Angel ‘Tito’ Acosta watched the last WBO flyweight title fight take place with the understanding that he would have the next shot at the crown.
That day will soon arrive for the former junior flyweight titlist.
Puerto Rico’s Acosta (22-2, 21KOs) will hit the road in a bid to become a two-division titlist, as he will next face reigning champ Junto Nakatani. The bout is scheduled to take place May 29 at a location to be determined in Nakatani’s home country of Japan.
“Tito Acosta is ready for the challenge that he has against Junto Nakatani,” Miguel Cotto, former four-division champ and Acosta’s current co-promoter told BoxingScene.com in confirming the news which was first reported by The Gondol. “His biggest motivation is to become a world champion in a second division.
“Tito has all that is needed to obtain a solid victory. On May 29 in Japan, there will be a new WBO world champion.”
Nakatani (21-0, 16KOs) claimed the vacant belt in an 8th round knockout of Philippines’ Giemel Magramo last November at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo. Magramo and Acosta were the two highest rated contenders at the time, though with Acosta—after consulting with Promociones Miguel Cotto and Golden Boy Promotions, his co-promoters—allowed Nakatani to momentarily jump the line, with the promise of being able to challenge the winner.
The title defense will be the first for Nakatani, while Acosta travels to the country where he fought his first title fight and which resulted in his first career defeat, dropping a competitive but clear 12-round decision to then-unbeaten Kosei Tanaka in their May 2017 WBO junior flyweight title fight.
Acosta would claim the belt in his next fight, scoring a 10th round knockout of Juan ‘Pinky’ Alejo in Dec. 2017 at New York City’s famed Madison Square Garden. The feat came on the undercard of Cotto’s final fight as a pro, with his WBO junior middleweight title reign and career ending just as Acosta began his run. Three successful defenses followed for the rail-thin knockout artist before suffering a controversial 12th round stoppage to Elwin Soto in June 2019. Two wins have followed the debacle, with Acosta moving up in weight.
In his most recent start, Acosta won a fight by decision for the first time in his career as he outpointed Gilberto Mendoza over eight rounds this past March in Salinas, Puerto Rico. The fight came as a rust-shaker after having been out of the ring since Oct. 2019, knowing that next up was going to be arguably the toughest test of his career.
“Time after time we have shown that Golden Boy is more than willing to have our fighters travel to enemy turf to compete for a world title,” Robert Diaz, VP/Matchmaker at Golden Boy told BoxingScene.com “This time will not be an exception as Tito Acosta looks to become a two-division world champion against Junto Nakatani in Japan.
“We and our partners at Miguel Cotto Promotions look forward to bringing the world title back to Puerto Rico.”
A win by Acosta will make him the island’s lone male boxer to hold a major title. Record-breaking seven-division titlist Amanda Serrano represents Puerto Rico’s lone active champ, currently holding the WBO/WBC featherweight titles.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox