Nakatani Targeting Inoue To Rank “Pound For Pound Number One”

Nakatani Hopes to Eclipse Inoue's Pound for Pound Ranking

Junto Nakatani hopes to share the ring with Naoya Inoue
Junto Nakatani seeks pound for pound rankings by facing Naoya Inoue (credit: Kyodo, Naoki Fukuda)

Nakatani Believes He Enters Pound for Pound With An Inoue Win

Among followers of the lower-weight divisions, the drumbeats are starting to bang louder for a fight between reigning WBC bantamweight champion Junto Nakatani (27-0, 20 KOs) and undisputed 122-pound kingpin Naoya “Monster” Inoue (27-0, 24 KOs). It’s something that Nakatani wants and is targeting. He believes a win over Inoue catapults him into the elite fighters in the sport.


Nakatani is in Los Angeles training for a July 20 title defense against mandatory challenger Vincent “Asero” Astrolabio. During an interview on the Boxing Mob podcast, Nakatani was asked about a potential fight with Inoue and said the following:

(Translated from Japanese) “This is a fight we are looking at as one of our goals, a big match . . . If we beat Inoue, I think we will get a lot of recognition. Pound for pound, I have a goal to be ranked number one. So I think this will be a very big match towards that goal.”


Naoya Inoue is currently ranked third in the Top Ten fighter rankings. Most pundits have rated him in the upper echelon of fighters for at least five years. But Nakatani is someone who has been creating plenty of buzz among hardcore fans. Of the present lot of fighters from 118-126, there’s a strong argument that Nakatani has the best chance of defeating Monster.

Inoue has previously stated that Nakatani is on his radar. In their native country of Japan, it would be a gigantic matchup of epic proportions. Even outside of Japan, it’s a significant fight with huge implications.

Junto Nakatani has plenty of respect from boxing insiders. It’s unknown whether a win over Inoue would make him the top fighter in the sport. But it would make him the centerpiece of boxing’s lower-weight divisions. Any serious fight fan has their fingers crossed that it eventually happens.

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About Mike W.2035 Articles
Mike is the host of boxing podcast "Pound 4 Pound Boxing Report" and is a Senior Writer for