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Lomachenko hammers Nakatani in nine, calls for Lopez return

Vasiliy Lomachenko is back in business. After recovering from a shoulder injury and stinging points defeat to Teofimo Lopez last October, Ukrainian master Lomachenko showed reports of his demise were premature with a nine-round beatdown of Masayoshi Nakatani at The Theater in the Virgin Hotels resort in Las Vegas on Saturday.

After suffering a cut along his hairline from a headbutt in the opening round, Lomachenko (15-2, 11 KOs) never looked back as he drubbed a doughty Nakatani (19-2, 13 KOs) for nine one-sided rounds.

Lomachenko dropped Nakatani with a brisk left-right combination in the fifth before referee Celestino Ruiz finally halted the rout in the ninth.

Afterwards, the former pound-for-pound number one and three-weight champion petitioned for a rematch with Lopez.

“I’m happy because I won. All the strategies that we developed with my team [paid off]. I reached all my goals. I won and now I’m back on track,” Lomachenko told ESPN.

“Everybody saw how I won this fight, and everybody is waiting for the rematch, so let’s make a rematch. He has a fight in the future with [George] Kambosos, but how about after, in the beginning of next year? December, January, February, I am waiting.”

Lomachenko (15-2, 11 KOs) also paid tribute to master-cutman and Boxing Social columnist Russ Anber for keeping a potentially troublesome first-round cut under control.

“I want to [give a] thank you to my cutman Russ Anber,” said the Ukrainian southpaw after his comeback win. “He is a professional. He helped me win this fight.”

After looking listless early against the younger and physically bigger Lopez last time out, Lomachenko seemed rejuvenated on his return. His punches carried renewed speed and zap as Nakatani (19-2, 13 KOs) was forced to adopt a rearguard action.

The lanky Japanese contender was wobbled by a straight left in the third and winded to the body in the fourth as Lomachenko resembled something closer to the force of old.

Nakatani held and spoiled as best as he could but Lomachenko dropped him with a left-right in the fifth and, by the sixth, the Japanese fighter was bleeding from the nose and mouth.

In the seventh, Lomachenko was landing at will, prompting concern from Nakatani’s corner and the ringside physician. With his right eye swelling, Nakatani was wobbled in the ninth by a left hand and taking big lumps when the fight was called off by the third man.

Meanwhile, Janibek ‘Qazaq Style’ Alimkhanuly underlined his considerable promise with an emphatic eight-round stoppage of former WBA middleweight belt holder Rob Brant.

It was one-way traffic throughout. Firmly in command, Kazakh southpaw Alimkhanuly (10-0, 6 KOs) eventually dropped the outgunned Brant with a straight left in the sixth. Looking out of sorts, Minnesota’s Brant was pulled out by his corner after the eighth with little left in the tank.

“Tonight, I showed the world what ‘Qazaq Style’ is about. Rob Brant is a former world champion for a reason, but I came here to showcase my full arsenal, and that’s what I did,” said 160-pounder Alimkhanuly.

“I am highly ranked, and I have the confidence to fight any middleweight in the world. I had a great training camp with Buddy McGirt, and this was the result of all the hard work we did in camp.” 

Main image: Mikey Williams/Top Rank.