It's been a while since WBC Atomweight champion Momo Koseki (20-2-1, 7) had a challenger worth considering as a serious threat. She has effectively put the division on shut down at times since claiming the title way back in August 2008 with a controversial 2nd round KO against Winyu Paradorn Gym, a win that saw her avenge a previous early career defeat.
Since beating Winyu we've seen Koseki defend her title an impressive 15 times.
On paper that sounds like an amazing achievement, not many fighters defend titles 15 times. Sadly however things aren't as impressive when you look beneath the numbers and you look at Koseki's competition which has, at times, been dire.
Koseki's fans will, or at least should, point out that she has good defences such as wins over Nao Ikeyama, Teeraporn Pannimit, Masae Akitaya and Saemi Hanagata, but unfortunately those 4 defenses have been the only 4 that really stand out. The most recent of which came way back in December 2012 when she out pointed Saemi Hanagata in a very competitive bout.
Since the Hanagata bout we've seen Koseki notch up 6 defenses though they've been uninspiring to say the least. In total those 6 challengers had a combined record of 35-14-3 entering their bouts with Koseki, whilst the most recent challenger, Asiah Alico, having no right to compete in a world title bout. In fact Alico's 5-4 (4) record entering her bout with Koseki had featured 4 stoppage losses in her previous 5 bouts and she had never beaten a fighter with a winning record.
Unfortunately for Koseki, and in defense of the champion, she hasn't been in a division with many notable challengers. The Atomweight division, or the 102lb weight class, is incredibly thin and Koseki's main rival for much of her reign has been her friend, and current WBA champion, Ayaka Miyao. With so few challengers she has done what she can to get opponents in the ring and has been a relatively busy champion with 15 defenses in less than 7 years.
Now however the rough and tumble champion appears to have a serious threat coming for her. For the first time in years we have someone who appears to be confident of toppling Koseki and appears to have the drive and desire to challenge the champion.
That fighter is the hard hitting unbeaten Australian Louisa “Bang Bang” Hawton (5-0, 3).
Hawton only picked combat sports a few years ago when she was dragged to a local martial arts gym following a career as a skateboarder. It wasn't long until she was competing in Muay Thai and then amateur boxing.
Having realised she had real ability in boxing she quickly turned to the professional ranks last year and in March she made her debut, defeating Thailand's Nongaen Phosuwan via a shut out in 4 rounds. A rematch in Thailand saw Hawton stopping Nongaen in the second round, of a bout not listed on boxrec.
Hawton recorded her first stoppage, as per boxrec, with a dominant display against Wiilaiwan Namuangchan, who was down 3 times in 109 seconds as the Australian made a real statement with a blow out.
In her final bout of 2014 Hawton dominated another Thai opponent, Muay Thai fighter Payayong Sueksasongkro who was given counts in rounds 3 and 4, though managed to just survive the 4 round schedule. It was another dominant display from the fast rising Australian who was beginning to look the part, albeit against limited opponents.
To begin 2015 Hawton and her team wanted to make a statement. To do this they targeted a former Koseki foe, Angor Onesongchaigym.
Angor had fought Koseki late last year and was stopped by the referee in the 9th round of that bout. Koseki had dominated and been in clear control of the Thai but had still taken 9 rounds to to force the stoppage from referee Yuji Fukuchi. Obviously for Hawton the target was to stop Angor in fewer rounds and make a statement with a win quicker than the champion. Hawton did just that forcing Angor to retire on her stool at the end of round 4.
Now, under the guidance of trainer Justin Footit, Hawton has eyes on the gold and green belt held by Koseki. Justin, a former trainer at the Teiken Gym, says he knows that beating Koseki in Japan is a “big task” but one he seems his confident his charge can do, even if she is inexperienced. In fact if anything Justin believes her inexperience is an advantage with the belief being that she will be underestimated ahead of a title challenge.
From the footage we've been lucky enough to see Hawton looks like a real threat to any of the Atomweights. She is a sharp and clean puncher with sensational ability, frightening speed and alarming accuracy. All of which will give her a real chance if she is to fight Koseki, or one of the other title holders such as WBO champion Nao Ikeyama (15-3-1, 4) or WBA champion Ayaka Miyao (19-5-1, 4).
From what we understand Koseki will need to fight a mandatory later this year, likely to be against Nora Cardoza of Mexico, and then the path is clear for a possible show down against the long reigning champion and the unbeaten Australian. If that happens we may well see Koseki given her first really tough bout since her contest with Hanagata, and possibly even her first loss since she she was narrowly beaten by Samson Tor Buamas back in November 2007.
Images courtesy of:
Top-http://aokiboxing.com (Koseki posing with WBC title)
Bottom-Kim Johnson (Hawton landing a right on Wiilaiwan Namuangchan)
Also a HUGE thank you to Justin Footit for the information he provided on Lulu, including the bout that isn't included on her boxrec record.
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