Junto Nakatani breaks Angel Acosta’s nose to force fourth round TKO
Junto Nakatani (22-0, 17 KO’s) staged a successful first defense of his WBO world flyweight title. He did so by defeating his mandatory challenger Angel “Tito” Acosta (22-3, 21 KO’s) at the Casino Del Sol in Tucson, Arizona by way of fourth round TKO. On paper, the bout had the potential to be one of the best fights of the year written all over it. Nakatani became a champion by winning the then-vacant belt via eight-round KO win over Giemel Magramo in November of 2018. The 23-year-old from Inabe-gun, Mie, Japan has received rave reviews from boxing observers in his homeland.
He’s a skilled, well-balanced fighter with power in both hands. While his preference is to box, Nakatani can also hold his own in close. His inside fighting is possibly his most underrated trait. This is a fighter who makes it look effortless in the ring and can seemingly raise his game at will. Many believed that Magramo would be a tough fight, but the confident southpaw won with ease. He has the look of something special at 112 pounds.
However, that was all put to the test when he faced the toughest test of his career in Angel Acosta. Known for his prodigious power, the fighter nicknamed “Tito” actually sports good fundamentals and solid boxing skills. He carried extra motivation into this contest as his former trainer and father-in-law, Juan Muciño Ramirez, suddenly passed away on July 14. For this fight, he worked with the well-respected Joel Diaz. Nakatani-Acosta has largely been ignored, only creating a buzz among hardcore fans. Unfortunately, due to the cut, the bout never blossomed into the memorable war that it could have been
A BLOODY BUSINESS
The first round was strongly dominated by Nakatani’s stiff jab and left hook. For the majority of the period, the Japanese fighter setup shop in the middle of the ring and warded off the encroaching Acosta. Throughout the round, Nakatani landed his nasty left hook at various ranges but it was the right-hand that hurt Acosta toward the end of the period. When Acosta returned to his corner, his nose was leaking notably.
During the second round, the flowing carnage only continued to worsen. Two minutes in, referee Rocky Burke summoned the doctor to investigate. After a long, odd exchange, Acosta was allowed to continue. While fighting under duress, the Puerto Rican performed like a fighter and fought with the urgency needed to complete the period.
After almost two complete minutes of action in the third, the bout was put on hold for the doctor to check out Acosta’s nose for the second time. The irritating part was the fact that clearly his nose was damaged. There was no reason to believe that the bleeding would stop. Yet, the doctor kept insisting that the corner needed to stop the blood, which was a fool’s errand. Despite the nose continuing to bleed, he was sent back out again. Then the whole circus resumed in between the third and fourth rounds.
Abruptly, thirty seconds into the fourth period, referee Burke waived the contest off. While the blood was flowing, in this writer’s opinion, Angel Acosta should have been able to continue until he or his corner bowed out. Even though his good work will likely be overshadowed by this micromanaged match, this was a solid first title defense for Junto Nakatani.
By: Bakari Simpson