Lomachenko breaks down, stops Nakatani in ninth round

Coming into Saturday night, fight fans wanted to know how former champion Vasily Lomachenko would look after his loss to Teofimo Lopez last year. Many had viewed him as one of the top pound for pound fighters up to that point, and too see him suffer defeat may have raised some doubt as to if he would be able to compete at the top level in the lightweight division.

He gave his case that he is not done yet as he methodically broke down Masayoshi Nakatani over the course of nine rounds, forcing referee Celestino Ruiz to stop the bout and award Lomachenko the 15th win of his pro career (15-2, 11 KOs). Nakatani falls to 19-2.

In the opening round, an accidental clash of heads opened up a cut on Lomachenko but there was minimal offense coming from Nakatani to make it a serious issue. On multiple occasions Lomachenko was first to throw a punch and the impact of it had Nakatani slow to respond. That was the theme of the fight as Nakatani didn’t give much of an answer to Lomachenko’s aggressive, but timely punching. His southpaw stance was troubling for Nakatani as he was able to land left hands while the Japanese contender missed often. During a clinch in the fifth round, Lomachenko landed a left to break away and followed it with a two punch combination to put Nakatani to the canvas.

After scoring the knockdown Lomachenko continued the onslaught as Nakatani had no answer for Loma’s style. Counterpunches and lead left hands were landing at a high rate, and it was only a matter of time before the referee having to step in.

“I’m happy because I won,” Lomachenko said right after being the first fighter to stop Nakatani. “All the strategies that we developed with my team worked. I’m back on track.”

The immediate reaction to Lomachenko’s win was to bring up the topic of fighting Teofimo Lopez again for the unified lightweight titles. When the question of a rematch was posed to Lomachenko, he was quick to respond.

“Everybody saw how I won this fight, and everybody is waiting for the rematch {with Lopez}, so let’s make a rematch.”

Lopez is scheduled to make his first defense of those titles against George Kambosos Jr. in August. If he comes out as the victor, a rematch with Lomachenko will likely be next. As far as when that would be, Lomachenko said the following:

“December, January, February, I am waiting.”

Cover photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank via Getty Images

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