Santiago vs Nakatani Prediction: Nakatani is a Nightmare



Santiago vs Nakatani Prediction: Nakatani is a Nightmare

A few of Japan's very best boxers are set to square off this Saturday in Kokugikan Arena in Tokyo. While there's a good chance that many of you who aren't located in Asia have never heard about most of these fighters before, if you decide to tune in this weekend, you'll be guaranteed to see some absolutely world-class boxing — and our Santiago vs Nakatani prediction will certainly make you excited to watch.

The WBC world bantamweight title is on the line this weekend — and the current belt holder is entering this fight as a massive underdog.  

Regardless of whoever emerges as the victor between Alejandro Santiago and Junto Nakatani, we can say for sure that the winner needs to be considered as one of the world's elite pound for pound boxers — and should start to get much more shine from the boxing community than they're currently receiving. 

Our Santiago vs Nakatani Prediction: Japan's Next Superstar Emerges

While much of the hype around Japanese boxing is focused on Naoya Inoue, Japan's next rising prospect — Junto Nakatani — is one fight away from claiming a belt in his second weight class and becoming a bona fide superstar.

Although we still think that Nakatani will produce a spectacular knockout — just like he did eight months ago — and finish Saturday night as the new WBC world bantamweight champion. And the three reasons we believe so are explained below.

Nakatani's Knockout Power

There's something about the power that Japan's world-class boxers possess that just seems different from other fighters across the globe. While Naoya Inoue's power has been well documented, there's no question that Junto Nakatani — who is occasionally called “The New Monster” for his similarity in power to Inoue — has as much punching prowess as his predecessor. 

Just take one look at the KO of the year that Nakatani scored against Andrew Moloney last year as an example of that. While Nakatani was thoroughly dominating Moloney throughout the bout, and had already scored two knockdowns, the devastating left overhand that put Moloney's lights out is as impressive of a punch that we've seen in some time. 

What's perhaps most impressive about Nakatani's power is that he possesses it with both hands. While he floored Moloney in the second round with a flurry of right uppercuts, the latter two knockdowns he produced came with his left hand. 

Nakatani is a natural southpaw fighter — but his right uppercut might be his very best weapon. We expect to see a lot of it this weekend. 

A New Weight Class Brings A Better Nakatani

This will be the first bantamweight fight of Nakatani's career to this point. Before this, all of Nakatani's fights took place at either flyweight super flyweight (aka junior bantamweight); the latter of which is a weight class five pounds fewer than bantamweight. 

It was well known that Nakatani was having problems making super flyweight prior to this move up a weight class. In fact, Nakatani himself even said, “I would have to admit that my weight issue was the decisive factor in moving up a weight class,” when discussing what prompted him to make the change.

With Nakatani not needing to worry so much about making weight, our Santiago vs Nagatani prediction is that we expect to see a more focused, well hydrated, and even more devastating version of him on Saturday; which doesn't bode well for Santiago.

Nakatani's Massive Height Advantage

Even after moving up a weight class, Nakatani will enter this fight with a gigantic five-inch height advantage over Santiago.

While Nakatani doesn't necessarily need a height advantage in order to utilize his aggressive fighting style to the fullest, it certainly doesn't hurt. Nakatani should be able to live behind his jab, switch stances with ease, and set up shots in the early rounds that will open up avenues for his more powerful punches to land later on. 

Because Santiago has no choice but to enter Nakatani's range if he wants to land his own punches, he'll need to put himself in the fire. And since Nakatani is such an effective counterpuncher, any mistake that Santiago makes while within Nakatani's range could spell the end of his night. 

Best Betting Odds and Strategy for Santiago vs Nakatani

Based on our aforementioned assessments of this fight, below are the bets from this Saturday's fight that we believe have the best chance of earning you some money.

  • Nakatani to win by KO/TKO: Because of the three factors we just laid out — Nakatani's astounding power, his moving up to a new weight class, and his five-inch height advantage — have us feeling confident that Nakatani is going to produce an impressive KO in this fight against Santiago. 
  • Nakatani to win in rounds 7-12: While we do think that Santiago is ultimately going to get knocked out by Nakatani, we respect Santiago's skills enough to feel like he can manage to avoid Nakatani's best punches in the first half of the fight. Nakatani will have an immense amount of respect for his champion opponent in the early going, and will need to be somewhat cautious in the ring until he discovers what Santiago's game plan is going to be. Once that takes place, however, expect Nakatani's power to shine through.
  • Fight does not go the distance: While we may be biased because Nakatani produced one of the best KO's of all time last year, there is a scenario where Santiago can withstand Nakatani's attack, we simply don't see that being the case in this fight.  

Latest Santiago vs Nakatani Odds

  • Nakatani to win by TKO/KO @ -110
  • Nakatani to win in rounds 7-12 @ +160
  • Fight does not go the distance @ -115

Full Santiago vs Nakatani Preview

Now that you’ve heard our Alejandro Santiago vs Junto Nakatani predictions for Saturday, let’s dig further into the details. Read on for a breakdown of each fighter's career, and how they match up at this stage of their careers.

Alejandro Santiago — An Intriguing Champion

Although he may not be the most well-known boxer, Alejandro ‘Peque' Santiago (28-3-5) earned a ton of respect within the boxing community, when he defeated the legend Nonito Donaire via decision back in July. 

A lot of people predicted Santiago would knock Donaire out in that fight. And while that didn't end up being the case, Santiago still showcased some excellent footwork and boxing ability throughout the vacant WBC world bantamweight championship bout. 

The fact that Santiago has managed to produce five draws throughout his relatively brief career is actually quite impressive. And while Santiago does have a few losses on his record, the most recent was back in 2021. What's more, Santiago has never been knocked out — which might be the reason he makes it through all 12 rounds he's slated to face against Junto Nakatani on Saturday. 

In his 36 fight professional career, Santiago has produced 28 victories (14 of which have come by knockout), 3 losses, and 5 draws.

Junto Nakatani — a Slept-on Superstar

When the world thinks about Japanese boxers, the first name that comes to mind is Naoya Inoue. And while that's for good reason, we believe that Junto Nakatani (26-0) is just as impressive as ‘The Monster' — and should be just as much of a household name.

Nakatani has not been challenged much throughout his professional fighting career. He has managed to outclass every single opponent he has faced, and boasts a shocking 73% knockout rate — which is unheard of, considering that Nakatani has spent his career fighting as a flyweight and super flyweight. 

The reason we love to watch Nakatani fight is that he always displays an equal of respect and disregard for whatever is coming his way. What we mean by that is, Nakatani always displays a measured approach in the early rounds, getting a feel for his opponent's power and their prospective game plan against the undefeated Japanese fighter. 

Then, once Nakatani starts to get a feel, he begins walking through the fire in order to go for the devastating knockout. He's confident enough in his punching power to exchange blows with anyone — and has always managed to emerge victorious. 

Across his 26 fight professional career, Junto Nakatani has won all 26 fights — 19 of which came by way of knockout. He has held world championships in two weight classes, including the WBO flyweight title from 2020 to 2022 and the WBO junior-bantamweight title in 2023.

There doesn't seem to be too much hype leading into this weekend's boxing event in Tokyo, Japan. While we understand it's tough for American audiences to watch, given the time difference, we definitely recommend tuning in for this one wherever you're at. 

Grant Young is a sports writer from San Francisco. He has had two professional Muay Thai fights: he got knocked out in one, and got a knockout in the other. When it comes to his favorite fighters, it's Israel Adesanya, and then it's everyone else.