Former pound-for-pound king Vasyl Lomachenko is preparing to return to the ring following his loss to Teofimo Lopez last year.
‘Loma’ was beaten by Lopez on points in an out-of-character performance as Lopez took the Ukrainian’s clutch of titles out of the Top Rank bubble.
Months on, and after much deliberation, it seems Lomachenko has decided to remain around the lightweight proximity.
Many had thought that the 2016 WBN Fighter of the Year would drop back down to super-featherweight.
Judging by his move to face a fringe WBO lightweight belt holder in Japan’s Masayochi Nakatani, this isn’t the case.
Lomachenko has favoritism with the WBO. And without a rematch clause included for his defeat to Lopez, Lomachenko has to earn the title right again.
Nakatani is rated number five. Lomachenko stands at number two. Therefore, the contest could be a final eliminator.
The current number one, George Kambosos Jr., gets his shot in the spring on Triller after a high-profile purse bid. This situation leaves Loamchenko free to contest the chance to be next in line with the World Boxing Organization.
Summer dates for Lomachenko vs. Nakatani are already being bandied around, with June or July earmarked for the expected ESPN clash.
LOMACHENKO & THE FUTURE FOUR
Once confirmed, the event will put Lomachenko firmly out of the frame to face any of the highly-regarded top four lightweights. Plenty expects the quartet to be at the very top of the sport for the considerable future.
Lopez is off the menu due to his mandatory duties. At the same time, Devin Haney will fight Jorge Linares in Las Vegas.
Ryan Garcia has Javier Fortuna next. Finally, Gervonta Davis has lots to deal with outside of boxing due to charges over a hit-and-run.
Fans had clung to hope that any of those five would be pitted together following months of call-outs in a pandemic free-for-all. None have come to fruition.
The most likely of those – looking to be Teofimo Lopez versus Devin Haney or Ryan Garcia – could still be a year away due to the WBC ordering Fortuna.
World Boxing Council chiefs will not be obliged to order the champ to face either, with Garcia being interim and Haney being the regular champion.
‘Teo’ would have fulfilled his latest mandatory and could then be sanctioned for a voluntary. Whether Haney vs. Garcia would then be on the cards is anyone’s guess.
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