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)