Jyunjin Nakatani, “Heir to the Monster,” talks about his next fight and Naoya Inoue’s super techniques | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Jyunjin Nakatani, “Heir to the Monster,” talks about his next fight and Naoya Inoue’s super techniques

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Recently, the number of boxers who fail to weigh in is increasing because they are not in control of their body fat. Nakatani is happy that cold noodles are OK

A month and a half has passed since Jyunjin Nakatani (25) won a two-weight championship with a shuddering KO in Las Vegas, the home of boxing in the United States.

Nakatani, who is tall in the super flyweight division at 170 cm, laughed, “I gained 8 kg since my title match against Andrew Moloney (32 ).” Even so, he looks fit. The proper weight is still obvious. That is why he is expected to become the first Japanese fighter to win six weight classes.

I resumed gym work on July 6. When I put on the headgear, it bit into my cheeks and I had a hard time (laughs). I’m going to the U.S. again on July 20 with (my brother) Ryuto, and we’re going to set up a camp there. I think I will be able to squeeze it in there right away.

Waiting for him in the U.S. is Rudy Hernandez, the famous trainer who has been coaching Nakatani since he was 15 years old. It has been 10 years since Nakatani became an apprentice of Rudy Hernandez, who came to the U.S. alone after graduating from junior high school, saying, “I want to become a world champion. Nakatani was called “Monster 2,” not “Next Monster,” by Gushiken Yoshitaka, Takehara Shinji, Hatayama Takanori, and others. He is already the best in the super flyweight division.

When I met Rudy, I was filled with a sense of tension: “If I don’t get his approval, I will never become a world champion. So, how could I get him to recognize me? Rudy emphasizes real competition, and we would spar in the morning and in the afternoon, but as we sparred more and more.” I realized that he appreciated players who understood the instructions accurately and carried them out faithfully. Since then, for the past 10 years, that has been my focus.

At the training camp prior to the title match, the southpaw Nakatani was instructed to spar in an orthodox (right-handed stance). The scenery he saw changed drastically, and he was hit by a bullet. However, it helped him to land a weighted right uppercut to Moloney’s jaw in the World Championships.

Rudy’s coaching is really unique. For example, he said, ‘Jundt, I have some bad news. In the next round, you’re not going to get out of your corner and just dodge punches. You are not allowed to raise your arms. If you break this rule, you’ll have to do push-ups. He’s a bad boy. Sanction him with the body only. And that helps in a real fight. Before this title match, in addition to orthodox sparring, we had three sets of 15-minute sparring. ‘Jundt, you sweat a lot, and it will help you lose weight, right?’ (laughs). There were a lot of students in the gym, and Rudy couldn’t watch them all at the same time, but he had his eyes on them all. Even if he is far away, he hears the sound of me hitting the sandbag and tells me to hit properly.

Nakatani says that “no punches worked ” in this title match. He suffered a cut above his left eyebrow, but “it was no problem. On the contrary, I was so excited because I saw the blood that I KO’d (Moloney),” he laughed.

His brother, Tatsuto, is the mood maker of the Nakatani family and Rudy Gym. Rudy says to me, ‘Come and live here! Rudy says he is applying for a green card. He’s applying for a green card.

Speaking of punches that worked on me, it goes back to when I was in junior high school. I was in the 30kg range and my opponent was in the 50kg range, so there was quite a weight difference between us. I thought, “No way, I’m going to fall down. That was the last time.”

“I didn’t have any punches that worked, but I was able to avoid the butting. Rudy had advised me, ‘Moloney is going to head-tackle you, so guard yourself by putting the arm that is not punching on your forehead,’ and I forgot to do that. In the fifth to seventh rounds, when Moroni came forward, my strategy of timing my punches to his movements to reduce his stamina, both mentally and physically, worked well, but I thought I could have reduced his stamina more. That’s another thing I regret.”

In his second fight at super flyweight, he dominated the champion. Nakatani thinks he has “one or two more fights” in this weight class. His next target will be Kazusho Ioka, 34, who avoided a nominated bout with Nakatani by vacating his WBO belt and challenging for the WBA belt. Or is it WBC super flyweight champion Juan Francisco Estrada (33), whom Ioka is targeting?

I don’t care which one it is. But a fight with Ioka might be exciting, but I don’t think it will happen. If anything, I would rather fight Estrada. Either way, I want to unify the belts and take the next step. I don’t intend to stay in this weight class for too long.”

Above super flyweight is bantam. Another step up is the super bantamweight division, where Naoya Inoue (30) is currently ranked. The day when these two monsters cross paths may be closer than expected. In an interview with this magazine, the “original monster” said, “The first round is a round where I use my sensors to measure the distance from which my opponent’s punches will hit me and the distance from which my punches will hit him. Inoue’s theory is that whoever wins the “battle of distance” wins the fight. How does Nakatani see Inoue’s view?

In the first round, when Inoue measures the distance from his opponent, I look for a position where I can get the center of the opponent’s body. I try to find a position where I can put a straight left straight into the center of the opponent’s body, the vital point, in a straight and balanced manner. My ideal opponent is former minimum and light flyweight champion Ricardo Lopez (56), who retired as a champion with 51 wins and 37 KOs. I believe that his “boxing that doesn’t let the opponent do what he wants” is the ultimate.

There were two major comments made by boxers who actually fought Naoya Inoue after the fight. One was, “When I tried to punch back, Inoue was no longer there. The second was, “I heard he had great power, but what surprised me was how fast his hand speed was. Nakatani’s view was as follows.”

When he punches, he can backstep or sidestep to get out of his opponent’s range to “strike without letting him strike. Inoue is very skilled at this. It is a trick that requires good body balance and physical strength. The direction of escape is always different, so I think that the opponent is under the illusion that Inoue has disappeared. Not being able to see the opponent is quite terrifying.

As for the “hand speed” – I think Inoue is swinging his body and punching at the same time. Normally, a boxer looks at his opponent’s body, not at his face or hands, during a match. They look at the movements of the body and muscles to predict which punch will come next and where it will come from. In Inoue’s case, however, when his body moves, the punch has already been delivered. That is why you feel he is fast.

Last year, Inoue won the title of “the best pound-for-pound fighter” for the first time in Japanese boxing history. Seeing Nakatani’s unstinting analysis of the super techniques of the “original monster,” I couldn’t help but wish for a monster summit showdown in his prime.

One year or two years from now, and beyond that showdown, the dream of a six-weight class domination lies ahead.

A commemorative photo with the family after the interview
  • Photo by Hiroaki Yamaguchi

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