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
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.