WBO Congress 2023, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic: Day Two

The most exciting piece of news from a personal standpoint on day two of the 36th WBO Congress was that ProBox TV spoke exclusively to WBO super flyweight world champion Junto Nakatani. 

It was much more of a business affair after an easy opening day from Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. 

We attended the referee dynamics seminar, where referee Steve Willis was going through a number of foul situations, holding, fighters slipping or falling to the ground in a life-size ring with former Dominican world title challenger Norbelto Jimenez and former Puerto Rican world champion Ivan Calderon assisting. A WBO representative would interject to make him aware of any mistake, but to a very minor degree. It was fascinating to see a referee become the student. 

Shortly after the seminar it was where we spoke with Nakatani. We asked him about his time in Punta Cana to begin, he was very approachable and in high spirits. It is astonishing that the Japanese star ever made flyweight. 

It was great to get a chance to get some exclusive time with a Japanese fighter, something that has always eluded me since covering boxing. Nakatani was quite the Japanese debut. 

We discussed the breakout of Japanese boxing in the west and his highlight reel knockout win over Andrew Moloney this past May where he became a two-weight world champion. The interview only lasted seven minutes, but we spoke with him via his translator again after the camera stopped recording. Like I said he was very approachable and open to talk with. However, the Jesse Rodriguez Vs Sunny Edwards prediction I was longing for didn’t quite take off but a great chat nonetheless. 

The evening’s cocktail drinks saw two-weight undisputed champion Claressa Shields be honoured with a painting and a gold plated plaque from the WBO for the award of Special Recognition for her historic achievements. 

The night’s drinks were this time hosted by Mexican music group the Mariachis. The evening saw the stars pack in who danced the night away in Mexican themed surroundings. Emanuel Navarrete and Oscar Valdez were sharing conversation after their recent world title fight as the photo flashes went off. Puerto Rican boxing legend Miguel Cotto joined the party too.

A weigh-in preceded the drinks party. Fighters Kaipo Gallegos and Diomedez Ramirezn nearly came to blows as they faced off, which did bring a smile. The SHUAN Boxing promoted event sees eight fights take place at the convention where WBO regional and youth titles will be on the line in all fights.