Junto Nakatani: “I’ll Take Relentless Action To Knock Out Santiago”

Naktani Bringing High Confidence into his Next Title Opportunity

Junto Nakatani looks to knockout Alexandro Santiago
Junto Nakatani (Etienne Laurent/EPA-EFE) to battle Alexandro Santiago for the WBC bantamweight title

Junto Nakatani to Push for the Knockout Against Santiago


The task for Junto Nakatani (26-0, 19 KOs) is to become a three-division champion when he faces the reigning WBC bantamweight champion Alexandro Santiago (28-3-5, 14 KOs) on February 24 in Tokyo, Japan. Nakatani believes he will decisively accomplish that goal and stop Santiago.

THE UPWARD CLIMB

A former world champion at 112 and 115 pounds, Nakatani has been steamrolling the competition up to this point in his career. His twelfth-round knockout over Andrew Moloney in May 2023 was one of the highlight moments of memorable moments of 2023.

In his most recent outing, he retained the WBO junior bantamweight title with a unanimous decision win over Argi Cortes in September 2023. But a month after the win over Cortes, Nakatani decided to vacate the 115-pound strap and seek to win another world title at 118.

The 26-year-old prepared for the fight with Santiago in Los Angeles, California with his trainer of several years, Rudy Hernandez. During an exclusive interview with the news outlet Ring Magazine, Nakatani said training has been rigorous, but he’s responded well and is in tip-top shape.

Some in the boxing community wonder if the 26-year-old is going up in weight too quickly. But the resident of Sagamihara, Kanagawa, Japan said making the 115-pound junior bantamweight limit was becoming quite difficult. Moving up to 118 was out of necessity.

NOT DOUBTING HIMSELF

He’s facing Santiago, who won the title with a unanimous decision win over future Hall of Famer Nonito Donaire in July 2023. Understanding he’s fighting in the challenger’s home country, the defending champion enters this contest with a chip on his shoulder.

Nakatani has great respect for the defending champion. However, he has complete confidence in his skills and what he can do in the ring. When asked about his thoughts on fighting Santiago, the Japanese southpaw said the following:

(Translated from Japanese) “I am supposed to become the world champ in this, my new division for sure. I will aim for a KO victory, and I will take a lot of relentless action to make it happen.

At the same time, I am well aware that he is a formidable stalwart champion, so I will try to apply and develop a boxing style that will test his mettle to break his spirits and confidence. I’m thrilled that fighting one of the real-deal fighters in bantamweight serves to be an opportunity to hone my skills.”

According to the betting odds, Nakatani is a prohibitive favorite. But that doesn’t matter once the bell rings. Can the challenger continue to steamroll the competition, or is he biting off more than he can chew against Santiago? That will play itself out on fight night in Tokyo.

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About Mike W.1959 Articles
Mike is the host of boxing podcast "Pound 4 Pound Boxing Report" and is a Senior Writer for 3kingsboxing.com.