Junto Nakatani Moves Back To 115lbs; Defeats Rodriguez Jr!

Junto Nakatani Takes Center Stage At Super Flyweight!

Collage of Junto Nakatani Win Over Francisco Rodriguez Jr
Junto Nakatani defeats Francisco Rodriguez Jr.

Junto Nakatani Takes Care Of Veteran Francisco Rodriguez Jr By Unanimous Decision


At the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, Junto Nakatani (24-0, 18 KOs) took on Francisco Rodriguez Jr (36-6-1, 25 KOs) in a ten-round super flyweight contest.

Nakatani is considered one of the best fighters in Japan and among the lower-weight divisions.

In November 2020, he scored an eight-round knockout over Giemel Magramo to win the then-vacant WBO flyweight title. He defended that title twice. His first title defense was an impressive fourth-round stoppage over the former WBO light flyweight champion Angel Acosta in September 2021. That was followed by an easy dismantling of Ryota Yamauchi in April 2022. But days before this bout, the 24-year-old decided to vacate the WBO title and move up to super flyweight.

He faced Rodriguez, who is no slouch of a fighter. Ranked third by the WBO and four by the WBA at super flyweight, the 30-year-old gave a good account of himself in a losing effort to the reigning WBO junior bantamweight champ, Kazuto Ioka in September 2021. Rodriguez is durable with good punching power. On paper, this was a world championship-level contest based on ability and resume.

A HARD-FOUGHT BATTLE

A battle of southpaws, Rodriguez started this fight on the attack. He was in Nakatani’s chest, not giving him much room to operate and making things quite uncomfortable in the first three rounds.

Starting in the fourth, Nakatani started to create space and find his rhythm. It was during the middle portion of the fight when the southpaw was able to land more consistently with jabs, then land with straight left hands down the middle as well as uppercuts and hooks to the body and head. However, Rodriguez was like an energizer bunny and kept pressing forward. The action was intense, and not the easiest to score at times. 

Round nine saw Rodriguez take the round off to reserve himself. But the last round saw him come on strong, pushing Nakatani back. But in the last thirty seconds, he gathered himself and finished the fight strong. 

In the end, the judges scored the fight for Nakatani by unanimous decision (98-91, 97-92, 99-90). While this reporter feels he deserved the verdict, the fight was in fact closer than the judge’s scorecards indicated. For the winner, he was forced to work throughout.

Nakatani’s mission is to win a world title in what is a stacked junior bantamweight division. Due to the fact that he was a former WBO champion at flyweight, the sanctioning body could make him their number-one contender at super flyweight. That would put him in a prime position to face countryman and WBO junior bantamweight champion, Kazuto Ioka. Nakatani also has an interest in fighting either Juan Francisco Estrada or Roman Gonzalez, who is set to fight each other for a third time on December 3.

By: Michael Wilson Jr.

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About Mike W.2010 Articles
Mike is the host of boxing podcast "Pound 4 Pound Boxing Report" and is a Senior Writer for 3kingsboxing.com.