Don’t expect much to change in the career of Vasiliy Lomachenko, least of all his current weight class.
The former three-division titlist envisions a future that re-establishes his place atop the lightweight division, a status he held until last October. A 12-round unanimous decision defeat to Teofimo Lopez (16-0, 12KOs) saw Lomachenko reduced to contender status for the first time since his first year as a pro, having won his first major title—the WBO featherweight belt—in his third pro fight.
The first step towards returning to the title stage comes this weekend. Ukraine’s Lomachenko (14-0, 12KOs) collides with Japan’s Masayoshi Nakatani (19-1-1, 13KOs) this Saturday, live on ESPN+ from The Theater at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas. It has been suggested that a win could lead to a rematch with Lopez later this year or in early 2022.
“We have this fight first. After that, who knows,” Lomachenko told BoixngScene.com. But yes, I definitely want that fight again.”
The insistence to stick around at lightweight and take on a stiff challenge in the 5’11½” Nakatani comes after prior speculation of moving back down in weight. Lomachenko was arguably at his absolute best at junior lightweight, where he scored knockout wins in all five fights at the weight—all coming in title fights shortly after reigning as a featherweight titlist.
Lomachenko continued his pound-for-pound run at lightweight, though not quite as dominant in his third weight division. The Ukrainian southpaw had to survive the lone knockdown of his career in order to drop and stop Jorge Linares in securing the WBA lightweight title in May 2018. Seven months later came a clear 12-round win over Jose Pedraza in their WBA/WBO title unification clash, followed by wins over British lightweights Anthony Crolla and Luke Campbell in his 2019.
The loss to Lopez—which took place last October 17 at MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas—was competitive but clear, though not enough to discourage Lomachenko from abandoning the lightweight division.
At least, not yet.
“If I was offered to fight for all four titles at junior lightweight, I would absolutely take that fight,” admits Lomachenko. “In the meantime, I intend to stay at lightweight, win back all of my titles and become undisputed champion.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox