Vasiliy Lomachenko is on a mission to reclaim his place among the sport’s very best.
Step one for the two-time Olympic Gold medalist and former three-division titlist comes this Saturday, as Lomachenko (14-2, 10KOs) faces Japan’s Masayoshi Nakatani (19-1, 13KOs) in a scheduled 12-round lightweight contest. Both boxers made weight for their bout Saturday evening, which streams live on ESPN+ from Virgin Hotels Las Vegas.
Ukraine’s Lomachenko weighed 134.6 pounds, while Nakatani tipped the scale at a fighting ready 134.4 pounds.
The bout marks the first for Lomachenko since his 12-round points loss to Teofimo Lopez (16-0, 12KOs) in their WBA “Super”/IBF/WBO lightweight title unification clash last October 17 at MGM Grand Conference Center (“The Bubble”) in Las Vegas. It marked the first loss for the 33-year-old Ukrainian southpaw since his second pro fight, when he fell just short versus an overweight Orlando Salido in their March 2014 featherweight title fight.
Lomachenko rattled off 13 consecutive wins after that, all coming in major title fights spanning three weight divisions.
Nakatani enters on the heels of his biggest career win to date. The 32-year-old lightweight from Tokyo rallied from two early knockdowns to twice floor Puerto Rico’s Felix Verdejo en route to a ninth-round stoppage last December 12, also at MGM Grand Conference Center. Their Fight of the Year contender came nearly 17 months after Nakatani offered a stiff challenge in a 12-round decision loss to Lopez in their July 2019 IBF title eliminator.
Opening the main ESPN+ telecast—which begins 10:00 p.m. ET/7:00 p.m. PT—former WBA “World” middleweight titlist Rob Brant faces unbeaten Janibek Alimkhanuly in a scheduled 10-round regional middleweight title fight.
Brant (26-2, 18KOs) weighed 159.6 pounds as did Alimkhanuly, a 2016 Olympian for Kazakhstan.
The fight is the second for Brant with new head trainer, the renowned and respected Brian ‘Bomac’ McIntyre. The two hooked up following his July 2019 rematch loss to Ryota Murata, a 2nd round stoppage that came nine months after soundly outpointing the 2012 Olympic Gold medalist in October 2018.
Brant—originally from Minnesota who now hails out of Dallas—returned to the win column with a 5th round stoppage of Vitalii Kopylenko last August 22 in the Las Vegas MGM Bubble.
Alimkhanuly (9-0, 5KOs) has scored three straight knockouts heading into his toughest test to date. The 28-year old Kazakh southpaw—who is guided by Hall of Fame former two-division champ and world-class cornerman Buddy McGirt and multi-time Manager of the Year Egis Klimas—earned a 2nd round knockout of Gonzalo Gaston Coria last October 9, also at the MGM Bubble.
Below are the weights for the remaining undercard bouts on the preliminary ESPN+ livestream, airing live beginning 7:15 p.m. ET/4:15 p.m. PT.
Giovani Santillan (26-0, 15KOs), San Diego, 147.6 pounds vs. Cecil McCalla (23-4, 10KOs), Randallstown, Maryland, 147.4 pounds—8/10 rounds (swing bout), welterweight
Robert Rodriguez (9-0-1, 5KOs), Riverside, California, 118.8 pounds vs. Luis Fernando Saavedra, San Luis Potosi, Mexico (8-6, 3KOs), 118.8 pounds—6 rounds, bantamweight
Floyd Diaz (1-0, 0KOs), Las Vegas, 117.8 pounds vs. Jaime Jasso (2-0, 0KOs), Laredo, Texas 116.2 pounds—4 rounds, bantamweight
Guido Vianello (7-0-1, 7KOs), Rome, Italy, 244 pounds vs. Marlon Williams (6-1 ,3KOs), Warren, Ohio, 217 ½ pounds—4 rounds, heavyweight Subaru Murata (debut), Tokyo, 121.6 pounds vs. Keven Monroy (1-1, 1KO), Stockton, California, 119.8 pounds—4 rounds, junior featherweight
DeMichael Harris (3-0, 3KOs), Cleveland, 134.2 pounds vs. Jonatan Hernan Godoy (5-8, 0KOs), Buenos Aires, 134.2 pounds—4 rounds, lightweight
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox