Vasiliy "Loma" Lomachenko returned in a big way. The former pound-for-pound king and three-weight world champion knocked out Masayoshi Nakatani in the ninth round of a lightweight main event Saturday at The Theater at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas.
Lomachenko (15-2, 11 KOs) faced a hint of adversity when a headbutt opened up a cut in the opening round, but that would be the extent of his troubles. It was one-way traffic throughout as Nakatani (19-2, 13 KOs) showed an incredibly sturdy chin but little in the way of offense.
In the fifth round, Lomachenko floored Nakatani with a left-right combination and proceeded to lay a savage beating on his Japanese opponent. The end came in the ninth round when Celestino Ruiz called an end to the carnage.
Lomachenko now sets his sights on a rematch with Teofimo Lopez, who bested him last October in Las Vegas.
Lomachenko said, "I'm happy because I won. All the strategies that we developed with my team (worked). I reached all my goals. I won and now I'm back on track.
"Everybody saw how I won this fight, and everybody is waiting for the rematch [with Lopez], so let's make a rematch.
"He has a fight in the future with [George] Kambosos, but how about after, in the beginning of next year? December, January, February, I am waiting."
Top Rank chairman Bob Arum added: "In case there was any doubt, Lomachenko proved he is still one of the very best fighters in the world. He is healthy and ready to fight any of the lightweights."
Tank takes out brave Barrios
In a fight that lived up to its potential, Gervonta Davis and Mario Barrios combined to put on an unforgettable main event in front of a sold-out crowd of 16,570.
After a slow opening four rounds in which Davis landed just 11 punches, the fight produced fireworks beginning in the fifth round.
In the eighth round, "Tank" sent "El Azteca" to the canvas for both the first and second times of his career.
First, Davis connected on a sweeping right hook that sent the former champion to the canvas.
Moments later, a straight left hand by Davis dropped Barrios again. The brave Barrios rose to his feet, surviving Davis' attempts to finish him in the eighth.
Realising that the fight could be close on the scorecards, Floyd Mayweather encouraged Davis in his corner to deliver a knockout. In round 11, a rejuvenated Davis dropped Barrios for a third time in the fight, this time with a left uppercut to the body.
The bloodied Barrios rose again, only to be greeted with another barrage of punches from Davis. Referee Thomas Taylor stepped in to stop the fight at 2:13 of the eleventh round.
"I knew for sure if I catch him, I'm crackin," Davis told SHOWTIME's Jim Gray. "So I caught him, and it showed. My coach was telling me to go to a jab style but I'm a southpaw so they know I'm going to that jab side.
"So I would try and bait him in. I faked like I was going left, and I threw my right. And my hook over top, and that's where I caught him."
Taylor set for Crawford next year
The Hall of Fame promoter revealed he expects Crawford to take on fellow Top Rank star Josh Taylor in 2022.
Taylor followed in the footsteps of Crawford in May by becoming undisputed champion at 140lbs and admitted he only wants to face the best.
"I'd like to become a two-weight world champion. I would love to move up to welterweight and challenge for a world title up there and really be touted as one of the greatest fighters to ever do it from these shores," Taylor said at Tuesday's press conference in London.
"I think I can win that fight with Terence Crawford as well. But I'm not really in a rush. The ball's in my court now and I will fight when I'm ready to fight.
"I believe in my own ability. I have been doubted my whole career. It's always, 'he's a good fighter but…', there is always a 'but' at the end of it. It's an easy fight to happen [Crawford] because he's under Top Rank, I'm under Top Rank, so it's all in-house," Taylor added.
"That's a great fight," Arum told FightHype on a fight between Crawford and Taylor. "I hope it'll happen but not until next year because Taylor and Ramirez both had to sign a document that the winner will have to fight Jack Catterall of the next fight in the UK. Taylor will do that in November.
"That means we'd talk about a Taylor-Crawford fight, which is a great, great fight, and Taylor wants that fight, and I'm sure Terence would want the fight, that won't be until next year."
On Crawford and Spence, Arum added, "Forget the Spence thing. Spence knows he can't beat Crawford, and he's going to go up in weight after the Pacquiao fight, so forget that."