Junko Nakatani TKOs Alexandro Santiago for WBC bantamweight title

Junto Nakatani scored a sixth-round TKO victory over Alexandro Santiago on Saturday in Tokyo to become the WBC bantamweight champion, his third division title.

Japan’s Nakatani (27-0, 20 KOs) floored Santiago with a straight left in Round 6. Moments later, a crisp right hook sent the Mexican to the canvas again as Santiago’s corner quickly halted the one-sided action at 1 minute, 12 seconds.

Nakatani, 26, won every round on all three scorecards.

“Looking forward to everyone watching me fight at bantamweight from now on,” said Nakatani, who trains in Los Angeles.

He entered the bout rated No. 4 at 115 pounds by ESPN; this was Nakatani’s first fight at 118 pounds. And even in another weight class, Nakatani still possessed considerable advantages in height and reach.

At 5-foot-8 with a 67-inch reach, Nakatani was able to box from the outside, using his active southpaw jab to control the action. He peppered Santiago with clean left hands from range and busted up the champion around both eyes.

Santiago (28-4-5, 14 KOs) entered the ring on the heels of a career-best performance, a unanimous-decision victory over future Hall of Famer Nonito Donaire in July. That win lifted Santiago to his first world title and a No. 4 ESPN ranking at bantamweight.

But against Nakatani, Santiago was no match. Every time the 28-year-old Mexican attempted to close distance, Nakatani met him with jabs and uppercuts that stymied the champion’s attack. Santiago, at 5-foot-3, conceded five inches in height.

He had won four bouts since a November 2021 majority-decision loss to Gary Antonio Russell.

Nakatani is one of the fastest-rising boxers in the sport. His 12th-round knockout victory over Andrew Moloney in May was named ESPN’s KO of the Year. That win captured Nakatani the WBO title at 115 pounds, a belt he successfully defended in September via decision vs. Argi Cortes.

Nakatani also won a title at 112 pounds.

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