Female boxing is on the rise, and whilst plenty of fans haven't yet been won over by it there is a clear growth in the attention it's getting. This past weekend we aw a great example of that, with Katie Taylor and Delfine Persoon having a brilliant 10 round unification bout at Madison Square Garden.
Today we saw another big announcement for female boxing, with a press conference being held to announce a WBA female Flyweight title bout between Naoko Fujioka (18-2, 7) [藤岡 奈穂子] and Tenkai Tsunami (26-12, 15) [天海 ツナミ].
The two fighters have long been connected with a potential bout, with Tsunami being the mandatory when Fujioka was the WBO female Light Flyweight champion. Fujioka chose to vacate that title in her pursuit to become a 5-weight champion, which she did by winning the WBA Flyweight crown, and now we see Tsunami move up to challenge Fujioka at 112lbs.
The press was late to start, due to Fujioka being late, and despite only Tsunami being there to begin with, she did reveal she has changed plans due to this bout. She's cancelled a previously planned defense of her title in Mexico, choosing to vacate her title for this show down, and looked really excited to be finally facing Fujioka.
Fujioka apologised for being 40 minutes late to the press conference and seemed really excited to face Tsunami in what looks like one of her toughest bouts to date, that's despite the fact she's won world titles in 5 weight classes and faced a who's who of female boxing.
The bout will take place on July 12th at the Korakuen Hall, and will headline A Sign Bee 21, which will also feature the brilliant match up between Andy Hiraoka (13-0, 9) [平岡アンディ] and Akihiro Kondo (31-8-1, 18) [近藤 明広].
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Over the last couple of hours we have looked at some individual award winners at today's Japanese boxing awards, held in the amazing Tokyo Dome Hotel. For those who just want to see the winners in a list here we go:
The MVP was:
Naoya Inoue (17-0, 15) [井上 尚弥]
The Skills Award was won by:
Kosei Tanaka (12-0, 7) [田中恒成]
The KO Award was won by:
Naoya Inoue (17-0, 15) [井上 尚弥]
Special Award was won by:
Masayuki Ito (25-1-1, 13) [伊藤 雅雪]
The Effort Award was won by:
Masayoshi Nakatani (18-0, 12) [中谷正義]
The Newcomer Award was won by:
Kazuto Takesako (10-0, 10) [竹迫司登]
The Best World title Fight:
Sho Kimura [木村翔] Vs Kosei Tanaka [田中恒成]
The Best Japanese Domestic fight:
Yusaku Kuga [久我勇作] Vs Shingo Wake [和氣 慎吾]
Female fighter of the year was:
Tenkai Tsunami (26-12, 15) [天海 ツナミ]
Female Fight of the Year was:
Kayoko Ebata [江畑佳代子] Vs Etsuko Tada [多田悦子]
Trainer of the Year was:
Shingo Inoue [井上真吾]
A Special Achievement Award was won by:
Shinsuke Yamanaka [山中慎介]
Special Prizes were given to:
Toshiyuki Igarashi [五十嵐 俊幸]
Naoko Shibata [柴田 直子]
Nana Yoshikawa [好川 菜々]
Ryuya Yamanaka [山中 竜也]
And Momo Koseki [小関 桃]
A social Contribution prize was given too:
Naoko Fujioka (17-2, 7) [藤岡 奈穂子]
JBC Service Achievements were won by
Akira Tabata, who has served as a timekeeper, and Hiroyuki Tokuzaki, a referee who sadly passed away in October.
Several other officials earned awards for their roles in the sport as well, as did Atsushi Sato, a producer at WOWOW.
It's also worth noting that every male fighter who held a world title at some point during the year won an Outstanding Fighter Award, this is a normal thing to recognise all champions. We won't list them all here though they obviously included Kenshiro [拳四朗] and Hiroto Kyoguchi [京口 紘人] among others.
As for amateur awards, the best male fighter was:
Daisuke Narimatsu [成松大介]
and the best female fighter was:
Tsukimi Namiki [並木月海]
(Image courtesy of Boxingnews.jp)
On January 10th the JBC, along with members of the Tokyo Boxing Press, announced the nominations for the 2018 Japanese boxing awards.
The highest award is the Best Fighter, or MVP, award. The nominations for this award are:
Naoya Inoue (17-0, 15) [井上 尚弥] - The current WBA "regular" Bantamweight champion
Kosei Tanaka (12-0, 7) [田中恒成] - The current WBO Flyweight champion
Kenshiro (15-0, 8) [拳四朗] - The current WBC Flyweight champion
and Masayuki Ito (25-1-1, 13) [伊藤 雅雪] - The current WBO Super Featherweight champion
The Skills Award again includes Kenshiro and Tanaka but also:
Tomoki Kameda (36-2, 20) [亀田和毅] - The current WBC "interim" Super Bantamweight champion
Hiroto Kyoguchi (12-0, 9) [京口 紘人] - The current WBC Light Flyweight champion
and Jorge Linares (45-4, 28)
The Special award sees Ito and Tanaka being nominated
The KO award see's Naoya Inoue being joined by:
Satoshi Shimizu (8-0, 8) [清水 聡] - The current OPBF Featherweight champion
and Kazuto Takesako (10-0, 10) [竹迫司登] - The current Japanese Middleweight champion
The Newcomer award has seen a nice number of candidates, the nominees here are, Takesako along with:
Tsubasa Koura (14-0, 9) [小浦 翼] - The current OPBF Minimumweight champion
Hiroaki Teshigawara (18-2-2, 11) [勅使河原 弘晶] - The current OPBF Super Bantamweight champion
Shuichiro Yoshino (9-0, 7) [吉野 修一郎] - The current Japanese Lightweight champion
Ryota Yada (18-4, 15) [矢田良太] - The current Japanese Welterweight champion
The "strive", which appears to be an achievement type of award, has seen the following nominations:
Masayoshi Nakatani (18-0, 12) [中谷正義] - The current OPBF Lightweight champion
Valentine Hosokawa (24-6-3, 11) [細川バレンタイン] - The current Japanese Light Welterweight champion
Masayuki Kuroda (30-7-3, 16) [黒田 雅之] - The former Japanese Flyweight champion
and Tetsuya Hisada (33-9-2, 19) [久田 哲也] - The former Japanese Light Flyweight champion
The best fight, at world level has seen 3 bouts being nominated:
Sho Kimura [木村翔] Vs Kosei Tanaka [田中恒成] - WBO Flyweight title fight
Jorge Linares Vs Vasyl Lomachneko - WBA "super" Lightweight title fight
and Naoya Inoue [井上 尚弥] Vs Juan Carlos Payano - WBA "Regular" Bantamweight title fight
The best fight that wasn't at world level has 4 nominations:
Yusaku Kuga [久我勇作] Vs Shingo Wake [和氣 慎吾] - Japanese Super Bantamweight title fight
Valentine Hosokawa [細川バレンタイン] Vs Vladimir Baez - Japanese Light Welterweight title fight
Hironori Mishiro [三代大訓] Vs Masaru Sueyoshi [末吉 大] - OPBF / JBA Super Featherweight unification bout
Hikaru Nishida [西田 光] vs Kazuto Takesako [竹迫司登] - Japanese Middleweight title fight
The female Fighter of the Year nominations are:
Tenkai Tsunami (26-12, 15) [天海 ツナミ] - The current WBO female Light Welterweight champion
Etsuko Tada (18-3-2, 5) [多田悦子] - The current WBO female Minimumweight champion
Naoko Fujioka (18-2, 7) [藤岡 奈穂子] - The current WBA female Flyweight champion
The female Fight of the Year nominations were:
Tenkai Tsunami [天海 ツナミ] Vs Chaoz Minowa [チャオズ箕輪]- WBO female Light Flyweight title fight
Nao Ikeyama [池山直] Vs Mika Iwakawa [岩川美花] - WBO Atomweight title fight
Naoko Fujioka [藤岡 奈穂子] Vs Irma Sanchez - WBA female Flyweight title fight
Kayoko Ebata [江畑佳代子] Vs Etsuko Tada [多田悦子] - WBO female Minimumweight title fight
Voting will take place in January with the winners being awarded at a ceremony on February 8th.
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.
In Okinawa tomorrow fight fans will be able to see Tenkai Tsunami (25-12, 14) [天海 ツナミ] make her first defense of the WBO female Light Flyweight title as she takes on Filipino challenger Gretchen Abaniel (18-9, 6). Today the two women took part in their weight in for the contest, and both fighters made weight for the bout.
On the scales the defending champion, now enjoying her second reign as a world champion, was bang on the limit of 108lbs and looked full of excitement and confidence. She spoke about being motivated about fighting back in Okinawa, for the first time in almost a decade and that she was wanting to put on a fun fight for the crowd. She also stated that whilst she does respect the speed of Abaniel she is confident of scoring a KO win over the Filipino challenger.
Abaniel, who was also on the limit of 108lbs, stated that she has had 3 months of training for the bout and that she respects the champion but is also aiming to score a stoppage. If she can manage to stop Tsunami, who has never been stopped in her 37 fight career, it would be a huge statement from Abaniel and show that a move to the Light Flyweight division is something that she really should have done a few years ago. Sadly though Abaniel has been picking up losses at Atomweight and Minimumweight, where she has lost in numerous world title bouts..
Related - Veteran Tsunami seeks first defense, faces Abaniel!
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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