Two time Olympic Medalist and former three division champion Vasily Lomachenko made a massive return to the ring with a brutal ninth round knockout victory over Japanese contender Masayoshi Nakatani on Saturday night at the The Theater at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas.
Lomachenko was making his first appearance in the ring since losing his titles to Teofimo Lopez eight months ago and many were out to see the improvements the 33 year old will make. Loma didn’t disappoint, giving different angles in the opening round and controlling the fight. However, he was forced to overcome an early cut caused by an accidental clash of heads.
Loma was quick to thank his cut man Russ Anber after the fight for quickly handling the cut, which was less noticed after the first round.
“I want to thank you to my cutman Russ Anber,” Lomachenko told ESPN’s Bernardo Osuna after the fight. “He is a professional. He helped me win this fight.”
Loma returned again in the second round with a renewed vibe, connecting a big left, which hurt Nakatani and forced him to want a clinch. Loma closed Nakatani down and connected combinations from close range in the third and made it out quickly before Nakatani regained his composure for a counter.
Loma connected a huge body shot on Nakatani that almost lifted the Japanese off the canvas but that was retaliated later in the round, when the Japanese landed many shots on the former champion. However, a few strayed low and drew a warning from the referee.
Nakatani couldn’t stop the devastation Lomachenko was causing, when he breaks in and instead tried engaging Loma in a clinch each time he worked his way inside, making the fight look more than wrestling but that made things a little worst as Nakatani was sent to the canvas after an overhand write hand.
Lomachenko sensed the fight was coming to an early close and was out to get the knockout. He forced Nakatani to the ropes and there landed numerous shots that caused a bleeding from the Japanese nose. He was able to fight through the storm and survived the round.
All hell was let loose in the seventh round as Lomachenko kept landing straight left, repeatedly that the corners and the ring side physician got concerned for possible issues with his eye sight due to so many shots to the head. The fight was now one sided with Nakatani wasn’t landing back anymore.
The eight round was mostly the same as, Lomachenko badly wobbled the contender from Osaka, Japan. Things weren’t going his way too in round nine but his fighting heart kept him going towards Lomachenko, trying to land. Loma connected a series of left hands upstairs, which caused a swelling and sent the Japanese to the canvas before the referee stepped in to stop the fight.
Lomachenko handed Nakatani the first knockout loss of his professional career, dropping his record to 19-2, 13KOs. Before now he had only lost to Teofimo Lopez by decision in their IBF title eliminator, which led to his career defining win over Lomachenko.
Lomachenko (15-2, 11KOs) will now set his sights on reclaiming his lightweight crown from Teofimo Lopez.