On the back of underestimating how much the size difference would come into play against Teofimo Lopez, Vasyl Lomachenko has taken on another big test.
Masayoshi Nakatani steps up to the plate this weekend, the five-foot eleven-inch beanpole, eyeing a massive upset in Las Vegas.
Ironically to Lopez himself, Nakatani has only lost once but managed to go the distance with the undisputed champion as “Loma” did.
As a former pound-for-pound king, Lomachenko is ready for the next chapter of achievement in his career, but he cannot take the Japanese fighter lightly.
Eight months after losing an undisputed lightweight title match, Lopez, “The Matrix,” returns Saturday night at Virgin Hotels in the world’s boxing capital.
Discussing the bout, Lomachenko did mention height as a factor.
“I can’t wait to be back in the ring. I’m very excited, and I want to show my best skills,” said Loma. “I want to prove to myself, my family, my friends, my team, who I am in the ring.
“He is a tough guy. He has the height and the reach. I think he is an excellent boxer. That’s why he was my choice as an opponent.
“It’s great to have fans [in the crowd]. They push us in the ring. They give us energy.”
On chasing a second fight with Lopez, he added: “I have a fight this Saturday, and after that, we can talk about a rematch. I want it!”
Nakatani stated he hoped to emulate pound-for-pound star Naoya Inoue in making waves in Nevada.
“A fellow Japanese fighter [Inoue] a great performance is very motivating for me,” pointed out the underdog. “This is a fight that I have to win and that I want to win.
“When this fight came up, I felt that it is the biggest fight of my career. But getting the fight doesn’t mean anything. I must win for this fight to mean something. I’m going to win!”
In the 10-round middleweight co-feature, undefeated sensation Janibek “Qazaq Style” Alimkhanuly will fight former world champion Rob “Bravo” Brant.
Both talked about their collision during fight week proceedings.
“I’m feeling amazing. It’s never a surprise being the underdog. I’m looking forward to it. You have to take risks. I have no problem with being the underdog,” said Brant.
“I learned a lot of patience and guidance from my trainer, [Brian] ‘BoMac’ McIntyre.
“I’m known as a high-volume boxer. But with BoMac, I have learned and developed a lot of patience.
“This is Top Rank. Everyone wants to be at the highest level, and I want to prove that I belong here. My focus is 100 percent on beating Janibek on Saturday.”
Alimkhanuly said: “This fight is very important for me. I’m 100 percent ready, and Saturday night, I’m going to show what ‘Qazaq Style’ is all about.
“Very soon, I’ll be fighting as the main event. Three years ago, I started training with Buddy McGirt. I like him a lot.
“He is looking to add more tools to the style that I already have. We are already looking to win a world title together.”
VASILIY LOMACHENKO vs. MASAYOSHI NAKATANI CARD
Vasiliy Lomachenko vs. Masayoshi Nakatani, 12 rounds, lightweight
Janibek Alimkhanuly vs. Rob Brant, ten rounds, Alimkhanuly’s WBO Global and WBC Continental Americas Middleweight Titles
ESPN+, 7:15 p.m. ET/4:15 p.m. PT
Giovani Santillan vs. Cecil McCalla, 10/8 rounds, welterweight
Robert Rodriguez vs. Luis Fernando Saavedra, 6 rounds, bantamweight
Guido Vianello vs. Marlon Williams, four rounds, heavyweight
Floyd Diaz vs. Jaime Jasso, four rounds, bantamweight
Subaru Murata vs. Keven Monroy, four rounds, junior featherweight
DeMichael Harris vs. Jonatan Hernan Godoy, four rounds, lightweight
Both fights will stream live and exclusively on ESPN+ at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT, with undercard bouts set to begin on ESPN+ at 7:15 p.m. ET/4:15 p.m. PT.