Following his win over Milan Melindo last Saturday Junto Nakatani (20-0, 15) took a huge step towards a potential world title fight. Despite that win we feel he still needs 1, or maybe 2, more bouts on the fringes of world class to be fully prepared to face best in the division, so we though who better to feature in this week's regular "Five For..."
1-Noknoi Sitthiprasert (71-5, 44)
To prepare for a world title fight we think the best idea for Nakatani is to face someone who has fought for a world title, and proven their toughness. With that in mind we see Noknoi Sitthiprasert as a perfect candidate for Nakatani's next fight. The Thai veteran is no world beater, a long way from it in fact, but his bout with Kazuto Ioka in 2017 proved he was tough and could take punishment. Since losing to Ioka the Thai has reeled off 9 more wins, all against very limited opposition, and is sniffing around a big fight. Nakatani, in a world title eliminator, could well be that big fight.
2-Maximino Flores (25-4-1, 17)
With Nakatani edging towards a world title fight, a good idea would be to take on a top fighter from outside of Asia, getting a chance to face someone with a different style to what he has typically seen. With that in mind Mexican fighter Maximo Flores would be an idea candidate. He's the type of fighter who has shown a willingness to travel, is aggressive, and despite being flawed does have a desire to win. Last time out he travelled to the Philippines and defeated Carlo Caesar Penalosa and if you put him in with Nakatani it would be a great chance to see what Nakatani does under pressure.
3-Ryoichi Taguchi (27-4-2, 12)
Passing of the torch fights are one of the key signs of a fighter moving from prospect to contender, and there may be no better option for Nakatani than facing fellow Japanese fighter Ryoichi Taguchi. The 32 year old Taguchi, like Melindo, is on the slide, but has recently gone 12 rounds in a world title fight with WBO champion Kosei Tanaka, he has the dimensions of a true Flyweight but lacks world class power and should be a safe option but yet a credible step in the right direction. For Taguchi it could be one final big fight, a loss would send him into retirement but a win would leave him in the world title mix.
4-McWilliams Arroyo (19-4, 14)
Staying with the idea that Nakatani should be knocking on the door of a world title fight with his next bout, there may be no better opponent than Puerto Rican fighter McWilliams Arroyo. The talented 33 year old Arroyo is a 2-time world title challenger and has a history against Japanese fighters, with 2 of his 4 losses coming to fighters from the Land of the Rising Sun. Arroyo is a known name in the west, and a win for Nakatani would give him an increase in western attention ahead of a world title bout. Arroyo is of no slouch, and his losses to the likes of Amnat Ruenroeng, Roman Gonzalez and Kazuto Ioka have shown he belongs at world level and he's tough. This would be a real test for Nakatani and is the perfect high risk type of opponent he needs to really see what he has.
5-Julio Cesar Martinez Aguilar (14-1, 11)
If Nakatani does want a world title fight the obvious option appears to be a crack at the vacant WBC title against Mexican puncher Julio Cesar Martinez Aguilar. The hard hitting Martinez is set to get a world title fight at the vacant WBC belt, a title that he would be holding had it not been for stupidity in August that lead to him hitting a downed Charlie Edwards. Martinez is an absolute monster at 112lbs, he's bull strong, a huge puncher and one of the few contenders who looks like he's actually coming into his peak. With recent wins over Martin Tecuapetla, Victor Ruiz and Andrew Selby he's in form a little wrecking ball. With the WBC title on the line this would be a fight with a high risk and high reward, and seems to be the bout Nakatani wants.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Thinking Out East
With this site being pretty successful so far we've decided to open up about our own views and start what could be considered effectively an editorial style opinion column dubbed "Thinking Out East" (T.O.E).