Scott Christ (38-11-2)
I love Masayoshi Nakatani as a fighter, I’ll always be happy to see him on my screen, but I think this is the level where he’s more nuisance than genuine threat. He’s tall and tough and can take a beating without going away, but is he really any true danger to Vasiliy Lomachenko? I think only if Loma has lingering shoulder issues, or they crop up again in this fight itself, and they’ll have to be pretty severe.
The Lomachenko that fought Lopez would have beaten Nakatani. It might not have been his most dominant performance, but he would have beaten Nakatani. At 33, I think Loma is pushing the back end of his prime years, especially fighting as a lightweight. But he’ll win here. I see him starting a bit slow to crack the code on the exact angles he’s going to take, but he’ll find them within three or four rounds, and then start to pick Nakatani apart. I could see this getting ugly and one-sided enough for a referee to step in if Nakatani’s got some battered eyes or the like. Lomachenko TKO-10
How to Watch Lomachenko vs Nakatani
Wil Esco (40-9-2)
When this fight was first announced I’ll admit that I was a bit taken aback, because I truly believe this to be a very dangerous fight for Lomachenko to accept while just coming off his loss to Teofimo Lopez. Nakatani doesn’t have the technical acumen that’s really going to wow the fans with the aesthetics, but he’s also going to dwarf Lomachenko in the ring. If Lomachenko has learned anything from his loss to Lopez it’s that he really can’t just afford to coast in the early rounds and think he’s just going to turn it on later to win. That said, in a matchup like this it could be hard for Lomachenko to get off to a fast start.
What I really see happening is Nakatani taking a fair amount of early rounds before Lomachenko starts to apply more pressure and footwork to get his combination punches off. I think he’ll have mixed success with this approach but I just think, knowing how boxing can be, that it’ll be hard for Nakatani to win a decision over Lomachenko in Las Vegas. What I expect is a close fight that Lomachenko takes on the cards with a fair amount of debate on how fair the scoring was. Lomachenko UD-12
Patrick L. Stumberg (39-10-2)
A lot has been made of Masayoshi Nakatani’s freakish height and reach, but it’s worth remembering that he’s not all that good at using them; he throws his right hand like he’s trying to kill someone five feet behind his opponent, dragging his upright head into countering range in the process, and is overly willing to mix it up inside against shorter fighters. A technician of Lomachenko’s caliber is more than capable of exploiting the myriad defensive holes he leaves behind, so as long as “Hi-Tech” is actually willing and able to throw punches this time, Nakatani’s in for a bruising. He’s a tricky puzzle, but not a particularly deep one.
That said, Nakatani’s tenacity is admirable, and he’s going to do everything in his power to give Lomachenko hell as long as he remains standing. He’s just too vulnerable to disciplined punchers for me to pick him against one of the most skillful fighters of the modern era. Lomachenko batters him as soon as he gets into gear, potentially stopping him late. Lomachenko UD-12