – claiming Olympic gold medals for Ukraine in 2008 and 2012 and leaving the unpaid ranks seen by many to be the best newbie of all time.

When he turned professional, combat in and combat out he demanded that Prime Rank promoter Bob Arum match him with the most effective out there opponent.

If he had his means, Lomachenko would have boxed for a world title in his skilled debut however it was not allowed. So, after knocking out contender Jose Luis Ramirez within the fourth spherical of a scheduled 10-rounder in his professional debut, Arum secured him a featherweight title shot in opposition to Orlando Salido.

Lomachenko lost a tight split decision in opposition to Salido, who had did not make weight, was stripped of the title and spent a lot of the combat hitting him under the belt.

It was grounds for Lomachenko to get one other title shot in his third combat, when he was paired with Gary Russell Jr., a 2008 U.S. Olympian, who was 24-0 on the time, to combat for the WBO title stripped from Salido. Lomachenko toyed with Russell, the present WBC titleholder, to assert the belt as he launched a sustained assault on the boxing document ebook.

Lomachenko would win world titles in three divisions — featherweight, junior light-weight and light-weight – and hung out because the widely known pound-for-pound king. He was an untouchable pressure who not often even misplaced rounds.

When he beat Russell, Lomachenko set the document for fewest fights wanted to win a world title (three, a tie). He would additionally set different males’s data: fewest bouts wanted to win a title in two divisions (seven) and fewest wanted to win a title in three divisions (12). He unified two light-weight titles in his thirteenth combat by lopsided determination over Jose Pedraza in 2018 and unified three light-weight belts in his 15th combat by lopsided determination over Luke Campbell on his turf in London in 2019.

Then Lomachenko was introduced again to earth this previous October when he squared off with Teofimo Lopez in a closely hyped unification combat contained in the Prime Rank bubble on the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Loma thinks he didn’t need to take the L in opposition to Lopez. And he’s not pretending, he’s gunning for revenge.

Lomachenko was a heavy favourite, however the underdog Lopez pulled the upset, taking a unanimous determination, Lomachenko’s Ring title and cadre of alphabet belts.

Lomachenko, who got here into the combat with an injured proper shoulder that required two ache injections throughout coaching camp and post-fight surgical procedure — his second on the identical space — began excruciatingly sluggish. He barely threw any punches and primarily gave away a lot of the first six rounds earlier than mounting a second-half comeback that fell brief, regardless that he mentioned he believes the combat ought to have been scored a draw.

It was a stunning loss to Lomachenko, who didn’t have a rematch clause however very a lot would really like one other crack at Lopez.

So, when Lomachenko returns to the ring for the primary time because the defeat and surgical procedure, he’ll achieve this in opposition to Masayoshi Nakatani, an opponent he picked not solely as a result of he’s a bona fide contender however as a result of he needs to check his efficiency in opposition to Nakatani to that of the one Lopez turned in in opposition to him.

Nobody who is aware of boxing thinks Loma is in with a delicate contact for his return combat. Nakatani is expert and extremely recreation.

Lopez and Nakatani will meet in a 12-round light-weight bout on Saturday in the primary occasion of a Prime Rank Boxing on ESPN+ card (10 p.m. ET with preliminaries starting at 7:15 p.m. ET) on the Virgin Motels Las Vegas. Will probably be Lomachenko’s 17th professional combat and solely his second nontitle bout.

“Nakatani is an excellent alternative for me as a result of he gave Teofimo an excellent combat,” Lomachenko mentioned. “That’s why I take him. Now I need to present myself I’m higher than Teofimo.

“I need to evaluate myself with this man as a result of he fought with Teofimo and he’s a really robust man. He’s a really high opponent for me.”

The way in which Lomachenko sees it, if he performs higher in opposition to Nakatani than Lopez did, it would assist lure Lopez into what could be a high-profile rematch.

As Egis Klimas, Lomachenko’s supervisor, phrased it, “Loma is a fisherman. You need to catch a giant fish, you throw bait. He didn’t need to get a simple combat, a comeback combat. He doesn’t want a comeback combat. He needs to show the place he’s.”

Arum mentioned even coming off the loss Lomachenko (14-2, 10 KOs) didn’t desire a delicate contact opponent. Simply as he had when he was racking up dominating victories, the southpaw wished a respectable foe.

“Not like many fighters, notably after they’ve skilled a loss, they at all times need a simple means again. However Loma isn’t like these different fighters,” Arum mentioned. “He wished us to get him the hardest opponent that we may get. And clearly the man who crammed that invoice is Nakatani. Not solely was he very aggressive when he fought Lopez however he was concerned in a sensational combat with (Felix) Verdejo, who had him down a few instances, had him in bother however he had the perseverance to tug himself collectively and win the combat by knockout. This will probably be a tremendously aggressive combat and can check every of the fighters.”

The 5-foot-11 Nakatani, who will personal a four-inch top benefit and a major attain benefit in opposition to Lomachenko, had fought all of his earlier bouts in his native Japan when he arrived in Oxon Hill, Maryland, to combat Lopez in an IBF title elimination combat in July 2019.

He got here into the combat as an unknown and left with a loss on his document however with ample respect from the boxing neighborhood. Though Lopez gained a large unanimous determination, Nakatani was very aggressive all through the encounter and gave Lopez the hardest combat of his profession.

Nakatani (19-1, 13 KOs), 32, adopted the loss by additional proving his chops in December, when he rallied from two knockdowns to cease then-contender Verdejo within the ninth spherical.

Arum mentioned that Lomachenko took word of Nakatani’s efficiency in opposition to Lopez and his win over Verdejo and wished to combat him.

“Just about, as a result of they each fought Teofimo,” Arum mentioned of the rationale for the match. “And since you may’t match Loma up with a standard man. You need to match him with somebody who is de facto good and Nakatani confirmed he belongs within the Loma combat and the combat he had with Verdejo was a basic.

“Speaking to (Nakatani co-promoter Akihiko) Honda, the Japanese suppose Nakatani has an unbelievable shot to win and so they informed me there was extra buzz for the Nakatani combat with Lomachenko than even for ‘The Monster’s’ (unified bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue’s) combat final Saturday (additionally on the Virgin Motels).”

Many will probably be searching for indicators of the place Lomachenko is in his profession coming off the loss. Was it a blip on the radar due to dangerous technique to start out so slowly mixed with the damage or have all of the newbie fights and professional put on and caught as much as him at age 33? Or, as some have advised, is he too small for light-weight and would he be higher served returning to 130 kilos?

Lomachenko believes he is aware of the reply and hopes a victory will result in a rematch with Lopez, a combat that Arum mentioned he want to make.

“In fact, I’m nonetheless in my prime. Now the whole lot is nice (with my well being),” Lomachenko mentioned. “I can’t wait to come back again within the ring. I’m very excited and I need to present my finest abilities. I need to show who I’m in boxing. I’ve a combat this Saturday and after the combat we will discuss a rematch however, after all, everyone knows I would like this combat once more.”

Arum mentioned it made no sense to get into it earlier than Saturday’s combat.

“Let’s see the way it seems,” Arum mentioned. “Possibly I sit with the daddy (and coach Anatoly Lomachenko) and Egis and we are saying, ‘Hey, possibly it’s higher off to go to 130. There’s quite a lot of motion at 130 with (Oscar) Valdez, Shakur (Stevenson) and (Jamel) Herring. These 135s are just a little too massive.’

“Or, we are saying, ‘Hey, let’s go full pace forward and see if we will make a Teofimo combat or a combat with (WBC titlist Devin) Haney. I’m comfortable for Loma to combat Haney. However I don’t even like discussing what if. There’s loads of time. Ask me on Monday. Monday will probably be right here quickly.”

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