Masayoshi Nakatani put himself in the shop window on Saturday night with an exceptional win against Felix Verdejo inside the MGM Grand Bubble.
Trailing big on the scorecards, Nakatani came from behind and earned his career’s most significant win.
Nakatani (19-1, 13 KOs) scored a pair of knockdowns late on to stop Puerto Rican star Felix Verdejo in the ninth round of a scheduled ten-round lightweight bout.
Knocked down in the first and fourth rounds, Nakatani, in his first bout since a decision loss to Teofimo Lopez in July 2019, stormed back with a pair of knockdowns in the ninth to clinch the shocking stoppage.
Verdejo (27-2, 17 KOs) saw his four-bout winning streak come to an end, and at the time of the stoppage, he was leading on all three scorecards (78-72 2x and 77-74).
After the bout, a jubilant Nakatani set his sights on a rematch with Lopez, now the undisputed lightweight world champion.
“I fought Lopez, and I wanted to fight him again, and that’s why I kept going,” Nakatani said. “I want to go for the knockout like I did today, and that’s going to be my style.”
Lower down the bill, featherweight Robeisy Ramirez (6-1, 4 KOs) halted Brandon Valdes (13-2, 7 KOs) in the sixth round.
The two-time Cuban Olympic gold medalist Ramirez authored his career’s complete performance, becoming the first man to stop Colombian veteran Valdes.
Referee Russell Mora deducted a point from Valdes in the sixth for low blows. Soon after the foul, Ramirez unloaded on Valdes in a neutral corner.
Mora stepped in and halted the bout with 11 seconds remaining in the round.
Finally, light flyweight Jesse Rodriguez (13-0, 9 KOs) stopped Saul Juarez (25-13-2, 13 KOs) in two.
San Antonio product Rodriguez, 20, dominated the former two-time world title challenger. He sent him to the canvas for the full 10-count with a left uppercut.
Rodriguez has now won five straight fights via stoppage.