By: Sean Crose
At 10 PM eastern time on Saturday, Vasyl Lomachenko will return to the ring for the first time since his decision loss to Teofimo Lopez in a high profile lightweight title bout last year. This time, the fighter known as Loma will be taking on Japan’s Masayoshi Nakatani. This match should prove interesting for two reasons. The first is that it will show the world how Loma is looking after the loss the Lopez. The second is that Nakatani, although perhaps not as talented as Loma, is considerably taller than the former titlist and also knows how to employ his power effectively.
The 19-1 Nakatani last fought in December when he stopped Felix Verdejo in nine. His only loss was to Lopez, who bested him via decision in 2019. All of the man’s last five victories have occurred within the distance. As for the 14-2 Loma, he’s certainly going to want to get back on track after the Lopez bout. Not only that, but he’s also going to want to look impressive in the process. Looking for another crack at Lopez, who fights under the same Top Rank Banner, Loma may have a lot to lose if he gives a lackluster performance on Saturday. The fight will be a scheduled 12 rounder.
Rising Kazakh middleweight Zhanibek Alimkhanuly will also be on the card, and will aim to improve his record to 10-0 when he faces the 26-2 Rob Brant. Alimkhanuly has won five of his nine fights by way of knockout. His last fight was back in October of last year when he got rid Gonzalo Coria in the second round. As for Brant, the man is looking to continue his winning ways since being bested by Ryota Murata back in 2019. Brant’s only fight since then has been an August 2020 win via retirement of Vitalii Kopylenko. The Alimkhaunly-Brant fight is scheduled for 10 rounds.
The card will be broadcast live on ESPN+. There is no doubt it will have some competition, as DAZN will be airing a card on Saturday and Gervonta Davis will be facing Mario Barrios on Pay Per View. Loma, however, has been one of the most dominant fighters of this era. The fact that this is his first showing after a major loss makes the card notable for fans. The undercard will be broadcast live on ESPN+ starting at 6:30 PM eastern time on Saturday night.