Vasiliy Lomachenko vs. Masayoshi Nakatani Odds, Pick & Prediction: Loma Returns to Ring After Loss (Saturday, June 26)
Mikey Williams/Top Rank via Getty Images. Pictured: Boxer Vasiliy Lomachenko.
- Former unified lightweight champion Vasiliy Lomachenko is back in the ring on Saturday night after nearly nine months away.
- It's Lomachenko's first fight since his upset loss to Teofimo Lopez in October. The loss cost Lomachenko his WBA and WBO lightweight titles.
- Malik Smith breaks down below whether or not he thinks Lomachenko can bounce back.
Lomachenko vs. Nakatani Odds
Former unified lightweight champion Vasiliy Lomachenko (14-2, 10 KO) will return to the ring after losing his belts to Teofimo Lopez in October. In the opposing corner, Masayoshi Nakatani (19-1, 13 KO) gets to test his skill against one of boxing’s best Saturday night in Las Vegas.
In Nakatani’s last time out, he scored an impressive come from behind knockout win vs. Felix Verdejo. Can he carry that momentum into this fight, or will Lomachenko get back on track?
Let’s take a look at both sides and find out.
Lomachenko has a very consistent strategy in his fights where he starts slowly and picks things up mid-way applying more pressure as the fight wears on.
Prior to 2020, that approach worked to perfection, but Lopez used that strategy against Loma by pressing him early and keeping the jab in his face so he never got a rhythm going. Loma threw just 58 total punches through the first six rounds of the fight as he tried to figure out Lopez who had thrown 239 over that same span.
That provides a solid blueprint for Nakatani to follow entering Saturday’s match. In his two fights since coming over to the US, he’s been the more active man early on.
Against Lopez, Nakatani came out of the gates strong — he had the edge in punches thrown ( 160-107) through three rounds and punches landed (39-31) — and Teofimo was forced to pick up the pace.
In his next fight against Verdejo, Nakatani survived two early knockdowns in Round 1 and Round 4 and remained active throughout. You have to credit him for getting caught with two good shots and still looking like the fresher, more aggressive man late in the fight.
There’s no doubt that Lomachenko has the advantage in experience and skill in this fight. The key question in this matchup is whether Nakatani’s 4.5-inch height advantage and 5.5-inch reach advantage will bother Lomachenko. Luke Campbell (5-foot-9) is the tallest opponent Lomachenko has faced and Nakatani 2 inches taller than Campbell.
If Lomachenko allows Nakatani to bank early rounds by being more aggressive, he’ll be fighting from behind against a guy who has proven he can go into deep waters with a skilled puncher.
Lomachenko vs. Nakatani Pick
Lomachenko has more ways to win this matchup. Nakatani is a solid fighter, but he has some holes in his game and was put down twice in his last fight.
One the first knockdown, got caught with a great right hand while he was backing up and left himself open. On the second knockdown, he got countered with a right hand because he left himself open trying to throw a jab. Those are mistakes that Lomachenko can easily capitalize on if Nakatani gives him the opportunity.
Even in Loma’s loss, he landed 42% of his jabs and 45% of his power punches. Accuracy isn’t an issue for Lomachenko, but activity in the early rounds is still an unknown. I don’t suspect Lomachenko will give away the early rounds in this fight, but I do think he’ll save his energy for the latter half of the fight.
The value here seems to be on either a late finish or Lomachenko going the distance. BetMGM has the fight ending in Rounds 7-12 at +260 and Rounds 10-12 at +700 and both are tempting.
You could make the case that the best version of Lomachenko’s start-slow-finish-strong plan would result in a late KO. But Nakatani has shown that he can keep going after taking a solid punch and if Lomachenko can’t get him out of there with a late flurry, he should be able to bank enough rounds to win comfortably. He’s +110 to win on the cards and despite his stated desire to knockout a man that Lopez couldn’t I think he’ll play it safe.
Pick: Lomachenko by Decision (+110)