Junto Nakatani expected to make his way to the United States at some point, though there is a part of him that expected it come after his first title defense.
The next fight for the unbeaten WBO flyweight titlist comes versus the same opponent he has expected to face all along, though with a drastic change of address attached to the ring assignment. Nakatani will make his United States debut in his mandatory title defense versus Puerto Rico’s Angel ‘Tito’ Acosta (22-2, 21KOs), which takes place September 10 on ESPN+ from AVA Amphitheatre oat Casino del Sol in Tucson, Arizona.
The bout comes more than three months after their planned May 29 clash in Osaka, Japan, with the event canceled due to increased COVID restrictions at the time in Nakatani’s home country.
“Naturally, I was disappointed. I was really looking forward to defending my title in Japan,” Nakatani told BoxingScene.com. “But now I get to fight in the United States and prove myself here.
“That has always been a dream of mine. It is strange how it turned out, but it is for a reason and I will take advantage of this opportunity to prove to my fans in America that I am the best flyweight in the world.”
Acosta aims to become a two-division titlist, having won two straight since his WBO junior flyweight title reign came to a close in June 2019.
Nakatani (21-0, 16KOs) will make the first defense of the belt he claimed in an eighth-round stoppage of Philippines Giemel Magramo last November in Tokyo. That bout was delayed by several months due to the pandemic, with his first title defense enduring a postponed date, the threat of a purse bid hearing and ultimately a drastic relocation before finally landing on the schedule. The 23-year-old, 5’7” southpaw embraces all of the major changes, as he views it as his audition for a new audience.
“After this fight, I definitely plan to fight in the United States again,” notes Nakatani, who has previously fought exclusively in Japan since his April 2015 pro debut. “This is the mecca of the boxing and it would be an honor to return here.
“I still have to beat Tito Acosta first. But if all goes well, yes I can see myself fighting again in the U.S.”
Nakatani-Acosta tops the undercard airing exclusively on ESPN+. In the evening's main event, WBC junior lightweight titlist Oscar Valdez (29-0, 23KOs) faces 2016 Olympic Gold medalist and unbeaten challenger Robson Conceicao (16-0, 8KOs) which airs live on ESPN and accompanying platforms.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox