Whilst male boxing in Asia, across Asia, has been on a high in 2019 female boxing really hasn't been. In fact almost all the top female names in the sport only fought once. The likes Naoko Fujioka, Etsuko Tada, Hyun Mi Choi, Saemi Hanagata, Yuki Kuroki and Kasumi Saeki had a year where they were so inactive that we were assuming missing posters were sent out across Asia, along with milk cartons trying to find the fighters.
The lack of activity for so many meant that, in the end, the award here was almost given by default to Tenkai Tsunami.
The 35 year old was inactive for the first 6 months of the year herself, before moving up in weight and fighting Naoko Fujioka in July for the WBA female Flyweight title. The bout was highly anticipated and lived up to the expectations, but resulted in an inconclusive outcome, with the two fighting to a draw. Had a rematch happened later in the year, that winner would have been the one who took this award.
Sadly the draw didn't have an immediate rematch, with Fujioka not fighting in the remainder of the year. Tsunami however returned to the ring 5 months later, squeezing in her second fight of the year. In that bout she dropped back down to her natural weight and stopped Filipino fighter Jessebelle Pagaduan to retain the WBO female Light Flyweight title.
Not only did Tsunami stop Pagaduan but with that bout she also brought boxing back to Kimotsuki, in Kagoshima. According to boxrec that was the first event there. It was also, according to Japanese sources, the first world title fight in Kagoshima in 43 years!
It's a shame that 2019 was the year where female boxing in Asia seem to go off the boil, just as globally it's began to get attention with the likes of Cecilia Braekhus, Katie Taylor, Claressa Shields and Amanda Serrano leading the charge in the west. Fingers crossed 2020 is a better year for female boxing throughout Asia.
Although Tsunami took the honour, there is a need to add that Miyo Yoshida is an honourable mention. She squeezed 3 fights in to the year, won the WBO female Super Flyweight title in the middle of the year, beating Casey Morton, and defended it against Li Ping Shi. An impressive year though we feel Tsunami's draw with Fujioka is actually a more valuable result than Yoshida's wins. We do however have our fingers crossed that Yoshida can build on her success in 2020.
It's a shame to say that female boxing in Asia had a pretty forgetable year, afterall we've seen so much attention given to female fighters in the west thanks to the likes of Katie Taylor and Claressa Shields. In Asia many of the premier female fighters, like Naoko Fujioka, Cai Zong Ju, Firuza Sharipova and Hyun Mi Choi fought only once.
There were exceptions to that rule, but many of those scored only a single win of note. The one major exception was Tenkai Tsunami [天海 ツナミ], who became a 2-weight world champion in March, when she stopped the previously unbeaten and highly touted Chaoz Minowa, to claim the WBO female Light Flyweight title. A title she defended against veteran Gretchen Abaniel in July, stopping Abaniel in 4 rounds.
The 34 year old Tsunami not only gave Minowa her first defeat, which was followed 8 months later by Minowa losing a decision to Ibeth Zamora Silva, but was just the second person to stop Abaniel, who's only other stoppage loss came back in 2011 to Katie Gutierrez.
It's a shame that Asian boxing didn't have a real standout female fighter at the top this year, but fingers crossed 2019 will be a better year, especially given the fact that there so many interesting female fights out there at the lower weights, which are packed with Asian female fighters.
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