Earlier today Japanese sources broke the news that WBO Atomweight champion Nao Ikeyama (18-3-1, 5) [池山直] would be returning to the ring on July 11th to defense her title against former challenger Saemi Hanagata (13-6-2, 7) [花形 冴美], with the two women meeting in a rematch following a split decision draw last June.
Their first bout was a thrilling contest with back and forth action that saw both fighters impress the judges, with the scores being 96-94, 95-95 and 94-96. The contest was one where both fighters could have felt like they deserved the win, and few would have argued had the decision not been a draw.
Aged 47 Ikeyama is the oldest world champion in Japanese boxing history and she will be looking to extend her record, and secure her 6th defense, which would likely see her passing her 48th birthday as a champion. She comes into the bout following a surprise stoppage win over Ayaka Miyao, though in fairness Miyao did suffer a bad leg injury in that bout rather than actually being stopped due to the punches of Ikeyama.
The exciting Hanagata will be looking to secure a world title in her fourt bout at this level, following a loss to Momo Koseki in 2012, razor thin loss in 2015 to Naoko Shibata and the draw last year to Ikeyama. Although a talented fighter she has got a record that is patchy, but she has mixed with good company and has lost to the likes of Koseki, Kumiko Seeser Ikehara and Shibata.
At the time of writing this bout is pencilled in as the main event of Dangan 187 and will take place at the Korakuen Hall.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
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