Junto Nakatani might not be a household name in the US, but that could be for now. 

He fights Alexandro Santiago on February 24 at the Ryogoku Kokugikan, in Tokyo, Japan. Already a two-division world champion, he won the vacant WBO flyweight title over Giemel Magramo and defended it four times. Three of those four defenses were by stoppage. 

In 2023 he moved up to super flyweight. He won the vacant WBO super flyweight title against Andrew Moloney, and was already on course for victory when in the  12th round he produced perhaps the knockout of the year. He then soundly outpointed Argi Cortes, a former opponent of Juan Francisco Estrada. 

In 2024, aged 26 with a record of 26-0, including 19 knockouts, he is perhaps in contention to enter pound-for-pound lists.

He won world titles in three weight divisions in less than four years, often via dramatic finishes of which his fellow Japanese Naoya Inoue, one of the best fighters in the world, would be proud.

He must first fight his toughest opponent to date – and Alexandro Santiago also represents his physically biggest opponent. 

The 28-year-old Santiago won the vacant WBC bantamweight title by outworking Nonito Donaire last summer on the undercard of Errol Spence Jr-Terence Crawford. He makes his first against Nakatani. He is a battle-tested veteran, as was demonstrated by him drawing with Jerwin Ancajas in 2018, in a fight for Ancajas’ IBF super flyweight title. Ancajas, incidentally, fights Inoue’s brother Takuma, the WBA bantamweight champion, in the co-feature. 

Santiago enters the contest with a record of 28-3-5, 14 KOs. He is 28-years-old.

This perhaps remains the era of the lower-weight legends. Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez; Inoue; Estrada, and Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez. Nakatani can potentially join them. 

Even with his latest fight scheduled for approximately 6am on the east coast and 3am on the west, it could prove the birth of a star.