It looks as though we can look forward to another big fight card in Japan. News has come that tells us that recently crowned WBC bantamweight champion Junto Nakatini, a three-weight world ruler, will make his maiden title defence at 118 pounds, this against WBC mandatory challenger Vincent Astrolabio of the Philippines. The fight will go ahead at Tokyo’s Ariake Arena on July 20th, and additional fights are likely to be announced in due course.

You know that when there is a big card taking place in Japan these days, it’s usually stacked with quality from top to bottom. Speaking of quality, unbeaten 26 year old Nakatini, 27-0(20) is absolute quality, a joy to watch. The immensely skilled southpaw ripped clean through a tough, tough operator in Alexandro Santiago to claim the WBC 118 pound belt back in February, the former flyweight and junior-bantamweight champion stopping Santiago inside six flawless rounds.

That was the kind of display that gets fans feeling strongly the fighter they are watching is pound-for-pound material, and Nakatini for sure is. Astrolabio, who is a year older at 27 and is currently 19-4(14) is as game as they come and he has shown zero fear regarding going to another guy’s homeland to fight. Stopped just once, this by Yuki Strong Kobayashi back in 2018, Astrolabio earned his chance at Nakatini’s belt last time out, when he stopped Nawaphon Kaikanha in an eliminator in Bangkok. Prior to that win, “Acero,” as Astrolabio is known (“Steel”), dropped a majority decision in a fight with Jason Moloney, this a failed shot at the vacant WBO bantamweight strap.

Astrolabio’s biggest win is probably his February 2022 decision win over Guillermo Rigondeaux. Nakatini will be a pretty hefty favourite to win on July 20th (this of course the night when so many fight fans will be tuning in to see the Mike Tyson-Jake Paul affair in Texas), but Astrolabio can crack and he has shown skills. That said, Nakatini has the look of a potential great and it’s incredibly hard to pick against him here – or maybe anywhere. Nakatini might well become the second man to halt Astrolabio.

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