A week ago we got the official announcement that the long awaited Middleweight unification bout between IBF Middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin (41-1-1, 36) [Геннадий Геннадьевич Головкин]and WBA "Super" Middleweight champion Ryota Murata (16-2, 13) [村田 諒太] was a done deal, with a press conference in Japan announcing the bout. The press conference confirmed that it would be on December 29th, at the Saitama Super Arena, and shown on DAZN around much of the world, and Amazon Prime in Japan.
There was no under-card announced, and no supporting bouts confirmed for the event.
That changed this morning when two major under-card bouts for the show were announced.
The "lesser" of those bouts is an all Japanese Lightweight bout as former WBO Super Featherweight champion Masayuki Ito (27-3-1, 15) [伊藤 雅雪] takes on Shuichiro Yoshino (13-0, 10) [吉野 修一郎], in a bout in a bout for the WBO Asia Pacific and OPBF Lightweight titles, both held by Yoshino.
This bout has been spoken about in Japan or over a year now, but had failed to come together due to Ito suffering an upset loss last December. Despite that it's still a very highly anticipated one, and one that both men were looking forward to, as they explained at a press event today to confirm the bout.
Yoshino, who has been one of if not the the top Lightweight in Japan for several years now, stated that "I'm only thinking about winning over Ito. I'm not thinking about the future". He also explained that he was happy to get a fight on such a big stage, and that it seems clear that he's looking at this as his chance to break out and make a name for himself internationally. Ito on the other hand showed his gratitude to those who helped put the bout together, explained that he was lucky for this chance and that he sees it as a crucial moment in his career.
The other bout announced is more likely to get international fans excited as WBO Flyweight champion Junto Nakatani (22-0, 17) [中谷 潤人] returns for his second defense, as he faces off with 22 year old Mexican challenger Cristian Gonzalez (14-1, 4).
Nakatani was last seen defending his title with an impressive performance in the US against Angel Acosta, making his US debut with that win, and got rave reviews from American fans. His inclusion on this card is a smart move, especially given the fact the Flyweight division is one with notable international interest thanks to world champions from Mexico, Ukraine and the UK. As for Gonzalez he is somewhat unknown outside of Mexico, but he does hold a win of note over perennial contender Saul Juarez, and has won 8 in a row since a 2019 loss to Angel Ayala Lardizabal.
At the press event to announce the bout Nakatani explained, "I'm glad to have a defense battle in such a historic event in Japan" and added that "It is an honour to be able to play a match at such a big event. I want to win and connect to the match between Mr. Murata and Golovkin."
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