Junto Nakatani hopes to accomplish as much as possible for however long he plans to remain at flyweight.
Next up for the reigning WBO flyweight titlist is a return home, where Nakatani will face countryman Ryota Yamauchi (8-1, 7KOs) in a voluntary title defense. The bout takes place Saturday evening (local time) at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, roughly an hour from Nakatani’s hometown in Sagamihara.
Nakatani (22-0, 17KOs) will attempt the second defense of the title he claimed in an eighth-round knockout of Giemel Magramo in November 2020. The 5’7” southpaw will likely move up before year’s end, though hopeful of landing at least one unification bout and preferably against who many regard as the division’s top fighter.
“I’m interested in fighting with Julio Cesar Martinez at (flyweight),” Nakatani told BoxingScene.com of a desired showdown with the reigning WBC flyweight titlist.
For now, there exists the opportunity to shine on a high-profile card back home.
Natakani-Yamauchi serves as the co-feature to the Gennadiy ‘GGG’ Golovkin-Ryota Murata IBF/WBA middleweight title unification bout, with both fights airing live on DAZN. It marks the second straight time that Nakatani appears before an expanded viewing audience, coming off a fourth-round technical knockout of former junior flyweight titlist Angel Acosta on an ESPN+ telecast last September in Tucson, Arizona.
His placement on this weekend’s DAZN show lands Nakatani on a platform that houses most of the best talent in the 115-pound division. A move up in weight is inevitable, in fact a goal of the unbeaten titlist.
“I want to be super flyweight champion in 2022,” insists Nakatani.
For now, the opportunity to shine at home for the first time since winning his title will suffice. An expected capacity crowd of 20,000 or so on hand will be a far cry from Nakatani’s title-winning effort 17 months ago, which took place behind closed doors due to the pandemic.
“I’m very happy and excited to fight in front of fans,” admits Nakatani. “I have huge motivation fighting [on the] undercard [of the] Murata-GGG unification fight.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox