Junto Nakatani became a three-weight world champion by easing to a sixth-round stoppage of Alexandro Santiago in Tokyo, Japan.

On the occasion of his first fight at bantamweight he won the WBC title and perhaps even showed that he is more naturally suited to his new weight division than super flyweight and flyweight, where he has previously reigned.

For a fight for which he was already the favourite, he consistently controlled the pace and range of what unfolded until ending Santiago’s first title defence 72 seconds into the sixth round at the Kokugikan.

Santiago, 28 and who had won the vacant title against Nonito Donaire in July, landed a hurtful left hand towards the conclusion of the second round but otherwise consistently struggled for success.

It was in the third when Nakatani – whose power was so devastatingly proven at super flyweight when in May 2023 he stopped Andrew Moloney – started to regularly succeed with his left hand, and in so doing opened a cut over Santiago’s right eye.

If there had been questions about the extent to which he would carry his power into his new weight division he continued to answer them in the fourth. In every way that Santiago was struggling to get inside of Nakatani’s considerable reach, Nakatani was comfortable, as he again demonstrated by landing another hurtful right hand and then a left on Santiago’s cut before moving out of range.

He again punished the Mexican for falling short by backing him up with a combination in the fifth round, and in the sixth showed the same patience and composure to bring Santiago’s brief run as champion to an end.

A straight left hand dropped Santiago, and when the Mexican returned to his feet and was struggling to defend himself, Nakatani landed a right hook that dropped him again and forced his corner to intervene. 

“I spent many hours training in LA and Japan,” the 26 year old from Japan said, post-fight. “Getting the WBC bantamweight title is such an honor, especially because there are so many boxers who have got it before me.

“I want to fight at bantamweight from now on. Thank you so much for your support.”

The retired Chris Algieri, from his position as commentator, described the “very special” Nakatani’s performance as “nearly flawless”. “Santiago looked lost,” he added.