Junto Nakatani is ready for the toughest test of his career, to the point where he will not be surprised by anything that his challenger will bring to the ring.
The unbeaten 23-year-old Japanese flyweight makes the first defense of his WBO title versus former junior flyweight titlist Angel ‘Tito’ Acosta. Their bout takes place September 10 and is expected to steal the show that will air live on ESPN+ from AVA Amphitheater at Casino del Sol in Tucson, Arizona.
“Tito is a former world champion with big punching power,” Nakatani acknowledged to BoxingScene.com. “This is a great test for my first title defense.
“I am expecting a tough challenge, which is why we made sure to get (to the United States) early to finish training.”
The event is headlined by WBC junior lightweight titlist Oscar Valdez (29-0, 23KOs) in a title defense versus Robson Conceicao (16-0, 8KOs), a three-time Olympian and 2016 Olympic Gold medalist for Brazii. It marks the U.S. debut for Japan’s Nakatani (21-0, 16KOs), whose last several weeks of training are being spent out of Rudy Hernandez’s facility in Southern California.
The 5’7” southpaw from Sagamihara, Japan was originally due to defend his title versus Puerto Rico’s Acosta in his home country this past May, only for the event to be canceled due to COVID restrictions in Japan.
The four-month delay comes with Acosta taking on a new trainer due to the passing of his father-in-law and former head coach Juan Muciño earlier this summer. Acosta—who held the WBO junior flyweight title for 18 months prior to losing the belt in June 2019—is now guided by Joel Diaz, insisting that his time spent with the renowned cornerman has already drastically improved his technique.
Nakatani was already anticipating a stiff challenge for his maiden title defense. The same mentality went into his title-winning effort, an eighth-round knockout of Philippines’ Giemel Magramo last November. It will once again apply in preparation for Acosta, no matter what the hard-hitting Boricua brings to the ring that wasn’t already scouted.
“It doesn’t matter to me what changes he makes,” insists Nakatani. “We are prepared for any scenario. I know how tough of a fight this is and I am ready.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox