Home Boxing News Alexandro Santiago confident of claiming the scalp of Junto Nakatani in Japan...

Alexandro Santiago confident of claiming the scalp of Junto Nakatani in Japan this Saturday

Alexandro Santiago. Photo credit: Ryan Hafey/PBC

WBC bantamweight champion Alexandro Santiago 28-3-5 (14) is facing a stern test on Saturday night when he defends his title against undefeated former two-weight world champion Junto Nakatani 26-0 (19) at the Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo, Japan.

Challenger Nakatani, a 26-year-old southpaw, is moving up in weight after previously holding the WBO title at flyweight and super flyweight.

“What I know about him is he’s a young, hungry, great fighter,” Mexico’s Santiago, 28, told The Ring. “He has very good attributes. He’s tall, lean and a southpaw. In the past I’ve fought southpaws and I was the shorter man.

“He’s been champion twice and I love this type of challenge because I know beating a fighter like this with a tremendous resume, I’m going to a bigger level and better fights.”

Nakatani, a tall and rangy boxer-puncher, said the move up in weight was necessary.

“I would have to admit that my weight issue was the decisive factor in moving up a weight class,” Nakatani said to The Ring via Hank Hakoda. “I knew I could have stayed at junior bantamweight a bit longer, but when I actually moved up a weight class, I felt my body getting bigger and bigger.

“I don’t feel any change myself, but some of those who come around to the gym eagerly commented that I box faster and sharper. I see these objective observations in a positive light and will try to showcase more of my ability in the fight… I am more determined to build a solid bantamweight body, always with higher expectations of myself.

“I knew I could adapt to bantamweight whenever I moved up and I knew I definitely had that potential.

“I’m not worried about going straight to fighting a championship without any tune-up bouts. I am instead focused on getting in shape for this weight class.

“Since I have never had the experience of challenging a champion in my career, it is easy to get pumped up for the fight to accomplish something completely new.”

For Santiago, it will be his first fight off the North American continent.

“I’m going to his backyard in Japan and I’ve been working extremely hard,” Santiago said. “One of my beliefs is you win fights in the gym, mainly preparing yourself very well, the time, work ethic, the effort. That way the day of the fight everything will conclude, all the hard work usually is almost done.

“I have dedicated myself, I had good, tough sparring. We feel ready for this fight.”

Nakatani is expecting a tough fight, but says he is up for the challenge.

“Santiago is without doubt a strong champion, but I am eager to greatly surpass expectations of the curious fans, with an impressive showing against him, who wonder how actually my fight against him will play out,” Nakatani said.

“I also look forward to the challenge with high hopes for myself.”