Teofimo Lopez decisions a very game Masayoshi Nakatani.
Teofimo Lopez is arguably the brightest young star in boxing and has dubbed “the takeover” as his moniker.
When the announcement was made he would face little known Japanese contender Masayoshi Nakatani in a lightweight IBF eliminator, fans immediately felt Lopez would be the mandatory for champion Richard Commey.
Furthermore, fans had already started talking about that match-up and who would win!
This fight was not as simple as many anticipated!
Caught Off Guard
Maybe all the support Lopez received had him under-estimating his opponent a bit. Maybe not!
Either way, the 2 1/2 and 3 1/2 inch reach/height advantage respectively of Nakatani was giving the young phenom some trouble early.
A chess match was being played and the Japanese fighter was holding his own! Lopez did his usual thing; coming forward behind the shoulder roll and looking for opportunities to explode.
His opponent, however, showed how technically sound he was by making the lightweight phenom reset due to the jab/straight-right combination. In addition, he looked to come over the top of Lopez’ shoulder with a chopping right hand, which caused him to start to utilize more movement.
The display of technical ability and the way he kept Lopez resetting from that straight right-hand had analyst and former champion Andre Ward giving Nakatani the first two rounds.
Making The Adjustment
Fans already knew how explosive Lopez could be. Now it was time to see how good his IQ is. He quickly realized in the third round that his opponent fights too upright.
Additionally, he kept his left hand (his lead) too low and he rarely provided any lateral movement. Therefore, Lopez started to set traps. The catch-and-shoot, became the go-to!
Whenever Nakatani would throw the jab, Lopez would immediately position himself to block it with his right glove and immediately shoot a straight before his opponent could get his hands back up to defend himself.
This made the Japanese contender weary of throwing jabs from a distance. His answer? Move more towards the American and attack the body. This would work but at the expense of giving up his height and reach.
In turn, Lopez was given many more opportunities to volley off combinations at mid-range distance. As a result, the tables were turned and it was now Nakatani’s time to show he can make better adjustments!
The Better Fighter
Prior to this fight, Lopez had never been passed the eighth round. However, all of the counter punches did not deter the Japanese fighter from making a case that he belongs in the same ring.
The father/trainer of the American even acknowledged he did not expect Nakatani to be so tough. As good as this fight was, it was clear Lopez was the better fighter.
Although, the Japanese contender will no doubt gain some fans after this one. He absolutely gave the lightweight phenom a major test!
The official scorecards read 118-110 x2 and 119-109 all for Lopez. 3kingsboxing.com scored the fight 118-110 as well.
Lopez is now expected to face Richard Commey next as the mandatory for his title. He will no doubt have to clean some things up, particularly his susceptibility to the right-hand as that is Commey’s bread and butter.
If he beats Commey, he will be in line to get the fight he has been chasing!
By: EJ Williams