By - George Delis (@Delisketo )
Masayoshi Nakatani (16-0), along with Nihito Arakawa (31-6) and Kazuhiro Nishitani (19-4), is currently one of Japan’s top Lightweights.
While studying at the Kindai University, he participated in 60 amateur bouts. Turned pro on June of 2011, at the age of 21, winning 6 fights in a row (5 KOs), including a victory over future Japanese champion Shuhei Tsuchiya (14-1*).
Nakatani, on January of 2014, went face to face with former Japanese and the then reigning OPBF champion Yoshitaka Kato (26-4*) for the OPBF belt. Despite being the less experienced of the two, he took the champion to his limit for 12 rounds, earning the majority decision, thus the championship and the East Japan Boxing Association Monthly MVP Award.
Nakatani, since then, has defended his title 9 times, including wins over Ricky Sismundo (26-7*), Futoshi Usami (12-1*), Krai Setthaphon (23-1*), Ryan Sermona (20-8*), Amphol Suriyo (22-2*). A bonafide knock artist, having finished 10 out of his 16 bouts, most within the first five rounds, he has placed himself at the top of the division, as he is ranked #7 by the WBC, #13 by the WBO and #5 by the IBF.
His next opponent is Izuki Tomioka (5-0) an up comer, who’s building his name in the regional scene, having scored wins over Yuichiro Kasuya (9-1*) as well as Taiju Shiratori (8-2*) and has claimed the Japanese Youth Lightweight title.
Despite the fact that Nakatani is the clear favorite in this outing, on July 29th, we can’t dismiss the young lion, who in less than 2 years has made quite an impact in the Japanese scene (ranked #15).
It will be interesting to see how both these athletes will match each other. Nakatani needs just a few more significant victories before he can challenge for a world title, so it’s imperative he succeeds here, as a loss to a rookie will not look that good on his record.
*Fighter’s record prior to the fight.
One of two OPBF title fights taking place this coming Saturday will be at Lightweight as long reigning champion Masayoshi Nakatani (15-0, 9) makes his 9th defence of the title, for the 9th time, against Thai puncher Pharanpetch Tor Buamas (22-2, 18).
The champion won the title way back in January 2014 when he out pointed Yoshitaka Kato for the title. At that point it seemed like Nakatani was on the fast line to the top, something that seemed to be backed up when he made his first defense against Ricky Sismundo. Sadly however he has since floundered, taking on rather limited challenger ans not really being tested as his team has, in some ways, failed him as a fighter. Rather than continuing to test him Nakatani's team have had him defending his title against the likes of Kazuya Murata, Tosho Makoto Aoki and Ryan Sermona. That level of competition suggests that Ioka can't secure better opponents, Nakatani doesn't want a test or that Ioka aren't convinced that Nakatani can beat better opponents. Knowing what we do about Nakatani it seems like Ioka simply can't afford to get the fighter top opponents, or push him towards a world title fight.
In the ring Nakatani is an smart boxer-puncher. He's huge for a Lightweight, standing at close to 6', and uses his long arms to keep opponents at range, box on the outside. On the inside he has surprisingly ability, and his first big win show cased that as he broke down Shuhei Tsuchiya with body shots way back in 2013. When he's at his best he's fighting at range, making the most of his jab and keeping opponents at a safe range range, picking away with his activity and then lowering the boom when he's comfortable. We've seen him prove his ability to go 12 rounds, doing so 5 times, and show that he's dangerous through out bouts.
The Thai challenger has an impressive looking record, but like many Thai's it's a very padded one and one that has been exposed several times already. He debuted back in May 2011 and raced out to a 17-0 (13) record with the best win during that run being a close and competitive decision over the under-rated Rey Laspinas. There was some potential there, but it seemed like his handlers were unsure really how much potential there was. In 2016 we finally saw the Thai step up, and suffer a wide loss Billy Dib. A loss to a prime Dib wouldn't have been too bad, but Dib from 2016 had slipped and been stopped by Takashi Miura in 2015 and Evgeny Gradovich in 2013, and seemed to be clearly on the slide, so a loss to Dib was a concern. Just a few months later Pharanpetch suffered 6th round TKO loss to Brandon Ogilvie, in what was his only other bout of note.
In 2017 the Thai began to rebuild, claiming 4 very low level wins, which has helped him earn this title, though also suggest he really is a bit of a bully, padding his record and not really developing the skills needed to compete at title level. the footage of him he looks like a pretty basic come forward fighter, with a high guard, basic foot work and some nice combinations. On paper he has power, but it is hard to know how genuine that power is, given the level of competition.
We believe the basic work of the Thai will be toyed with by Nakatani who will pick, poke and eventually stop the challenger, and hopefully move on to bigger and better fights now, rather than continue to treat water at this level.
The Lightweight division in Asia is relatively frustrating at the moment, despite a lot of depth just a few pounds lighter at Super Featherweight. That frustration has been highlighted in some ways by the long OPBF title reign of Ioka gym's Masayoshi Nakatani (14-0, 8), who won the title back in January 2014 and has racked up 7 defenses already. Despite making so many defenses he hasn't really been able to prove himself as a credible future world title challenger and his last few defenses have felt like he's a fighter who's been going through the motions.
This coming Sunday we see Nakatani return to the ring for his next defense, as he takes on 29 year old Filipino challenger Ryan Sermona (20-8-1, 13), another under-whelming foe for Nakatani.
The champion won the title by defeating Yoshitaka Kato, and made his first defense against Ricky Sismundo. Two solid wins, which actually followed a stoppage victory against Shuhei Tsuchiya, and at the time it looked like Nakatani was going to be fast tracked to a world title fight. In those bouts he good speed, power and ring IQ, to keep opponents at range and box to his strengths. Since then however he beaten lesser quality foes like Kazuya Murata, Allan Tanada and Tosho Makoto Aoki.
At his best, and when he's really on it, Nakatani looks like someone who can step up to fight pretty well at world level. He's heavy handed, moves well, has solid stamina, fights to his strengths and is huge for a Light, standing at just shy of 6'. Unfortunately if Ioka can't break the bank to get him a major fight there is a real risk that Nakatani will stagnate, if not regress, and fail to reach the heights once expected of him.
Sadly Sermona won't be expected to provide any sort of a test for Nakatani. The Filipino has been a professional since 2008 and has had very mixed success. His best wins to date have been over Roberto Gonzalez, Balweg Bangoyan, Matt Gartlett and Taek Min Kim. Sadly those wins have been over-shadowed by losses to the likes of Masayuki Ito, Corey McConnell, Viorel Simion and Jose Ocampo, among others. The mixed results have come with 4 stoppage defeats and given how hard Nakatani hits, it's hard to see anything but another stoppage loss for the Filipino here.
Japanese Lightweights rarely make much noise outside of the Orient, however the last few years we have seen Ioka gym's Masayoshi Nakatani (13-0, 8) slowly moving up the world rankings, and moving towards a world title fight. Nakatani, the OPBF champion, will be back in the ring this coming Sunday to make the 7th defense of his Oreintal crown, and will be up against Thailand's Kaewfah Tor Buamas (23-1, 16). On paper the bout looks like a good defense for the champion, but the reality is that this should be little more than a stay busy fight for the talented Nakatani.
Stood at just under 6' and with a huge wingspan Nakatani is a relative giant at Lightweight. He knows how to use his size well to fight from the outside, keeping good fighters at range with his jab and movement. When forced to fight on the inside Nakatani has proven capable of doing that, and throws brilliant uppercuts for such a rangy fighter. Although not the fastest, or the most destructive, he isn't slow by any means, and he certain earns the respect of his opponents.
On the subject of Nakatani's opponents he has a mix of good wins and less than great wins. He has really notable victories over Shuhei Tsuchiya, Yoshitaka Kato and Ricky Sismundo, with all of those wins coming in the space of 10 months. Sadly the last 5 wins on Nakatani's record all appear to have been lesser foes than 3 big wins he has. It's a shame that he never really built on the good wins, but he has been gaining valuable experience with 2 full twelve rounds, bringing his total to 4, and experience against fighters of different styles and sizes.
World ranked already it does seem like Nakatani is wanting to tip-toe himself towards a world title fight. Whilst that makes sense, given that competition in the region won't prepare him for the likes of Jorge Linares, Mikey Garcia or Robert Easter, one of the very few fighters in the division who match Nakatani for size, it's not exciting way to see his team develop him or his skills. He's a good fighter, he can fight at world level in the future, but his match making in recent times has been poor.
That poor match making continues here against a Thai with a nice looking record, but the reality is that Kaewfah is a very poor fighter.
The Thai debuted back in 2009 and went 19-0 (13) with out facing a fighter with a winning record. Whilst that's not always an issue with Thai's, it does set alarm bells ringing. His first win over a fighter with a winning record came in 2015, and saw him take a narrow decision over 37 year old Australian based journeyman Andrew Wallace, after failing to make weight. Whatever alarm bells were ringing at 19-0 were now going crazy. Since then he has scored 3 low key wins and suffered a 7th round TKO loss to Czar Amonsot, the only fighter of real note that he has faced.
From the footage of Kaewfah there is little to be impressed by. He's a basic fighter who is one paced, looks awkward fighting off the back foot and although there is some nice basic movement there is nothing outstanding about him. In all honesty against a fighter as talented and as natural as Nakatani it's hard to see how Kaewfah will have any success at all.
The reality is that this could well looking like a public sparring session with Nakatani going through a few things, before turning the screw and eventually forcing a stoppage, as and when he pleases. It's a shame that such a talented fighter is wasting time against the likes of Kaewfah or Kazuya Murata. It's time Ioka looked at moving Nakatani towards a bigger fight, and stopped wasting everyone's time with this type of mismatch.
Japanese, and even Filipino fighters, rarely make a mark above Super Featherweight with only a handful of world champions above 130lbs between the two countries, who are both power houses of the lower weight classes. This coming Friday however we'll see two notable names trading blows for the OPBF Lightweight title, one of those names is a world ranked fighter looking to move towards a world title bout whilst the other is looking to gate crash the world rankings and build some international success several years after his career best win.
The fighters in question are current OPBF Lightweight champion Masayoshi Nakatani (12-0, 7), who is looking for his 6th defense of the title, and former OPBF Super Featherweight champion Allan Tanada (14-5-3, 6), who is looking to become a 2-weight OPBF champion and get his career back on track after 3 losses in his last 4 bouts.
Of the two men it's certainly Nakatani with the more promise and more potential. The Ioka gym fighter is 27 years old and despite only having a 12 fight professional career he already holds notable wins over the likes of Shuhei Tsuchiya, Yoshitaka Kato and Ricky Sismundo, 3 really good wins. Sadly however since beating Sismundo we've seen Nakatani's career has stagnate with 4 domestic level bouts dressed by as OPBF title bouts.
In the ring Nakatani is a freakish Lightweight, stood just shy of 6” and with freakishly long arms. Those dimensions of Nakatani make him a nightmare to outbox, and he is an exceptional boxer at range, using his size brilliantly well. As well as fighting at range Nakatani can also fight on the inside, and his win against Tsuchiya saw him using body uppercuts with remarkable success.
Not only is Nakatani really promising but he's also spent a lot of time in the gym with world class fighters, like Kazuto Ioka and Sho Ishida, developing skills that many 12 fight professionals won't have.
Tanada is younger than Nakatani but some have written him off as damaged goods. At his best he was a handful and he holds notable wins over Richard Pumicpic, Jose Ocampo and most importantly Rikiya Fukuhara, who he beat in 3 rounds for the OPBF Super Featherweight title. Unfortunately since beating Fukuhara back in September 2010 he has gone 4-5-3 (1) suffering losses to Masao Nakamura, Gamalier Rodriguez, Sonny Katiandagho, Soslan Tedeev and former Nakatani foe Accel Sumiyoshi. He's also unfortunately fighting in weight classes that sees him as the smaller fighter, and he'll be a very diminutive fighter against Nakatani.
In the ring Tanada is a fighter who has more sting on his shots than his record suggests, he's also proven to be tough with only a single stoppage against his name. He's a smart puncher, with good timing, but unfortunately he's a fighter who is fighting well outside of his best weight classes, he's a fighter who is travelling for fights and at times can be found to be a bit lazy. If he puts his stuff together he could really trouble Nakatani, but the reality is that he'll never quite into the fight, he'll not put things together and will instead be found wanting at the end of Nakatani's jab.
Whilst we know Tanada is better than his record suggests we also think he's a fight who peaked at a young age and is now heading downwards, and quickly, picking up paydays on the way down. This is likely to be a payday, but a painful one with Nakatani being too big, too heavy handed and simply too good for anyone who isn't at the top of their game. With that in mind we see Nakatani easily retaining his title, and probably stopping Tanada in the later rounds, with a steady stream of clean blows from the under-rated champion. If he wins, as expected, we suspect he'll look to move through the world rankings in 2017 and build towards a world title fight towards the end of the year.
On April 17th Japanese fans will get a real treat in Osaka with 4 title fights, one of which is an OPBF Lightweight title bout between unbeaten champion Masayoshi Nakatani (11-0, 6) [中谷 正義] and the heavy handed, but limited, Tosho Makoto Aoki (20-13-2, 17) [闘将 青木 誠]. On paper it's the “most significant” of the title bouts, with the OPBF title ranking above the Japanese and WBC Youth titles, but in reality it should be little more than a mismatch.
At 26 years old Nakatani is a man coming into his prime and at close to 6 foot he's a tall, rangy and clever boxer puncher who has matured well under the guidance of the Ioka gym. He's been a professional for around 5 years and actually won this OPBF title more than 2 years ago, with this being his 5th defense of the title.
For many Nakatani's first win of note came back in July 2013, when he stopped Shuhei Tsuchiya. Since then he has added the notable scalps of Yoshitaka Kato and Ricky Sismundo to his record whilst showing improvement in his boxing, stamina and ring IQ. That's not to say he's flawless, but he's becoming a very hard fighter to beat, and has scarcely lost a round since winning the OPBF title.
At range Nakatani is a nightmare, he's taller and longer than almost anyone else in the division and although not a huge puncher he has very respectable power which will keep any opponent honest, with even his jab being a stinging shot.
Whilst the champion is a fighter about to hit his prime the challenger is a veteran at 36 and is a man who knows that this bout will potentially be his last, though it's fair to say he has had a relatively remarkable career which has seemingly gotten better as he's aged. In fact back in 2011 it seemed Aoki's career was done, following a 2nd round TKO loss to Ryo Nakajima, a loss that saw Aoki's record fall to 13-12-2 (10). Since then however he has gone 8-1 (7), claimed several regional titles and genuinely managed to make a name for himself.
Whilst Aoki was a good run he did actually lose last time out, suffering a first round loss to Thailand's Chaiyong Sithsaithong, who was subsequently schooled by novice Shuichiro Yoshino. Sadly that loss was probably the result that sums up his chances against Nakatani. There is a chance that the heavy handed power of Aoki could catch Nakatani, but the reality is that the champion should be too smart, too good, too powerful, too quick, too big, too long and too young.
Although Aoki does have power, he's a crude puncher and we suspect Nakatani will pick him apart, before forcing a stoppage, likely in the middle rounds. Hopefully a win for the youngster will be followed by a serious test later in the year, perhaps against Daud Yordan for example, however should we see an upset it really would shake up the Lightweight scene in Asia
The Lightweight division is currently regarded as one of the weakest division's in the sport with some people wondering where the next divisional star is hiding. Whilst we certainly don't know the answer to that we do have to mentioned that OPBF champion Masayoshi Nakatani (10-0, 5) does appear to be a genuine contender in the making. He's looking to continue his rise at the end of August as he seeks the 4th defense of his title and a continuation of his development. In the opposite corner will be the little known Kazuya Murata (11-4, 5), who will be seeking the biggest win of his career, so far.
In the ring the champion is a lanky, rangy boxer-puncher who showed real power early in his career, stopping 5 of his first 6 foes, but has since shown more boxing ability taking 4 straight wins, including his title win over Yoshitaka Kato and all 3 of his title defenses. Whilst that sounds like his power hasn't carried up he has been matched with some solid opposition, including the aforementioned Kato, the experienced Ricky Sismundo and the tough Futoshi Usami.
As a puncher Nakatani looked really exciting. His dominant display in July 2013 against Shuhei Tsuchiya appeared to be the break out win of a true future contender. Since then however he has reverted to being an outside fighter, boxing and moving. Whilst he has become “less” exciting he has shown genuinely good skills and scarcely dropped more than a round in hist last 3 bouts due to his movement, engine and skillset.
At 26 years old Nakatani is still a work in progress though having trained with the likes of Sho Ishida, Ryo Miyazaki and Kazuto Ioka he has developed very quickly and appears to be a fighter who will compete at world level in the next 18-24 months.
As for Murata little is really available in terms of the challenger though the little bit of footage we have managed to track down made him look like a defensively tight and aggressively minded fighter who will come forward with a busy jab. Although he looks aggressively minded the general view from watching him is that not the busiest fighter. Also, unfortunately, he looks very predictable with a pressure fighters mentality but not quite the ability of real pressure fighter.
Whilst footage of Murata is hard to find there is some details that are available. Firstly at 27 he's in his prime physically and at 5'9” he's a relatively taller fighter for the division however he will be dwarfed in the ring by Nakatanai who will try and keep Murata at range. Also with just 5 (T)KO's in 15 fights it's clear he's not a puncher.
What we also know about the challenger is that he's in the form of his live with 6 straight wins, dating back well over 2 years. That's the longest winning streak of his career by some margin, and includes a win over recent Nakatani foe Futoshi Usami. That is, by far, the best win on his record. Unfortunately that was a struggle whilst Nakatani easily dominated Usami who really struggled to claim more than a round or two against the champion.
Having seen what we have of the two men involved in this one we can only see one result, a wide, and easy, decision win for Nakatani who should be too good, too skilled, too fast and too long for the challenger. Murata could cause some issue due to his physical strength but it's hard to see him really questioning the very talented Ioka gym fighter.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Last year we saw Japanese Lightweight Masayoshi Nakatani (9-0, 5) break through in a big way. He began the year with a win over Yoshitaka Kato to claim the OPBF Lightweight title and later went on to climb into the world rankings whilst defending his belt twice. We won't pretend that Nakatani set the world on fire but he did impress as he easily out pointed Ricky Sismundo in his first defence and then almost shut out Futoshi Usami in his second defense.
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)
Masayoshi Nakatani defends OPBF title against Futoshi Usami on October 28th but can the Ioka prospect retain his belt?
At the beginning of this year the unbeaten Masayoshi Nakatani (8-0, 5) made a statement as he won the OPBF Lightweight title and out pointed the much more experienced Yoshitaka Kato. The performance wasn't a dominating one, in fact it was a serious struggle for Nakatani, though it was impressive considering the youngster was fighting in just his 7th professional contest and was fighting in a title fight for the first time and it was against a world ranked fighter.
Since winning the title Nakatani has defended the belt once, winning a hard fought bout with the tough Filipino Ricky Sismundo. That was Nakatani's second successive 12 round bout and it saw him completing the full distance for the second time.
This coming week will see Nakatani defending his belt for the second time as he takes on fellow Japanese fighter Futoshi Usami (12-1-1, 9) a man whose record indicates has serious power.
If you've never seen Nakatani you've been missing out. He's a lanky, lanky Lightweight who usually uses his reach well and delivers shots with real power to both the head and body of an opponent. He's not the most skilled but does have a nice variety of shots and his body uppercuts particularly stood out in his first break out win, a stoppage victory over Shuhei Tsuchiya. Unfortunately since the win over Tsuchiya, more than a year ago, we've not seen Nakatani record a stoppage and as a result there is the possibility that his power isn't as telling as his record indicates, however both Sismundo and Kato are very tough guys.
As well as his skills, power and size Nakatani also has a strong team behind him at the Ioka gym. This has lead to Nakatani getting a lot of opportunities to spend time in the gym with world class fighters like former 2-weight world champion Kazuto Ioka and former Minimumweight title holder Ryo Miyazaki as well as the very promising Sho Ishida. Although not a proven world class fighter yet Nakatani is going to improve just on the basis of having guys like that in the gym with him helping to push him with their experiences and skills rubbing off on him and he will learn a lot of things other fighters could only dream of.
We've got to admit that when it comes to Usami we don't know much about the challenger despite seeing one or two of his early fights, such as his win over Tetsuya Muraki from back in 2011. What we have seen does make it clear that Usami does have a bit of skill about him, a nice and relatively busy jab and solid defense that he applies good pressure behind. He also appears to have solid and hurtful power in his straight right hand and his left hook though early on in his career he did get over-excited when he had his man hurt and did throw some very wrong shots from out of range.
Usami's opponents so far haven't been the best and they have made it hard to gauge how good he is. His draw, with Masayuki Wakimoto, came 3 years ago however he sole loss came just 2 fights back, back in December 2013, when he was narrowly out pointed by Kazuya Murata in about made above the Lightweight limit. On paper they are bad results but in reality they aren't as bad as they look on paper and will have helped Usami improve despite not winning either of them.
What we suspect to see here, at least early on, is a jab fest between two men who do like to use their jab. Usami will likely be the one coming forward whilst Nakatani will be landing the heavier and sharper blows, and probably the more numerous given his edge in height and reach. As the fight goes on we suspect that Usami will become ragged, chasing Nakatani who will begin landing sharp clean counters, as he did so effectively against Tsuchiya. Those counters will take their toll on the challenger who we suspect will be stopped in the second half of the contest as Nakatani looks to reestablish himself as puncher to be feared.
If he does win, as expected, we'd assume Nakatani will remain at the OPBF level defending his belt for another year. He needs more experience before moving up a level and competing on, or near, the world stage. Given a year and another 3 defenses we suspect he'll be ready for a world ranked foe. For now though this is the sort of bout he needs. On the other hand for Usami a win here would be career changing and would certainly announce him as a man to watch but we tend to feel that his long term potential is much less than that of Nakatani and a win for Usami would likely be a flash in the pan rather than the emergence of a new future world champion.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
This coming week is, lets be honest, all about Kazuto Ioka's attempt to become a 3-weight world champion a he battle IBF Flyweight champion Amnat Ruenroeng of Thailand. With such a big and significant fight however it's easy to forget that there are two other title bouts on the show, one of which includes Ioka's stable-mate Masayoshi Nakatani (7-0, 5).
Nakatani is widely viewed as one of the best prospects at the Ioka gym, run by Kazuto's uncle and former world champion Hiroki Ioka. He has shown his skills, power, speed and development in his last 2 bouts which have seen him upset both Shuhei Tsuchiya (KO3) and Yoshitaka Kato (MD12), with the Kato victory being one which saw Nakatani claiming the OPBF Lightweight title.
The victory over Kato was tough. He was the "away" fighter and he was fighting in his first bout scheduled for more than 8 rounds, in fact his career up to that point had consisted of just 21 combined rounds. Despite the difficult of the bout Nakatani showed the traits that have got those at the Ioka gym so excited about him. He showed his skills, his guts, his toughness and his ability to adapt. It was hard but it was rewarding and didn't just net Nakatani the OBPF title but also developed him as a fighter. He had now proven he could do 12 rounds, he had proven that could take a shot and he had proven that he knew what to do when hurt.
Nakatani will perhaps need to call on those lessons in his first defence as he battles the OPBF #7 ranked Lightweight Mondo Harada (26-7-1, 12).
Harada is a Filipino fighter who is, perhaps, better known by his real name of Ricky Sismundo. Like many foreign fighters in Japan he has been given a change of name for either sponsorship reasons or to try and make him more marketable to a Japanese audience.
The challenger has fought 2 of his last 3 bouts in Japan, winning both of those by stoppage, in fact he has won 4 of his last 5 stoppage indicating that he does hit harder than his record shows. His record is skewed in that respect as his career began when he was just a 19 year old kid and he was put in with some decent Filipino domestic opponents, as a result he scored just 2 stoppages in his first 14 bouts whilst going 11-3.
Despite the less than stellar start to his career the Filipino managed to turn things around excellently and found his punching form over the following few years, despite picking up losses to Daud Cino Yordan, Terdsak Kokietgym, Billy Dib and Dante Jardon adding further to the experience of Sismundo/Harada.
Aged 27 the Filipino challenger will know that this is his biggest chance so far though will also know what he's up against.
Nakatani's perfect record and last 2 big wins should suggest that's talented but the stand out feature about him is his build. He is tall, rangy and lanky. Stood at 5'11" he's a Lightweight monster who loves to use his rangy features to his advantage with crisp body uppercuts and lovely straight shots up stairs all of which have real venom on them. If you let Nakatani control distance you really give yourself no chance.
At 5'5" the challenger is going to really have grit his teeth to get inside the champion, he's going to have to take some vicious shots to the mid-section, some concussive shots up top and prove his toughness just to stay in the fight. In all honesty we can't see him doing that for 12 rounds and with the experience of the Kato fight we can't see any way in which Nakatani loses unless he gets reckless.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Having canned the old "Full Schedule" of Asianboxing we have instead decided to concentrate more on the major bouts. This section, the "Preview" section will look at major bouts involving OPBF and national titles. Hopefully leading to a more informative style for, you the reader.