- MMA columnist for ESPN.com
- Analyst for “MMA Live”
- Covered MMA for Las Vegas Sun
- Previously covered University of Michigan for ESPN.com and AnnArbor.com
- Also covered Notre Dame for Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
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 — DeMichael Harris vs. Jonatan Hernan Godoy, four rounds, lightweights
In Mexico: Fight in progress — Gabriel Valenzuela vs. Juan Ocura, eight rounds, junior welterweights
Still to come:
In Las Vegas (ESPN+)
Vasiliy Lomachenko vs. Masayoshi Nakatani, 12 rounds, lightweights
Rob Brant vs. Janibek Alimkhanuly, 10 rounds, middleweights
Giovani Santillan vs. Cecil McCalla, eight or 10 rounds, welterweights
Robert Rodriguez vs. Luis Fernando Saavedra, six rounds, bantamweights
Floyd Diaz vs. Jaime Jasso, four rounds, bantamweights
Guido Vianello vs. Marlon Williams, four rounds, heavyweights
Subaru Murata vs. Keven Monroy, four rounds, junior featherweights
In Atlanta (Showtime PPV)
Title fight: Mario Barrios vs. Gervonta Davis, 12 rounds, for Barrios’ WBA “regular” junior welterweight title
Erickson Lubin vs. Jeison Rosario, 12 rounds, WBC junior middleweight title eliminator
Carlos Adames vs. Alexis Salazar, 10 rounds, junior middleweights
Batyr Akhmedov vs. Algenis Mendez, 12 rounds, WBA junior welterweight title eliminator
Leduan Barthelemy vs. Viktor Slavinskyi, 10 rounds, junior lightweights
Andres Gutierrez vs. Angel Hernandez, eight rounds, junior welterweights
Dalton Bodie vs. Trever Bradshaw, four rounds, super middleweights
Stacey Selby vs. William Smith, four rounds, junior welterweights
In Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico (DAZN)
Title fight: Julio Cesar Martinez vs. Joel Cordova, 12 rounds, for Martinez’s WBC flyweight title
Title fight: Daniel Matellon vs. Jose Argumedo, 12 rounds, for Matellon’s WBA interim junior flyweight title
Christian Alan Gomez Duran vs. Jorge Perez Sanchez, 10 rounds, welterweights
Diego Pacheco vs. Jesus Moroyoqui Palomares, eight rounds, super middleweights
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