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In the gap of time between former three-division champion Vasiliy Lomachenko's last fight in June and his return on Saturday in New York, the state of the lightweight division has changed dramatically.  

Teofimo Lopez Jr., who shocked Lomachenko by decision in 2020, faced a major upset loss of his own in November to mandatory challenger and new unified king George Kambosos Jr. One week later, pay-per-view star Gervonta Davis was forced to overcome injury and a determined late replacement in Isaac Cruz to edge a close decision while WBC champion Devon Haney scored his biggest win to date against Joseph Diaz Jr.  

Kambosos, a network free agent, and Haney are now in talks for an undisputed championship bout in Australia. Unbeaten Ryan Garcia has also used the new developments to call out a number of big-name fighters, including Davis, on social media.  

Suddenly, the star-studded lightweight division looks like an open market with the biggest names showing huge interest in facing one another, regardless of promotion. That makes Lomachenko, 33, a very interesting dance partner as a pound-for-pound ranked former champion.

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Lomachenko (15-2, 11 KOs) will first need to pass a very dangerous test this weekend when he faces former IBF champion Richard Commey (30-3, 27 KOs) inside Madison Square Garden and the native of Ghana let it be known at Thursday's final press conference that he isn't backing down.  

"I have the whole of my country behind me and all of the little children back home who want to get to where I am. I'm coming; I know it's not an easy fight but I'm coming," Commey said. "I'm coming. With all my heart, my God and my team, I am coming. I am coming to put on a good show." 

Lomachenko described MSG, aptly nicknamed "The World's Most Famous Arena" as a "special place" for him over his brief but exceptional pro career. The former two-time Olympic gold medalist from Ukraine has fought at the sacred venue four times, including some of his most important wins over Roman Martinez, Guillermo Rigondeaux, Jorge Linares and Jose Pedraza. 

"It's an honor for me [to fight] in the mecca of boxing," Lomachenko said. "I respect it and I can't wait until Saturday night." 

The arena was also the site of Commey's biggest pro loss in 2019 when he was knocked out by an upstart Lopez in the second round. The 34-year-old bounced back in a big way in February when he stopped Jackson Marinez and looks to continue his growth from the Lopez defeat.  

"I think losing in boxing is part of boxing," Commey said. "Regardless of how you lost, it's all about coming back. Whatever happened in the Teofimo fight, it is what it is and I take it as a man. I came back very strong and there's a reason why Loma chose me and why I'm sitting right here." 

Despite Lomachenko being a large betting favorite, he still expects a tough fight.  

"Richard is a tough opponent. I think we will give a very interesting fight for fans," Lomachenko said. "He has big power and reach. He has experience and has a big heart."

Elsewhere on the card, top American heavyweight prospect Jared "Big Baby" Anderson is back in the co-main event when he takes on Oleksandr Teslenko. Anderson, 22, has just 10 pro fights under his belt to this point, but all 10 of those have ended in a knockout. Teslenko carries an impressive record at 17-1 with 13 KOs, but he has yet to step up in competition himself. His lone pro defeat came in September 2019 when he was stopped by Shawndell Terell Winters.

Below is the complete fight card and latest odds from Caesars Sportsbook before we get to a prediction and pick for the main event.

Fight card, odds

Odds via Caesars Sportsbook

  • Vasiliy Lomachenko -800 vs. Richard Commey +550, lightweights
  • Jared Anderson -2200 vs. Oleksandr Teslenko +1100, heavyweights
  • Keyshawn Davis -2000 vs. Jose Zaragoza +1000, lightweights
  • Nico Ali Walsh -1500 vs. Reyes Sanchez +800, middleweights

Viewing information

  • Date: Dec. 11 | Location: Madison Square Garden -- New York
  • Start time: 9 p.m. ET
  • How to watch: ESPN | Stream: fuboTV (try for free)

Prediction 

For as aggressive and dangerous as Commey is, his straight-ahead style remains perfect for the type of wizardry and footwork that Lomachenko relies on. One day, Lomachenko's trademark speed and reaction time will slow, but we don't appear to be there just yet. 

Yes, Lomacheko started too late in his title loss to Lopez, but he came on big in the second half and very much looked to be the same elite talent when stopped Masayoshi Nakatani in June. Expect Lomachenko to use Commey's aggressiveness against him and pick him apart after cautiously navigating the early storm.  

Pick: Lomachenko via UD12