Gennadiy Golovkin’s and Ryota Murata’s December 29th unification match in Saitama has its first pair of undercard bouts, and they’re unsurprisingly heavy on Japanese talent. Flyweight ace Junto Nakatani will defend his WBO title against 11th-ranked Cristian Gonzalez, while former junior lightweight champ Masayuki Ito will challenge unbeaten Shuichiro Yoshino for the OPBF lightweight title and a WBO trinket.
Nakatani (22-0, 17 KO) has emerged as one of the country’s best at just 23 years old, smashing all comers to establish himself as a 112-pound elite. His last three fights have seen him stop veteran Milan Melindo, batter Giemel Magramo for the vacant title, and turn Angel Acosta’s nose two-dimensional to prematurely end their slugfest. He figures to have a softer touch in Gonzalez (14-1, 4 KO), who’s never competed outside his native Mexico. Though he’s won eight straight, the only notable figure among them was the thoroughly shot Saul Juarez.
Ito (27-3-1, 15 KO) is 2-1 since losing his title to Jamel Herring in what was considered an upset at the time, dropping a majority decision to unbeaten countryman Hironori Mishiro last December. Yoshino (14-0, 11 KO), meanwhile, has dominated the domestic scene with a long stretch as Japanese champion and recent acquisition of the OPBF belt by beating Valentine Hosokawa.