Back in August we reported that on October 10th Japan's Shuichiro Yoshino (10-0, 8) [吉野 修一郎] would face Filipino Harmonito Dela Torre (20-2, 12) for the OPBF interim Lightweight title. Now however we have seen two changes to that.
Yesterday it was revealed that Masayoshi Nakatani (18-1, 12) [中谷正義] had vacated the OPBF Lightweight title, meaning the Yoshino Vs Dela Torre bout would be for the full OPBF title and not the interim belt. Today saw further news with sources informing us that the bout will also have the WBO Asia Pacific title on the line, allowing the winner to unify the two major regional crowns.
The WBO Asia Pacific title has previously been held by Kye MacKenzie, who won the belt last October, and prior to that Nihito Arakawa had held it. Sadly neither man defended it with much regularity, however with Yoshino and Dela Torre battling to unify the belts we suspect that both regional titles will be more active than they have been in recent years.
As previously reported that is another title bout set for the October 10th card, with Japanese Light Flyweight champion Kenichi Horikawa (40-15-1, 13) [堀川 謙一] defending his title against Yuto Takahashi (10-4, 5) [高橋悠斗]
Back in July Masayoshi Nakatani (18-1, 12) [中谷正義] made his US debut, and lot in a very competitive bout with the highly regarded Teofimo Lopez in an IBF world title eliminator. Today it's been reported that Nakatani has now vacated the OPBF Lightweight title, after 11 defenses.
It's unclear why Nakatani has made his decision, though it seems likely that he's either moving up in weight, and he is a very big Lightweight, or whether he's going to pursue other bouts out side the Oriental scene, such as more fringe world level bouts.
Given Nakatani's decision it's now assumed that the October 10th bout between Shuichiro Yoshino (10-0, 8) [吉野 修一郎] and Harmonito Dela Torre (20-2, 12) will not be for the OPBF interim title, as previously reported, but instead for the full version of the title that Nakatani held previously.
We'll be really interested in seeing where Nakatani goes next, as he options out there, and his performance against Lopez showed the world he is a really good fighter. However his career has been a frustrating one at times and we wouldn't be surprised to see his losing the momentum from the Lopez bout before facing an other opponent of note.
On Friday night Japan's Masayoshi Nakatani (18-1, 12) [中谷正義] made his US debut, and suffered a decision loss to the much hyped Teofimo Lopez (14-0, 11). The bout, which seemed very close, was scored as a near shut out in favour of Lopez. It seemed that, looking back, Nakatani would have needed a knockout to have managed to squeak a draw.
Interestingly the Japanese fighter opened up about his experienced in the US, and they weren't the most positive of views.
The lanky Japanese fighter took to social media to share his experiences and they were full of issues that he had problems with.
He opened by mentioning issues with the hotel, explaining that he actually stayed in two hotels during his time in the US, staying in one for the first day then another for the rest of his pre-fight stay. He also only short notification that this would be the case, explaining that this didn't help with losing weight.
There was also issues with relaxing ahead off the bout, and the way he was approached by the media at random times. It seems like this was more due to the profile of the bout than anything to do, explicitly, with the US, but the bout certainly had a lot more attention than any of his others, and this would have caused issues with getting time to relax.
The weighing time and fight time, apparently, weren't decided until the day before. Whilst this seems a bit of a strange one, it does seemingly make things difficult for a fighter to be fully prepared if they don't get much notice to be ready. In Japan things are a bit different and often times are known well in advance.
One of the biggest issues seemed to be the medical he had to under-go. He had gotten a medical check in Japan before leaving for the US, and apparently their had been no issue with these checks until 3 days before the fight, forcing him through another battery of medical tests, and giving him eye drops, which caused some issues with his light sensitivity afterwards. The medical check in the US apparently took place on the same day as the weigh in, albeit not at the same time or location, causing further issues with making weight, and being able to relax before the fight.
It's worth noting that ESPN did make a comment about how both fighters seemed to struggle at the weigh in, and given the issues that Nakatani noted on his blog it's understandable that fighters weren't given the right treatment to be 100%their best.
As for the action in the ring Nakatani stated that the he understood the loss, but not the wide scores, and advised fellow Japanese fighters that it's necessary to go for the KO. He also spoke about the way referees in the US break up clinches quicker than they do in Japan, where fighters are more often allowed to work in the clinch.
Further advise included being with someone who had fought in the US, being with someone some speaks English and can convey what the fighter means when he's speaking to the press, as if suggesting some of his comments weren't translated incredibly accurately. This is something that has been known about for a while, and famously there was no interpreter for Nobuhiro Ishida when he shocked James Kirkland. There is clearly a reason for a Japanese fighter, looking to land bouts in the US, to get a basic grasp of English, though of course learning a new language is no easy task.
For those wanting to read Nakatani's full blog entry - that's available here 海外試合で勝つ為に！
Just moments ago we saw Japan's Masayoshi Nakatani (18-1, 12) [中谷正義] suffer his first professional defeat, though defy all the pre-fight predictions and give the self assured Teofimo Lopez (14-0, 11) and incredible close and competitive 12 round fight. A fight the judges simply, did not watch.
The pre-fight view was that this was an horrific mismatch, with Lopez expected to blow away Nakatani in the early rounds. Nakatani on the other hand had travelled over as someone completely unknown outside of Asia, and wasn't seen as someone who had much of a chance against the fear rising star of the US.
Despite the expectations it was Nakatani who got off to a great start, showing now respect to Lopez's reputation as a feared and dangerous fighter. Instead Nakatani fought to his strengths, using his reach, his jab and his height to pepper Lopez at range, landing jabs to head and body and right hands over the top. It made Lopez, the, man who was once calling out Vasyl Lomachenko, look like a rookie.
After the first round Lopez began to settle, and find pockets of success, but all too often they were only pockets and moments as he looked to fight at a pot shotter against a man who was able to neutralise him with size and a jab.
As the fight went on the cleaner, harder, punchers seemed to mostly come from Lopez, especially in round 4, but Nakatani was the consistent fighter, out landing Lopez, and making the Honduran-American look wild and sloppy, whilst also showing that Lopez's much vaunted power wasn't going to cut it at this level. Even when Lopez landed clean Nakatani barely reacted, firing off his own shots in return.
In the later rounds both fighters began to show signs of tiredness. For Lopez it was the first time he had gone into the 8th round, and by then Nakatani was starting to push him back more often and press the action more himself. The Japanese fighter was getting caught by some counters, but was landing more than his share of shots, and seemed to rock a tiring Lopez at one point, though stood tough and fired back in a fun little back and forth exchange.
Sadly by the time we got into the 12th round both men seemed tired and the round was a bit of a mess of nothingness, despite the fight being pretty close through 11 rounds and the final one being, potentially, a very important one.
After the bell there was a feeling this was close, infact it had been close, with neither man dominating. Nakatani had certainly done a lot better than expected, but had also run Lopez hard. He had landed right hands regularly, neutralised Lopez and had clearly taken rounds from "El Brooklyn". Lopez however had the promoter behind him, he was the money man, the potential star, and the judges knew it. A close fight was always going to go his way.
Amazingly however not one judge saw a close fight, scoring it 119-109, 118-110, twice, giving Lopez the wide win, in a bout that really wasn't clear cut. A win for Lopez isn't a bad decision, by any means, but those scores, all of them, are simply wretched.
After the fight Lopez spoke about not liking the height and turning off, but the reality is that he had over-looked Nakatani and been given a scare. The score cards may not have reflected that scare, but it was a big scare for Lopez.
Next for Lopez will be IBF champion Richard Commey, and in a way it feels, maybe, like the judges didn't want to do anything to scupper that bout, as they certainly weren't paying attention to this one.
In just a few hours time we'll see unbeaten fighters collide in an IBF Lightweight world title eliminator, as Masayoshi Nakatani (18-0, 12) [中谷正義] takes on Teofimo Lopez (13-0, 11). For both men it's a huge opportunity to take a huge step towards a world title fight, and a great main event of a Top Rank card.
Despite both men being unbeaten the bout is widely seen as a mismatch and is regarded as the next hurdle for Lopez to blow aay before he gets a much anticipated world title shot. That view is reflected big time in the betting odds, with the American-Honduran being a clear betting favourite. Some places in the UK have Lopez at 1/20 or even 1/33, though the best out there is 1/12 on the heavy handed and really self assured Lopez to win.
Nakatani, fighting in his first bout outside of Japan is widely available at 10/1 to win, which would be a sizable upset, though is best priced at an even larger 12/1 with one UK high street bookmakers. On the other hand the draw is available at 33/1.
Lopez isn't just expected to win, but is expected to do so inside the distance. He has been priced at 2/7 to win by stoppage, whilst he's a comparatively huge 7/2 to take home the decision. Nakatani is 12/1 to score the early win and 16/1 to win on points.
Give the odds on a Lopez stoppage it's little surprise the bout is only 1/5 to not go the 12 scheduled rounds, and is 10/3 to reach the final bell.
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