By Joe Koizumi
Photos: Naoki Fukuda
Should there be a next Japanese world champ, it might be a highly talented, 21-year-old Junto Nakatani (20-0, 15 KOs), 113.75, who battered former IBF 108-pound ruler, Filipino veteran Milan Melindo (37-5, 13 KOs), 114, to the punch and halted him with the referee’s intervention at 2:02 of the sixth round in a scheduled ten on Saturday in Tokyo, Japan.
WBC#3/WBO#3/WBA#2 Nakatani, a tall youngster at 5’7”, utilized his southpaw stance so effectively that he gave Melindo no openings to come close to him to mix it up all the way. Nakatani made good use of his advantageous height and reach, whipped the Filipino from all angles and had him at bay in the fatal sixth. Having absorbed much punishment, Melindo was saved from further punishment by the ref with the crowd’s great praise. Coached by Californian trainer Rudy Hernandez, Junto has shown his steady improvement.
In the semi-windup, WBO #3 bantam Ryo Akaho (35-2-2, 23 KOs), 122.5, whipped Korean champ Kyung-Min Kwon (7-6, 4 KOs), 122, almost at will and finally stopped him at 0:56 of the sixth round in a scheduled eight. Former world challenger twice, Akaho, usually a wild swinger, displayed a more technical performance and gave Kwon a sound boxing lesson. What Kwon showed at the Hall was only his durability and determination, as he took a bad shellacking for the ref’s well-received stoppage.