In December we are going to be sharing our "20 for 20", a list of 20 fighters to keep an eye on for the new year. Ahead of that we will be looking at a number of fighters who just missed out on that list.
These are the fighters who perhaps won't be ready for a world title by the end of next year, but we feel will make a mark in the year, and go on to do big things in the following year or two. Typically they are the prospects who perhaps need a little more time to develop, or who are still a bit too young for the big fights, or maybe just don't seem like they are quite there yet. These are our "Honourable mentions - 20 for 20" fighters and these will be posted daily until the start of December!
Mikito Nakano (4-0, 4)
The Featherweight division in Japan is red hot right now, with the likes of Japanese champion Ryo Sagawa, WBO Asia Pacific champion Musashi Mori, the wonderfully skilled Reiya Abe, and the very highly regarded Hinata Maruta all at the top of the table. This means that it will be hard for a novice to break into the title mix. That however should world well for a fighter who doesn't need to be rushed into a position they might not be ready for by the end of the year. One such fighter is Mikito Nakano, who looks like he could be a massive star in the future, but doesn't need to be fast tracked, and is instead better served getting to serve something of an apprenticeship in the professional ranks before fighting for titles, despite being an excellent amateur, and running up a 68-9 (48) record in the unpaid ranks. The 24 year old southpaw is one of the brightest talents at the Teiken gym and has already been hugely impressive with quick wins against the likes of Arvin Yurong and KJ Natuplag. If the division was lacking domestically it would be hard to hold Nakano back, but given the talent there he can spend 2020 developing his skills then look to make a mark in 2021, with another few fights under his belt.
Expectations for 2020?
We expect to see Nakano continue to impress. He not only has the biggest promotional team in Japan behind him, but also a very good amateur career, a smart brain, dynamite power, and a real fluidity to his boxing. He will know there is no need to rush and take risks, but by the end of 2020 there will be no reason for him not to be in the title hunt and potentially even challenging for a Japanese title at the 2021 Champion Carnival.
The issue for Nakano, more than anything, will be finding suitable competition. He will need to face domestically and regionally ranked fighters sooner rather than late and for 2020 we expect to see him sharing the ring with at least one fighter ranked in the top 10 by the OPBF. We'd love to see someone really testing him, and with his first 4 bouts going just 8 rounds combined we expect to see him in with a tough foe capable of going rounds with the the youngster. Fingers crossed he gets to show he has the stamina to go with his power and skills in 2020.
For fans who haven't seen Nakano in action, we've included his third bout below, whee he faces Arvin Yurong.
When we have some free time we're hoping to add a series of fun articles to the site. Hopefully these will be enjoyable little short features