It’s official: Vasiliy Lomachenko will return to action on June 26th in Las Vegas. The former pound-for-pound king will face Japanese slugger and all-round tough guy, Masayoshi Nakatini at Virgin Hotel in Vegas, the 135 pound encounter to go out on ESPN. As fans know, this will be Lomachenko’s first fight back since his big upset loss to Teofimo Lopez in October of last year. The 33 year old southpaw underwent shoulder surgery not too long after the decision loss to Lopez, this for the second time in his career.
Now, against Nakatini, a guy who loves to brawl and slug, Loma seems to have the opportunity to look good. Lomachenko isn’t likely to have to go looking for Nakatini. But how much has Lomachenko, 14-2(10) got left? Is his body breaking down, to unfixable proportions? Has that vast number of amateur fights, along with those hard training camps, caught up with Lomachenko?
Nakatini, 19-1(13) and beaten only by common opponent Lopez, pulled off an upset win of his own last time out, when he overcame a ton of punishment to stop Felix Verdejo in December of 2020. In the loss to Lopez, Nakatini showed his solid chin there too, hanging tough for all 12 rounds. So while the 32 year old is not hard to hit, he is strong, he is big for the weight and he has immense heart. If Lomachenko is past his best, and by a significant margin, who knows, maybe the warrior from Osaka will pull off the upset again.
Assuming the form book is to be obeyed, however, Lomachenko can get this win and then get back in there with the elite lightweights. Can Lomachenko become champion again? Lopez has said time and again how he has zero interest in a rematch with Lopez, but Lomachenko against a Devin Haney or a Ryan Garcia could prove to be very attractive fights.
But again, Nakatini wil be aiming to ruin any such plans on June 26th. Certainly, Lomachenko could have picked an easier comeback foe. Nakatini simply does not know when he is beaten!