The 3 wins for Nakatani last year took him from “Ioka prospect” to “world ranked contender” it was as good a break through year as the Osaka native could have wished for. Whilst he hasn't stopped an opponent in his 3 bouts he had earned 36 rounds of valuable experience, matured as a fighter and developed his skills massively.
When we first saw Nakatani he looked like a tall, rangy Lightweight who gave up his height to beat people up. Despite being almost 6' he was a fighter who loved tagging the body and completely destroyed Shuhei Tsuchiya with body shots alone. Since then he has developed his skills become a more pure boxer-puncher who now uses his reach and uses his height to fight on the outside where he can establish his jab and move around the ring. In many his style has helped set the groundwork for other Ioka fighters such as Sho Ishida and Takeru Kamikubo who fight in a similar manner to Nakatani, using their height and speed.
Although not yet a big name in regards to where he stands at the Ioka gym we suspect Nakatani will have the ability to become a world champion and follow in the footsteps of Kazuto Ioka and Ryo Miyazaki. It may not be soon but his intentions are to reach that level. His next to world title fights will be his 3rd defence of the OPBF title and will see him battle against the little known Accel Sumiyoshi (4-3-1, 1) on April 5th
Sumiyoshi isn't a big name fighter, his record isn't flawless and he isn't a sensational Lightweight. He is however a fighter who has been matched incredibly hard since his debut back in 2012. To date his opponents have had a combined record of 95-43-9 and it's little wonder he has lost a few bouts considering he has gone up against fighters like Kento Matsushita, a former multi-time Japanese and former OPBF title challenger, Yuhei Suzuki, a 2-time Japanese title challenger, and Kota Tokunaga, who battles for the Japanese title later this month.
Footage of Sumiyoshi is certainly not easy to come by but ringside reports of his bout with Leonardo Doronio, who he fought to a draw last December, suggest the bout was a slugfest with both showing fantastic work rate. Also in his past he has gone up against tall fighters, notably Kota Tokunaga who managed to take a split decision win over Sumiyoshi last year. That experience will help Sumiyoshi however we have Tokunaga being a level, if not two, below Nakatani.
Coming into this fight the pressure is on the champion not to just win but to shine and that's what we're expecting with Nakatani easing himself into the fight behind his jab before making a statement later in the fight with a stoppage. If he can do that then we expect to see him move on to a world ranked foe later in the year and then work his way towards a world title fight in either late 2015 or early 2016.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)