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Vasily Lomachenko returns this Saturday against Masayoshi Nakatani on Espn

Image: Vasily Lomachenko returns this Saturday against Masayoshi Nakatani on Espn

By Jeff Aronow: Vasily Lomachenko will be returning to the ring this Saturday night on June 26th against Masayoshi Nakatani on ESN+ and Sky Sports at the Virgin Hotels Las Vegas. The start time for the Lomachenko vs. Nakatani card is at 10:00 p.m. ET/ 7:00 p.m. PT.

The former three-division world champion Lomachenko (14-2, 10 KOs) is fighting for the first time since losing his WBA/WBC/WBO lightweight titles to Teofimo Lopez last October.

There was some concern with fans whether Lomachenko, 33, would return after the loss to Teofimo. It’s tough for Top Rank to be staging the Lomachenko vs. Nakatani card on the ESPN+ app on the same night as the Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis vs. Mario Barrios fight on Showtime.

Many boxing fans will be tuning in to watch Davis’ fight against Barrios because it’s an interesting one, given that Tank is moving up to 140 to challenge WBA ‘regular’ champ Barrios for his belt.

After all, it was a huge setback for the two-time Olympic gold medalist getting beaten by such a wide set of scores from the judges. They had Teofimo winning the fight by these scores: 116-112, 119-109, 117-111.

Loma wants to win back all of his three titles, WBA, WBC Franchise, and WBO lost to Teofimo. However, he’ll likely need to wait until one of the sanctioning bodies makes him a mandatory for those titles because none of the champions are showing interest in giving Loma a voluntary title shot.

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Lomachenko’s efforts at getting a rematch with the 23-year-old Teofimo have failed, and he’s now stuck fighting Nakatani (19-1, 10 KOs) won’t be an easy out for him.

Teofimo justifies his reasons for not giving Lomachenko a second fight, saying that his overconfidence led him not put to insert a rematch clause in their contract for their October 17th fight last year.

Since Lomachenko failed to do that, it’s his mistake, and Teofimo won’t give him a rematch. Many boxing fans view Teofimo’s stance as showing that he lacks the confidence to fight him again.

The 5’11” Nakatani will make it potentially problematic for the 5’7″ Lomachenko due to his huge four-inch height and six-inch reach advantage.

Nakatani knows how to use his size to his advantage, jabbing from the outside and nailing his smaller 135-lb opponents as they’re coming forward.

In Nakatani’s last fight against former amateur star Felix Verdejo last December, he stopped him in the ninth round.

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It was a minor upset as many boxing fans believed Verdejo would be too young and too powerful for Nakatani to deal with. Initially, it looked that way, with Verdejo knocking Nakatani down twice in the first and fourth rounds.

Nakatani stuck with it, wearing Verdejo down until dropping him twice in the ninth round to get the knockout. That fight is by far the biggest win on Nakatani’s ten-year professional resume.

In Nakatani’s other big fight of his career, he gave Teofimo all he could handle in losing a 12 round unanimous decision against him in July 2019.

Nakatani was putting hands on Teofimo throughout the contest, hitting the New Yorker as he would come forward. Teofimo wasn’t used to getting hit so much, and he was an unhappy camper afterward, saying he wouldn’t be fighting any more tall guys like Nakatani.

Lomachenko will need to be 100% healthy for this fight because it’s not going to work if he secretly is hiding a lingering shoulder issue.

We didn’t know that Lomahenko had a shoulder problem until after his recent loss to Teofimo, and he should have postponed it.

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