By - George Delis (@Delisketo)
Top lightweight contenders collide on July 19 as longtime OPBF champion Masayoshi Nakatani meets Honduran-American knockout artist Teofimo Lopez, in an IBF Lightweight World title eliminator.
Masayoshi Nakatani (18-0 / 12 KOs), after a successful amateur career, made his debut in 2011, at the age of 21, winning 6 fights in a row (5 stoppages), including a victory over future Japanese champion Shuhei Tsuchiya. Nakatani punished the veteran (Tsuchiya was 14-1 at the time) with left hooks and body blows to get the KO win, in just the third round.
In 2014, he went toe to toe with former Japanese and the then reigning OPBF champion, Yoshitaka Kato (30-8), for the strap. Despite again being the less experienced of the two, Nakatani took the champion to his limit for 12 rounds, earning a majority decision, thus winning the championship and the East Japan Boxing Association Monthly MVP Award.
Since then, Nakatani has defended his title 11 times, including wins over Ricky Sismundo (35-13), Thai heavy hitters Amphol Suriyo (23-4) and Krai Setthaphon (28-4) as well as former WBC Asia & IBF Pan Pacific champion Tosho Makoto Aoki (20-14), placing himself at the top of the division.
His most recent one was in December of 2018, against 15 year pro & the WBC International champion Hurricane Futa (25-8), who came out aggressively from the beginning of the match, dictating the pace early on. Eventually though, Nakatani utilized his reach advantage to pepper Futa with jabs, following them up with some fast hooks, which cut Futa’s left eyebrow, leading to the referee stoppage.
Nakatani is finally one breath away from competing for the World championship, but in order to do so, he has to go through a seriously tough opponent first.
Teofimo Lopez (13-0 / 11 KOs) has made quite an impact in the boxing scene rather fast, considering his young age. The 2015 Golden Gloves champion has finished 7 out of his 9 first pro fights, in impressive fashion.
He won his 1st championship last July when he faced William Silva (27-2) for the vacant WBC Continental Americas title. Lopez scored 3 knockdowns throughout the match, all courtesy of his powerful left hook. In December of the same year, he took out Mason Menard (35-4), stopping him in less than a minute, with a thunderous overhand right, to add the USBA, NABF & NABA titles to his collection.
2019 has already been a serious step up in competition for the undefeated prospect. On February 2nd, he defended his belts against 2 time world title challenger Diego Magdaleno (31-3). Lopez looked like the real veteran of the two, with his rival barely doing any damage, while he had him in trouble from the get go. By round 4, Magdaleno’s nose seemed to have been broken. El Brooklyn kept the pressure on, connecting with a few perfectly placed uppercuts as well. Lopez finally dropped him in the 6th with a nice right hook to the body/left to the face combination and sealed the deal in the next round, after landing two consecutive devastating left hooks.
Just 2 months later, Lopez fought again, this time against Edis Tatli (31-3). A former EBU European champion and also a world title contender, Tatli had never been stopped before in his entire career. That was about to change as Lopez “bullied” him around the ring, leaving him almost no room for an offense of his own. The end came in the 5th after a straight right to the body, which put the Finnish boxer down for the count.
Despite only being 21, Lopez has proven that he deserves to be considered amongst the most dangerous guys of the division. With dynamite in both of his hands and an 85% KO ratio, it’s no secret that he’s always looking for that knockout. Needless to say that Nakatani will need to dig deep into his bag of tricks, if he is to emerge victorious. The Japanese star’s agility and fast combinations have been the key factors to his success. Nakatani likes to use body shots and jabs in order to create openings and then strike with the hook. His long reach might have given him the edge in all of his previous encounters, but it will be a non issue here, since Magdaleno had the same reach and still got manhandled by Lopez. With a 9 year age difference, El Brooklyn is undoubtedly the younger, faster, stronger boxer and it’s almost guaranteed to give Nakatani his first loss as a pro.
By - George Delis (@Delisketo)
A clash of top Japanese lightweight boxers will take place on December 9, at the EDION Arena in Osaka, as Masayoshi Nakatani defends the OPBF crown, for the 11th time, against the WBC International champion Hurricane Futa.
Masayoshi Nakatani (17-0 / 11 KOs) had an extensive career as an amateur, before turning pro, participating in 60 bouts. Finally made his debut in 2011, at the age of 21, winning 6 fights in a row (5 stoppages), including a victory over future Japanese champion Shuhei Tsuchiya. Nakatani punished the veteran (Tsuchiya was 14-1 at the time) with left hooks and body blows to get the KO win, in just the third round.
In 2014, he went face to face with former Japanese and the then reigning OPBF champion, Yoshitaka Kato, for the OPBF belt. Despite again being the less experienced of the two, Nakatani 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.
Since then, Nakatani has defended his title 10 times, including wins over Ricky Sismundo (35-11), Amphol Suriyo (23-3), Krai Setthaphon (27-4) and Ryan Sermona (20-9), placing himself at the top of the division, as he is ranked #5 by the IBF, #8 by the WBC and #12 by the WBO.
Hurricane Futa (25-7 / 15 KOs) is a fighter who has been around for a very long time. A 14 year professional, who has competed in over 30 matches and has faced competition from all over the world. His biggest fights to date have been against Will Tomlinson (25-3) and Vage Sarukhanyan (18-2).
Specifically, Futa stopped Tomlinson, a former IBO “world” & WBO Asia Pacific champion, in only 40 seconds of the first round, with a killer left hook, to win the interim WBA Oceania title. Also, this past February, he took on the WBC International champion Sarukhanyan, in a WBSS show, for the Russian’s title. Futa delivered a KOTY candidate in the 7th round, as he endured a plethora of punches before he caught the champion with a counter left hook, which knocked him out cold. Prior to the knockout, the Japanese fighter was controlling the entirety of the bout, even dropping Sarukhanyan with the same move in the 3rd. It’s worth mentioning that both title matches took place at his opponents’ home countries.
Despite having 7 losses on his record, it should be pointed that the majority of them are against high level boxers like Foijan Prawet (77-6), the reigning WBA International Featherweight champion & #2 WBA ranked Can Xu (15-2) as well as 2 division world champion Jhonny Gonzalez (66-11).
This is an important fight for both men. Nakatani may be only one or two fights away from challenging for a world championship, whereas this is Futa’s chance to break into the top 10 of the division. Moreover, their styles are very similar to each other. Nakatani’s agility and fast combinations have been the key factors to his success through out his career. He also likes to use body shots in order to create openings and then strike with the left hook, which is something we have seen him do in almost all of his fights. Futa is also a cracking boxer who packs a lot of power in his left hand, much like his opponent here. With 26 KOs combined between these two, it will be no surprise if this ends way before the 12th round.
Will Nakatani reach a perfect 18-0 record or Futa’s experience and power be proven too much for him to handle ? We will find out soon in Osaka !
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)
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.