Former lightweight champion Vasiliy Lomachenko returns to the ring on Saturday (ESPN+, 7:15 p.m. ET) to face Masayoshi Nakatani in the main event of a Top Rank Boxing card at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas. This is Lomachenko’s first fight since losing his belts to Teofimo Lopez in October 2020.
Lomachenko (14-2, 10 KOs), 33, of Ukraine, is taking a big risk against Nakatani (19-1, 13 KOs), 32, of Japan, who in 2019 gave Lopez one of the toughest fights of his career. Defeating Nakatani could be a good way for Lomachenko to reestablish himself as top fighter in the division. And he knows it.
“I can’t wait to be back in the ring,” Lomachenko said at a press conference on Thursday. I’m very excited and I want to show my best skills. I want to prove to myself, my family, my friends, my team, who I am in the ring.”
Gervonta Davis (24-0, 23 KOs), 26, of Baltimore, is moving up in weight to face junior welterweight titlist Mario Barrios (26-0, 17 KOs), 26, of San Antonio, Texas, who holds the WBA “regular” belt (Showtime PPV, 9 p.m. ET). While Davis, who has titles at junior lightweight and lightweight, is the smaller fighter, he said he has been fighting bigger guys in the gym to get ready for Barrios, and believes he can become a three-division titleholder on Saturday.
“I hate when people think that I’m small and try to take advantage of me,” Davis said. “I think he is making a mistake. It’s not just the height. He thinks he’s stronger than me, so we are just going to have to wait and see. If he believes that I’ve never seen anyone like him, then so be it. But they always learn on fight night. That’s when the real me comes out.”
In another boxing card in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico (DAZN, 7 p.m. ET), Julio Cesar Martinez defends his WBC flyweight world title against Joel Cordova, and Daniel Matellon puts his WBA interim junior flyweight belt on the line against Jose Argumedo.
Follow along with Brett Okamoto and Michael Rothstein as they recap the action from the biggest boxing cards of the night.
In Las Vegas: Fight in progress — Vasiliy Lomachenko vs. Masayoshi Nakatani, 12 rounds, lightweights
In Mexico: Fight in progress — Julio Cesar Martinez vs. Joel Cordova, 12 rounds, for Martinez’s WBC flyweight title
In Atlanta: Fight in progress — Erickson Lubin vs. Jeison Rosario, 12 rounds, WBC junior middleweight title eliminator
Alimkhanuly overwhelms former champ Brant, scores TKO
Kazakhstan middleweight Janibek Alimkhanuly (10-0, 6 KOs) breezed to an eighth round TKO of Rob Brant (26-3, 18 KOs), after Brant’s corner determined he could not answer the bell for the start of the ninth.
It was a merciful conclusion to a one-sided rout for Alimkhanuly. The 28-year-old southpaw hurt Brant at the end of the fifth round, and knocked him down moments later at the start of the sixth. Brant soldered on after the knockdown, but his offense was non-existent.
Alimkhanuly continued to land power punches from the left side, occasionally smiling at Brant as he did. He rarely threw in combinations, but didn’t have to. He was efficient with his movements and pressure and just generally sharper than Brant.
Adames stops Salazar in Round 3
Carlos Adames had Alexis Salazar against the ropes. He came at him from behind and in front of him. And eventually, at 2:59 into the third round, with a left hook to Salazar’s face, Adames knocked him out.
Adames, clearly the superior and more aggressive fighter, had been setting it up since the start of the fight.
“I was in control [the entire fight],” Adames said in the ring on the Showtime telecast after the fight.
Adames said he was working the jab to set up the left hook that ended the fight. Salazar (23-4, 9 KO), from Mexico, tried to get up — but then he staggered backward. Twice. It was then the referee finally called off the bout, giving Adames (20-1, 16 KO), from the Dominican Republic his second straight win in a span of a little over three months, after a layoff of almost two years.
The only flaw in Adames’ night were the multiple instances when he got behind Salazar and then tried to come from behind to hit him — a move the referee eventually disciplined Adames for after one such instance when Salazar turned his back to him.
Daniel Matellon defeated Jose Argumedo by unanimous decision> With the victory, Matellon defends his WBA interim junior flyweight title. He has won 10 consecutive fights since back-to-back draws in 2016 and 1017.
In Atlanta: Akhmedov outpowers Mendez to earn TKO victory
Betyr Akhmedov had a cut open over his eye early on, but it didn’t matter — by the time it was done against Algenis Mendez, Akhmedov was the one who ended up jumping onto the ropes in the corner to celebrate.
Akhmedov methodically worked down Mendez Saturday night to pick up a win in a WBA junior welterweight title eliminator, after Mendez suffered a hand injury in the eighth round.
Akhmedov (9-1, 8 KO) had started to take over the fight in the later rounds against Mendez (25-7-3, 12 KO), who hasn’t won a fight since 2018. Mendez, in that time, had two straight draws, and then a pair of losses — first to Richardson Hitchins, and now Akhmedov.
In Las Vegas: Santillan outpoints McCalla for unanimous decision
Giovanni Santillan, 29, of San Diego, outworked Cecil McCalla, 36, of Randallstown, Maryland, over the course of eight welterweight rounds for a unanimous decision victory.
Santillan (27-0, 15 KOs) committed to a heavy pressure strategy, which simply overwhelmed McCalla (23-5, 10 KOs) all night. Santillan never really had McCalla hurt, but he bullied him around the ring one round after another, working the body and shoving him into the ropes.
Judges scored the bout 80-72, 79-73 and 78-74.
In Las Vegas: Saavedra dominates Rodriguez, wins unanimous decision
Luis Fernando Saavedra, 24, of Mexico, cruised to an easy decision win over Robert Rodriguez, 22, of San Antonio, in a six-round bantamweight fight.
Saavedra (9-6, 3 KOs) attacked Rodriguez (9-1-1, 5 KOs) to the body from start to finish, and Rodriguez had no answer. Saavedra employed that game plan early and wasn’t forced to deviate. Rodriguez never looked comfortable with his jab or counter punches, and the judges’ scorecards — which read 60-54, 60-54 and 59-55 — show that clearly.
In Mexico: Christian Alan Gomez Duran defeated Jorge Perez Sanchez by ninth-round KO. Gomez has won five consecutive fights, all by stoppage, since losing an eighth-round TKO to Daniel Echeverria in April 2019.
In Las Vegas: “Cash” Diaz dominates Jasso to stay unbeaten
It was a good night for the hometown kid, as 18-year-old Las Vegas prospect Floyd Diaz earned a clear decision over Jaime Jasso, 19, of Laredo, Texas, in a bantamweight fight.
Diaz (2-0, 0 KOs) proved to be quicker and more technical than Jasso (2-1, 0 KOs) over the course of four entertaining rounds. Jasso was not out of his league against Diaz, but he struggled to match his foot and hand speed. Diaz dropped his hands on multiple occasions, inviting Jasso to throw punches. He also didn’t mind standing in the pocket at times, where his defense held up.
All three judges scored the bout a clean sweep for Diaz 40-36. He arguably did his best work in the third round, shortly after Jasso shook his head in his direction — a gesture to indicate his punches were having little effect.
Diaz turned pro earlier this year inside the Top Rank bubble at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
In Mexico: Diego Pacheco vs. Jesus Moroyoqui Palomares by sixth-round TKO. Pacheco dominated Palomares, and eventually a flurry of punches forced the referee to stop the fight in Round 6.
In Las Vegas: Vianello demolishes Williams in first-round TKO
Heavyweight Guido Vianello, 27, of Rome, made quick work of Marlon Williams, 37, of Lafayette, in the form of a first-round TKO stoppage.
Vianello (8-0-1, 8 KOs) simply took away Williams’ will to fight. He dropped Williams at the 20-second mark with a right hand to the body, and even though Williams (6-2, 3 KOs) got to his feet and continued, the fight was over from that point on. Once action resumed, Vianello sprinted across the ring and forced Williams to a knee with a short burst of punches.
At the conclusion of the first round, Williams went to his corner and appeared ready to answer the bell for the second, but the referee ruled it a TKO and did not allow the second round to begin.
In Las Vegas: Murata makes successful debut
In his professional debut, Subaru Murata, 24, of Tokyo, knocked out Kevin Monroy, 21, of Stockton, California, with a vicious left hand at the 1:42 mark of the second round.
Monroy (1-2, 1 KO) immediately protested the stoppage, but it was easy to understand referee Russell Mora’s decision. Murata landed a stiff three-punch combination leading up to the finish. The punches put Monroy’s back against the ropes, and Murata pounced with a straight left. Monroy immediately went limp and fell awkwardly to the canvas, with his right leg tucked beneath him. Monroy did get back to his feet relatively quickly, but the junior featherweight bout had already been waved off.
Murata kicked off his pro career with a flourish, following an amateur career in which he went 4-4.
In Mexico: Gabriel Valenzuela defeats Juan Ocura by seventh-round TKO. Valenzuela hasn’t lost since March 2017 and has a record of 21-0-1 since then.
In Las Vegas: Harris dominates Godoy in TKO win
DeMichael Harris, 24, of Cleveland, extended his perfect start in professional boxing with a third-round TKO of lightweight Jonatan Hernan Godoy.
Harris (4-0, 4 KOs) punished Godoy (5-9, 0 KOs), 29, of Buenos Aires, with left hands to the body before putting Godoy away with the right hand. He scored three knockdowns in the third round, starting with a left hook to the body with a minute left. Godoy took a knee twice more at the 30-second mark, and then right before the bell. His corner opted to call it before the fourth round began.
Still to come:
In Atlanta (Showtime PPV)
Title fight: Mario Barrios vs. Gervonta Davis, 12 rounds, for Barrios’ WBA “regular” junior welterweight title