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Boxing Results: Masayoshi Nakatani destoys Felix Verdejo

Felix Verdejo

By Sean Jones: Masayoshi Nakatani (19-1, 13 KOs) did a number on the one time highly hyped lightweight Felix Verdejo (27-2, 17 KOs) in knocking him out in the ninth round on Saturday night in ‘The Bubble’ at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada.

If Top Rank is going to continue to package Masayoshi Nakatani on Shakur Stevenson cards, they might want to have them switch places.

Nakatani is a far more exciting fighter to watch than Stevenson. In the main event, Shakur (15-0, 8 KOs) put the boxing fans asleep with his boring 10 round decision over Toka Kahn Clary.

Nakatani stole the show

The Stevenson – Clary fight spoiled what was a great undercard with excellent knockouts by Top Rank’s blue-chip prospects Robeisy Ramirez and Edger Berlanga.

The referee stopped the fight at 1:45 after Nakatani poleaxed Verdejo with a right to the head that planted him face-first on the canvas.

With the first knockdown in the ninth, Nakatani hit Verdejo with a stiff left jab that caught him coming forward. The jab was a simple one and not hard, but Verdejo walked into it and that made it more powerful.

When Verdejo got back up, he wasn’t in the position to defend himself when the action resumed right away.

Nakatani lunged forward connected with a beautiful right hand to the head of Verdejo that sent him down face-first on the canvas, and that was all she wrote.

The referee wasn’t going to even bother giving a count with Verdejo out cold.

At the time of the stoppage in the ninth, Verdejo was head on the scorecards by the following scores:

  • 78-72
  • 78-72
  • 77-74

With only one round to go for this 10-round scheduled fight, Nakatani was in the position where he absolutely needed a knockout for him to get the victory.

Teofimo Lopez on Nakatani’s target list

Nakatani, 31, says what made him continue to fight hard was his desire to get a rematch with IBF/WBA/WBC/WBO lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez, who beat him by a wide 12 round unanimous decision last year in July 2019 in Oxon Hill, Maryland.

Felix Verdejo

Lopez admits freely that Nakatani, 5’11”, gave him one of the toughest fights of his career with his height and reach. Lopez couldn’t generate as much power punching up at Nakatani’s head, and he had a hard time closing the distance.

Nakatani kept nailing him with his jab that he used almost like a stick to keep the 5’8″ Teofimo from getting near him.

“I fought [Teofimo] Lopez, and I wanted to fight him again, and that’s why I kept going,” Nakatani said after the contest. “I want to go for the knockout like I did today, and that’s going to be my style.”

“Throwing shots from the top didn’t work, and with the distance it was difficult, so I went from below to get the shots in,” said Nakatani about his win over Verdejo.

 

The ESPN commentators were in a state of shock, as they’d been pouring compliments over the head of Verdejo the entire fight, saying how great he was and this and that.

When they saw Nakatani put Verdejo down twice in the ninth, the compliments from the ESPN talking heads dried up right away like an oil well that had stopped producing the bubbling crude.

It was by no means easy for #14 WBO 135-lb contender Nakatani to get the victory, as he had to climb off the deck in the first and fourth rounds before coming on late to drop the 27-year-old Verdejo twice in the ninth round.

After the second knockdown, Verdejo was officially done for the night, as he was down on the canvas out cold.

Verdejo fought well early

Things looked bad for the 31-year-old Nakatani going into the second half of the fight, given that he’d already been dropped twice by Verdejo, and he didn’t look like he was going to be able to pull through it.

In the seventh round, Nakatani changed things abruptly when he caught the overconfident Verdejo with a right to the head that buzzed him badly. From there, Verdejo was in full retreat mode. He wasn’t even trying to disguise the fact that he was badly hurt.

Nakatani was like a shark that smelled blood in the water, and he stopped boxing and went after Verdejo with a whole different style of fighting. Before hurting Verdejo, Nakatani was boxing him from the outside, using his jab and struggling.

Once Nakatani hurt Verdejo, he transformed himself and fought like a combination of Naoya Inoue and Kostya Tszyu. he was lighting Verdejo like a Christmas treat with hooks to the body and head. Nakatani stopped throwing jabs and overhand shots and focused more on hooks.

He was ripping into Verdejo like a shark during feeding time, and it was brutal to watch. It was surprising that Verdeko made it out of the eighth round, as he was taking a beating.

Interestingly, Verdejo still had enough power to stun Nakatani with a shot at one point that caused his right leg to buckle momentarily. However, when Verdejo tried to capitalize on it, Nakatani fired back with a right hand that made him think twice about going on the attack.

What will Top Rank do with Verdejo?

The loss for Verdejo snapped his four-fight winning streak that extended from November 2018. Verdejo was knocked out in the tenth round by Antonio Lozado Torrest in 2018 in a shock defeat, which came about after he gassed in the later rounds.

Supposedly, Verdejo had been working on his stamina and had improved in that area, but obviously, that wasn’t the case because he gassed out against Nakatani. It was like watching a replay of Verdejo’s fight against Torres because he faded in the same way.

Top Rank boss Bob Arum hasn’t said anything yet about what he plans on doing with Verdejo.

Should Top Rank keep Verdejo or cut him loose? If they’re paying Verdejo a lot of money, it might be difficult to continue to justify the expenditure given that he’s shown that he’s not capable of beating gatekeeper level fighters.

Of course, Arum could set up a rematch, but that won’t help Nakatani. He needs to move forward, and not to continue waste time facing a guy that has failed to live up to the big expectations that Top Rank had for him.

 




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