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3 Punch Combo: Scoping Out Teofimo vs Nakatani, Ajagba vs Demirezen and More

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  • 3 Punch Combo: Scoping Out Teofimo vs Nakatani, Ajagba vs Demirezen and More

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    By Matt Andrzejewski

    THREE PUNCH COMBO -- Boxing on ESPN+ returns this Friday with a card from the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, MD headlined by the fast-rising lightweight sensation Teofimo Lopez (13-0, 11 KO’s). Lopez will be facing the undefeated Masayoshi Nakatani (18-0, 12 KO’s) of Japan in a final IBF eliminator to become the mandatory challenger for champion Richard Commey (29-2, 26 KO’s). While Lopez is a known commodity to most boxing fans, the same cannot be said of Nakatani. So just who is this unheralded fighter from Japan and does he pose any threat to Lopez?

    Nakatani, 30, turned pro in 2011 after an amateur career that by most accounts consisted of somewhere between 50 and 60 bouts. As a pro, he has never fought more than three times a year and never outside of Japan, but by managing to stay undefeated he has crept into the Top 15 rankings of three of the four major sanctioning bodies in the lightweight division.

    Looking closer Nakatani’s resume, the overall level of his competition is highly questionable. Probably his best win was in his eighth pro fight when he won a 12-round unanimous decision against Ricky Sismundo. Sismundo has sprung some surprises in the past and as a matter of fact gave undefeated rising contender Maxim Dadashev a scare earlier this year, but this is the same Ricky Sismundo who was defeated by Ruslan Madiyev last week in California, bringing his record to 35-14-3.

    Other than Sismundo, the names on Nakatani’s resume are hardly recognizable.

    Nakatani, an orthodox fighter, is tall for the lightweight division standing nearly six feet in height. As such, he likes to work behind the left jab. However, that jab is not very sharp or powerful, but used as more of a range finder and to set up his right hand. Sometimes he will follow the right with a left hook but his primary offense is the left jab followed by the right.

    Nakatani is not that athletic or quick inside the ring. His hand speed is below average for the division. He is also not a powerful or heavy handed puncher. The knockouts are more from his level of competition than anything else.

    Here are a few other notes on Nakatani based on my observations: He does not like to fight on the inside and will initiate clinches when his opponent closes the distance. And he has a habit of trying to avoid punches with his legsm often times pulling straight back with his hands down. He has gotten clipped quite a few times but fortunately for him those fighters that have done so have not possessed big punching power.

    I actually do think Nakatani is the strongest opponent for Lopez to date. That being said, however, I do not think he will give Lopez much trouble. Teofimo may get frustrated some by Nakatani’s constant clinching on the inside, and he may get hit with a few range finding jabs, but expect another Lopez knockout here sometime in the first half of the fight.

    Under The Radar Fight

    The attention of the boxing world this week is going to be focused on the big welterweight pay-per-view title fight between Manny Pacquiao (61-7-2, 39 KO’s) and Keith Thurman (29-0, 22 KO’s). Also on the show is an intriguing heavyweight fight that is falling deep under the radar between a pair of 2016 Olympians in Efe Ajagba (10-0, 9 KO’s) and Ali Eren Demirezen (11-0, 10 KO’s).

    Ajagba, 25, represented his native country of Nigeria in the Super Heavyweight division of the 2016 Olympics where he lost to Ivan Dychko in the quarterfinals. Since turning pro, he has really turned heads, building a reputation as a fearsome puncher.

    Ajagba is a big imposing heavyweight. He stands 6’5” tall and possesses a massive 85-inch reach. Best described as an aggressive boxer puncher, he will press the action, often times behind a very stiff and powerful left jab from the orthodox stance. Very athletic for a man his size, he possesses above average hand speed for the heavyweight division. His best trait is his power; he possesses legitimate one punch knockout power in both fists. The natural tools are all there for Ajagba to potentially one day be a dominant force in the division.

    But there are things Ajagba needs to work on, namely his defense. Right now, he lacks any sort of head movement and often poses in front of his opponents after punching them to admire his work. He hasn’t paid yet for his lack of attention to defense but that may change as his competition rises.

    Demirezen, 29, represented Turkey in the Super Heavyweight division of the 2016 Olympics where he lost to Filip Hrgovic in his opening fight. Since turning pro he hasn’t had much fanfare, but has amassed quite an impressive early pro record while fighting mostly in Germany.

    Though he may not have the imposing physique of Ajagba, Demirezen possesses some solid skills as well as some surprising athleticism. As a matter of fact, I’d go so far as to call him a poor man’s version of Andy Ruiz Jr.

    Demirezen will look to apply pressure behind the left jab and work combinations with his quick hands behind that jab. He does not really possess one-punch power but is heavy handed and his punches can take a cumulative effect on his opponents. His best punch is a quick left hook to the body that he often lands with precision.

    If physiques won a boxing match, this would be no contest. But as we saw with Joshua-Ruiz, physiques don’t always win. Ajagba will be favored and rightfully so, but Demirezen can fight. This is an interesting fight between two undefeated heavyweight prospects who were recent Olympians and one that I am very much looking forward to on Saturday.

    Prospect Watch – Luis Arcon

    There is a lot that gets me excited about the future of the sport. Not only is the sport being broadcast like it never has before but we have many good prospects who are beaming with talent. So many good prospects, as a matter of fact, that some very talented young fighters are falling a bit under the radar. One such fighter is junior welterweight Luis Arcon who moved to 8-0 with 8 knockouts this past Friday with a third-round knockout of Mario Lozano.

    Like many of today’s top prospects, Arcon has a strong amateur pedigree. His amateur background includes representing his native country of Venezuela in the 2016 Olympics.

    Arcon, 27, turned pro in March of 2018 in Mexico. So far he has breezed through his competition though it must be noted that he hasn’t faced the toughest of challenges. But he has looked very good so far in his early pro career and has been flashing some incredible talent.

    Fighting from the orthodox stance, Arcon likes to work behind a well-timed and very powerful left jab. His footwork is excellent and he often positions himself at the right angles to land combinations behind that jab. He possesses very fast hands and can often fire off a volley of power shots before his opponent can react.

    And then there is the power. Perhaps this is what stands out most when watching Arcon on video. Granted, as noted earlier, the competition has not been the stiffest, but he has displayed devastating knockout power in both fists. His best punch is the left hook to the body which often has a paralyzing effect on his opposition.

    With his amateur background, Arcon is ready to take the next step in his career. His game is polished and he possesses massive power in both of his hands. He belongs on all top prospect lists and has a bright future in this sport.

    Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

  • #2
    Sooner or later Ajagba will be exposed.


    • #3
      Originally posted by Kid Blast View Post
      Sooner or later Ajagba will be exposed.
      I agree and it could be on Saturday. Demirezen can fight. He has a solid skill set and quick hands. If, and this is a pretty big if, his chin holds up early he could really push Ajagba. Sports betting, well mobile sports betting, recently opened up in nearby PA for me and I am watching for when the line comes out on this fight as I will probably have a small investment on Demirezen.


      • Kid Blast
        Kid Blast commented
        Editing a comment
        Demirezen first Turkish heavyweight of note since ____________ Please complete as this is a trivia question.

    • #4
      I dig your enthusiasm Matt. Wish I could say I shared it regarding rank and file boxers/boxing.


      • #5
        Originally posted by KO Digest View Post
        I dig your enthusiasm Matt. Wish I could say I shared it regarding rank and file boxers/boxing.
        Thanks Jeff, just love this sport.


        • #6
          Demirezen is coming in at +1000 in the book I use in PA. Its a good enough price for me to make the hour long drive to the PA border to get a little wager in. He is a live underdog against Ajagba. Of course, Demirezen could easily get starched early and that wouldn't surprise anyone. Ajagba is a massive puncher. But if Demirezen is able to hang tough early, he is good enough to pull a surprise and at the very least worth the 10-1 investment (albeit it won't be a very large investment).


          • #7
            Had to wait out the fight in London before I left the house so I missed all but the last four rounds. For a guy so heavily hyped, Ajagba looked really slow to me. The consensus of those sitting around me was that the scores were much too wide. You lost your bet Matt but had the right idea.


            • #8
              Originally posted by ArneK. View Post
              Had to wait out the fight in London before I left the house so I missed all but the last four rounds. For a guy so heavily hyped, Ajagba looked really slow to me. The consensus of those sitting around me was that the scores were much too wide. You lost your bet Matt but had the right idea.
              Demirezen hung in there and had his moments but Ajagba clearly won. A couple scores were too wide (99-91). I had to 97-93 myself of Ajagba. Good fight, was honestly hoping for a little more from Demirezen (think he could have let his hands go more in spots) but he showed he can fight. I think this is the type of fight that both these fighters will ultimately learn from and become better in the long haul.

              I made my trip to PA this morning. The first thing I learned is that the Geo tracking devices don't register when you go only a mile or so across the border. Not sure why that is the case but had to go down two exits before the tracking software correctly finally registered that I was in PA. I made straight up wagers on Price, Demirezen and Thurman. And spent a decent chunk of my bankroll on a three way parlay of Chisora, Whyte and Ugas (that ended up paying even money). When all was said and done ended up ahead $22. But of course figure in gas and tolls it essentially became a wash. Tough to come out ahead in the boxing investing game...