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Hatton: Lomachenko is the dark horse of the lightweight division

After losing his lightweight world titles on the cards to Teofimo Lopez last October, Vasiliy Lomachenko was widely written off as yesterday’s man. But British boxing icon Ricky Hatton feels that the Ukrainian maestro proved he is still a major force in the 135lbs division following his nine-round dissection of Masayoshi Nakatani at the weekend.

Lomachenko (15-2, 11 KOs) looked back to something near his best in Las Vegas on Saturday, easily brushing aside the lanky Japanese contender who was expected to present some problems with his size, heart and durability. 

While many eyes are focused on the young guns of the lightweight division like Lopez, Ryan Garcia, Devin Haney and the weight-hopping Gervonta Davis, Hatton believes you write off Lomachenko at your peril.

“I think Vasiliy Lomachenko is still very much the force he once was. He was winning these fights with absolute ease and I think when Teofimo Lopez came along, I think 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,” Hatton told Metro.

“He finished the fight strongly against Lopez, I think he started in the first few rounds like he had just got out of bed. He found himself realising, ‘Jesus, this guy is better than I thought’. And when he decided to put his foot down it was too late. Let’s have it right, he was a three-weight world champion after 12 fights and he was winning fights with such ease 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.

“Because he got beat by Lopez, people have forgotten about him a bit. You look at how many fights he lost as an amateur – just one that he went onto avenge – and how many titles he won after just a handful of fights. Can we really blame him, with the success he’s had, for just taking his eye off the ball? Of course we can’t. I think he is the dark horse of the division. Everyone is talking about Ryan Garcia and Devin Haney but I think Loma is still the one to watch.”