Junto Nakatani will have to wait a little longer for his first title defense.
Plans for the newly crowned WBO flyweight titlist to face former junior flyweight titlist Angel ‘Tito’ Acosta have been placed on hold. The bout was due to take place May 29 in Osaka, Japan but recently enforced COVID restrictions have essentially wiped out the nation’s boxing schedule for the month.
Representatives from Promociones Miguel Cotto and Golden Boy Promotions—Acosta’s co-promoters—were not in a position to comment on the postponement or plans to reschedule. BoxingScene.com has learned that the fight could wind up taking place later this summer.
Primera Hora first reported the fight being postponed.
Nakatani (21-0, 16KOs) emerged as a flyweight to watch in 2019, only for the pandemic to slow down his career progress. The 23-year-old southpaw was able to make his way back to the ring last November, in time to win his first major title as he stopped Philippines’ Giemel Magramo in the 8th round of their vacant WBO flyweight title fight in Tokyo. The bout was made on the condition that Acosta (22-2, 21KOs) was guaranteed to next face the winner.
Nakatani and Acosta were able to reach terms, with the 30-year-old San Juan product agreeing to head to Japan for a bid at becoming a two-division titlist. The Boricua knockout artist will have to put those plans on hold, as efforts to submit paperwork in time to travel abroad were met with resistance given the increased protocols in place in Japan, where a nationwide state of emergency was declared in late April.
Tokyo is due to host the delayed 2020 Summer Olympics, with extra safety measures being taken in recent months to prevent the threat of a future outbreak. Event organizers have already announced that international fans will not be permitted to attend the quadrennial classic this summer.
As for the flyweight title fight currently in limbo, no indication has yet been made as to whether the fight will remain in Japan or if Nakatani will wind up making his stateside debut.
There was loose talk about possibly packaging the fight with the recently rescheduled exhibition match between former four-division champions Miguel Cotto (Acosta’s co-promoter) and Juan Manuel Marquez. Another option absent keeping the fight in Japan would be to position the fight on a forthcoming Golden Boy Promotions show as plans are still being sorted to keep alive its July 9 DAZN date.
Acosta has fought in Japan just once before, dropping a 12-round decision to then-unbeaten Kosei Tanaka in their May 2017 WBO junior flyweight title fight. Acosta immediately rebounded, winning that very belt one fight later in a 10th round stoppage of Juan ‘Pinky’ Alejo in Dec. 2017—in support of the final fight of Cotto’s career, albeit in a 12-round points loss to Sadam Ali at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Three title defenses followed for Acosta before suffering a controversial 12th round stoppage to Elwin Soto in June 2019. The bout was his last at junior flyweight, having since won two straight at flyweight including an eight-round decision over Gilberto Mendoza this past March in Salinas, Puerto Rico.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox