Ricky Hatton believes that Vasily Lomachenko is back before his surprising defeat last October against Teofimo Lopez. Last weekend, the two-time Olympic gold medalist Lomachenko looked better than ever in putting on a masterclass performance in beating Masayoshi Nakatani (19-2, 13 KOs) by a ninth round knockout in the headliner on ESPN+ at the Virgin Hotels Las Vegas.
After the fight, Lomachenko’s promoter Bob Arum was quite pleased with his victory, talking about setting up a rematch with Teofimo on ESPN pay-per-view. If Teofimo is successful with his title defense against George Kambosos Jr n September 11th, we could see Teo battle Lomachenko in a rematch in December or early 2022.
Hatton attributes the former WBA/WBC Franchise/WBO 135lb champion Lomacehenko’s defeat to Teofimo for him not being fully focused in the way he needed to be.
Until that time, Lomachenko had experienced nothing but success since his controversial loss to Orlando Salido in 2014; he didn’t take Teofimo (16-0, 12 KOs) seriously in the way he needed to him to win.
Lomachenko’s performance last Saturday night in destroying highly ranked contender Nakatani by a ninth round knockout on ESPN showed Hatton that he’s fully back from his shoulder problem.
“I think Lomachenko is still very much the force he once was,” said Hatton to the Metro.
“He just took his eye off the ball and took it a little bit too lightly because he had been winning his previous fights so comfortably.
“He finished the fight strongly against Lopez. He found himself realizing, ‘Jesus; this guy is better than I thought.‘ And when he decided to put his foot down, it was too late.
“He just took Lopez lightly. And that would have hurt him. He was regarded by so many as the best pound-for-pound fighter around. I think he will come back better than ever,” said Hatton about Lomachenko.
It probably won’t make Teofimo Lopez and his boxing fans too happy to hear Hatton be so dismissive about his win over Lomachenko, but you can understand where he’s coming from.
Hatton isn’t saying that Lomachenko took the fight with the brash Teofimo with a right-shoulder injury that made it difficult for him to use that arm.
After the fight, Lomachenko had shoulder surgery, and his arm is now back to where it was. Besides the shoulder problem, there wasn’t the same motivation for Lomachenko as there is now for the Teofimo fight.
Getting beaten by Teofimo has upset Lomachenko to the point where he wants revenge badly, and he’s going to fight harder than ever when he gets him in the ring.
Also, Lomachenko has already figured out how to beat Teofimo, and he now knows how to get the better of him by pushing at a fast pace and pressuring.
The asthmatic Teofimo likely won’t be as good in the rematch because he’ll be coming off of COVID 19 and the wear & tear of what could be a difficult fight for him against the highly motivated Kambosos Jr in September.
We don’t know how effective Teofimo will be when he returns from the COVID. It’s difficult enough for non-athletes to come back from that illness to try and live as they had before.
It could be a lot tougher for Teofimo because he will need to be at 100% stamina to handle the talent and the fast pace that Lomachenko will be setting.
Teofimo shouldn’t be fighting at 135 at this point in his career. He walks around as a muscular 160+ lbs, and he should be fighting at 147. Teofimo is planning on moving up to 140 in 2022, but he should be fighting at 147, as big as he is.
With that being said, it’s going to be very difficult for Teofimo to make the weight cut to get to 135 for the Lomachenko rematch, and Teo may gas after four or five rounds and be fighting on fumes from that point on.