Sunny Edwards Proposes Fighting Junto Nakatani in a World Flyweight Tournament
Junto Nakatani (23-0, 18 KOs) successfully defended the WBO flyweight title for the second time with an eighth-round TKO win over Ryota Yamauchi (8-2, 7 KOs) at the Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. Fighting on the undercard of the Gennady Golovkin v Ryota Murata middleweight unification showdown, Nakatani was impressive. He dominated Yamauchi from the opening bell, doing whatever he wanted before finishing him off.
Ringside broadcasters complimented the champ’s ability, talking up potential opponents at 112 and 115 pounds. Observers of the lower-weight divisions and hardcore heads were singing his praise afterward on social media.
NOT MOVED BY WHAT HE WITNESSED
If fans and pundits had their eyes on what went down in Japan, so were fellow fighters. One of which was IBF flyweight champion Sunny “Showtime” Edwards (18-0, 4 KOs). Clearly paying attention to the fight, the product of London, England shot off a series of tweets in reaction to Nakatani’s win.
Edwards is coming off a unanimous decision win over mandatory challenger Muhammad Waseem on March 19 in Dubai. The feisty and elusive Brit has not been shy about his desire to face the top fighters in the division. On numerous occasions, he’s called for a unification showdown with WBC 112 pound champ Julio Cesar Martinez. Based on his statements on Nakatani, he’s not opposed to facing the WBO champ either.
The question now becomes, how viable is a fight between Nakatani and Edwards? Yes, you’re talking about a potential unification fight, which would be significant. However, it would take plenty of work behind the scenes to make that fight.
THE HARSH REALITY
Pro boxing is often about money and logistics. Japan is a hotbed for smaller-weight fighters. It’s where you can make the most money. Is Edwards willing to pack his bags and travel to the land of the orient to make that fight happen?
Furthermore, would Team Nakatani be interested in the match? It’s not because he’s afraid. On the contrary, the talented southpaw from Japan may have bigger aspirations. Nakatani has visions of becoming a multi-divisional world champion. He also wants to follow the footsteps of countryman Naoya Inoue and make a name for himself in the United States.
There are already rumblings he could exit the division and jump to 115 as soon as his next fight. It’s a move that makes sense as junior bantamweight is one of the best divisions in the sport. Nakatani has the skill, size, and power to fit right in with the best in that division and has already expressed a desire to fight Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez and *WBO junior Bantamweight champ Kazuto Ioka.
Fighting Edwards would be a decent option. But the prospect of fighting a legend like “Chocolatito” either in the United States or Japan carries more weight from a financial and sheer respect factor. So does a fight with Ioka which would be a big money match in Japan. While Edwards may want the fight and is proposing a flyweight tournament, it’s not his call. Simply put, Nakatani seems to have eyes on a different prize. Don’t anticipate this battle happening anytime soon.
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By: Michael Wilson Jr.