Junto Nakatani to Contest at Junior Bantamweight Against Francisco Rodriguez
3Kings Boxing has learned that WBO flyweight champion Junto Nakatani (23-0, 18 KOs) will return to the ring on November 1 against #3 (WBO) junior bantamweight Francisco Rodriguez Jr (36-5-1, 25 KOs) in a ten-round, non-title affair. The match will occur on the undercard of the junior flyweight unification showdown between WBA Super champ Hiroto Kyoguchi and WBC champ Kenshiro Teraji.
Nakatani – Rodriguez Jr will happen in the junior bantamweight division. A resident of Sagamihara, Kanagawa, Japan, Nakatani won the flyweight title with an eighth-round KO win over Giemel Magramo in November 2020. The 112-pound champ has been very impressive in two title defenses against one-time WBO 108-pound champ Angel Acosta in September 2021 and against Ryota Yamauchi in April 2021.
THE SIGNS ARE THERE
Nakatani still holds that title, but does he have his sights set on making a permanent move to 115? The 24-year-old was in attendance to witness WBC junior bantamweight champion Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez’s (16-0, 11 KOs) eighth-round stoppage win over two-time 115 champ Srisaket Sor Rungvisai in June. Afterward, Nakatani stated he would like to fight Rodriguez. He’s also expressed an interest in facing countryman and WBO junior bantamweight champion Kazuto Ioka (29-2, 15 KOs).
The WBO Flyweight champ is a skilled, talented southpaw who can box and fight on the inside with equal effect. He has a style that makes it look easy. Nakatani likes to set things up with the jab, then strike with powerful combinations to the head and body. Plus, he’s well-schooled and is sound defensively.
Nakatani is good enough to compete with the very best at 112 and 115. Rodriguez gave Ioka a decent go in a losing effort in September 2021. It speaks to Team Nakatani’s confidence that Rodriguez is the opponent of choice for this upcoming contest.
Nakatani has not been shy in expressing interest in facing world champions at a higher weight. One would guess that a move up in weight is maybe on the horizon for him. Fans of the lower-weight divisions should keep tabs on what he has in store for the rest of this year and especially in 2023.
By: Michael Wilson Jr.