Earlier today fight fans in Korea saw Eun Hye Lee (10-1, 4) [이은혜] successfully defend her WIBA Flyweight title, as she out boxed, and out fought, Filipino veteran Jujeath Nagaowa (13-18-1, 8) en route to claiming a 10 round decision.
The talented Korean, who is a former WBO female Light Flyweigth champion, had been involved in a number of Korean news stories in the build up to the fight, following sponsorship issues when she was WBO champion, but it seems those issues are well and truly behind her, with todays performance being a commanding one.
The Korean used her skills to make the gutsy, but limited, Nagaowa looked second best through the encounter with the Korean really showing just how good she is.
Despite her clear talent the Korean is still struggling to draw and audience. Whilst defending a WIBA title isn't too expensive in terms of financing, a top female title does come at a price. That will either force Lee to leave Korea, as she did in her sole loss which was a very controversial one in Japan, or struggle again with the finances of boxing.
For Nagaowa the bout again proved that whilst she was limited she could always be relied on to bring action and was trying to force her pressure on the Korean throiugh out the bout.
The show wasn't all about Lee, as there was two other title bouts on the show. In one of those Nam Joon Lee (10-5-3, 4) [이남준] out pointed Jelbirt Gomera (12-3, 6) for the WBA Asia Featherweight title whilst Filipino Kim Actub (5-8-1, 4) stopping a Korean foe for the WIBA International Super Bantamweight title.
Last November we saw talented Korean Eun Hye Lee (9-1, 4) [이은혜] claim the WIBA Flyweight title, as she defeated Thai visitor Nongnun Mor Krungthepthonburi in 2 rounds. Sadly since winning the title Lee has been inactive, however we have been informed that she will actually be returning to the ring, on a KBC show, on June 24th as she defends her title for the first time.
The talented Korean will be up against Filipino veteran Jujeath Nagaowa (13-17-1, 8), who ends a run of over a year of inactivity.
On paper the bout does look to be a mismatch, especially with Nagaowa having lost 6 of her last 7, however the Filipino has proven that she can be competitive at world level and has scored a win over Saemi Hanagata, ran Ju Hee Kim very close, and has shard the ring with the likes of Shindo Go, Louisa Hawton, Momo Koseki, Naoko Ikeyama and Su Yun Hong, a real who's who of female boxing at the lower weights. Lee is more talented, and more proven, but we suspect she will have to work hard for the win here.
The under-card for this show will feature a regional title bout, for a WBA Asia title according to the KBC, which will see Nam Joon Lee (9-5-3, 4) [이남준] battling against Jelbirt Gomera (12-2, 6). This Featherweight bout is the biggest bout of Lee's career and will see him looking to build on a 3 fight unbeaten run, that actually dates back more than 4 years, an immediately build on a big win in January over Sa Myung Noh. As for Gomera the bout follows a recent loss to Hidenori Otake in an OPBF Super Bantamweight title bout.
The card will feature 3 other 10 rounders in what looks to be a very stacked card, for a Korean show, including two Korean title bouts.
For fans interested, the card will be shown on MBC Sports +.
Earlier today fans in Korea saw local fighter Eun Hye Lee (9-1, 4) [이은혜] successfully bounce back from her controverial October loss to Nana Yoshikawa and claim the WIBA Flyweight title, with a dominant victory over the horribly over-matched Nongnun Mor Krungthepthonburi (5-4-1).
The Korean fighter, who is a former world champion at 108lbs, looked too good from the opening seconds. The Thai was too slow, too clumsy and too weak to pose a test and in round 2 Hye closed the show, stoping Nongnun to claim the WIBA title and become a 2-weight champion.
On paper this was a mismatch and it showed as the Korean, who is genuinely world class, did as she pleased against an opponent who really shouldn't have been sanctioned to fight in such a contest. Although the Thai was unbeaten in he last 4 bouts she hadn't scored a win of any note and had bever had a recorded bout at Flyweight. In fact her 5 wins had come against opponents with a combined 1-1 record.
For Lee the future needs to see her in more interesting, testing and notable bouts, potentially a rematch with Yoshikawa or another opponent of some intrigue. She is talented but lacks the financial backing she needs to be a star in Korea, and given that she is now 33 she doesn't really have time to waste in bouts like this. Hopefully the WIBA title will help her get fights, but the WBO female Light Flyweight title did seem to be a curse when she held it, with financial and injury issues stopping her from defendign that belt before finally out growing the division.
(Image courtesy of Ryan Wissow)
On Sunday Japanese fans will get the chance to see a WBO female Flyweight title bout between unbeaten Korean Eun Hye Lee (8-0, 3) [이은혜] and Japan's once beaten Nana Yoshikawa (6-1, 4) [好川 菜々]. Today, ahead of that bout, the two women took part in their public training session and both looked sharp, well trained and ready for action.
Yoshikawa stated that her condition was perfect for the fight, and that she's been able to make the weight whilst still eating. Unlike many fighters when they have to make weight she seemed incredibly happy, relaxed and not feeling the effects of needing to shed weight.
She's stated that she's had a great training camp, one that followed on from an exceptional one last year in Mexico, and it's clear that's she's full of confidence for what will be a career defining fight. It is however clear that this will be a must win for the Japanese fighter who turned professional at an advanced age with the intention of becoming a world champion. If she fails she may well kick herself for staying amateur so long and dominating the amateur scene in Japan, rather than making a bigger mark on the professional scene.
As well as being confident she was very complimentary to Lee and it seems the two fighters have struck up a good friendship.
Of course Yoshikawa won't be the only one in the ring and Lee, who is making her first visit to Japan, is also full of confidence and seemed to suggest that she feels she'll have to win clearly and in a definite way to get the decision in Japan. Despite that she does seem to have a lot of respect for Yoshikawa and has scouted her, becoming aware of her long straight right hand.
The Korean, a former WBO female Light Flyweight champion, enters her foreign bout on foreign soil with an unbeaten record and knows what it's like to be a world champion. Sadly though she has been inactive recently and her career has faltered as a lack of funds prevented her from defending her title, later resulting in her needing to give it up.
As for the training it wasn't the most interesting session, despite both fighters sharing the session together. Yoshikawa did some mitt work and some shadow boxing, doing only a few rounds of work for the camera whilst working up a sweat but not pushing her body too hard, whilst Lee did a couple of rounds of shadow boxing. Neither game much away in regards to their gameplan but it's clear that both are highly skilled fighters who will be looking at Sunday's bout as one of, if not the, biggest of their career so far.
Lee and Yoshikawa trade blows for WBO crown
(Images courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Later this month we will see former WBO female Light Flyweight champion Eun Hye Lee (8-0, 3) [이은혜] battle against Nana Yoshikawa (6-1, 4) [好川 菜々] for the vacant WBO female Flyweight title. The bout sees Lee return to the ring after a thoroughly frustrating year in which she was unable to defend the Light Flyweight title, and was later forced to give the belt up, after seeing multiple dates with Louisa Hawton fall through.
Yesterday she explained, in a Korean interview, that she was unable to secure the sponsorship she needed to defend the title and described the situation as "frustrating", something we'd all understand. Due to the lack of funds she was forced to give up the title but was later offered a bout at Flyweight against Yoshikawa to become a 2-weight champion.
Although frustrated it appears that the fighter has used the last few months to focus on her future bout and is said to have been training with a high intensity looking to reclaim a world title. According to a Korean source that training has featured 8 hours of training a day and sparring with men as she's done all she can to prepare for the contest, which could help revitalise her stalling career.
Ahead of the bout the fighter has been featured in a small YTN segment showing her training and preparing for the bout, which really could be a career defining fight, though one that further shows why boxing is failing in Korea. A lack of money, a problem with sponsors and an inability to draw funds to bring quality opponents over. There are some promotions who have found ways around that, but on the whole boxing needs a big cash injection to really re-grow in a country that was once of the sport's major players.
Below we have included Lee's title win from last year and the YTN segment on her.
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