With so many fighters out there it can be easy to lose track of who's who and to know who is worth following, who is worth knowing about and who fans should pay a little bit more attention to ahead of their upcoming bouts.
That means that every week in 2020 we will pick one fighter in a notable bout and give them the "Who are you?" Treatment, trying to look at that fighter in detail ahead of their next bout.
This week we look at female hopeful Chaoz Minowa (6-2, 5) who looks to claim a "world" title at the third time of asking.
Minowa was once touted as a major force in women's boxing by those in Japan, though has yet to come close to reaching the lofty goals she set herself. Despite that her career isn't over and on January 18th she has the chance to get herself back on track when she takes on Kenia Enriquez in Jalisco. But who is Chaoz Minowa? And why should you care?
Born Ayako Minowa in Utsunomiya, Tochigi in 1987 Minowa was brought up in a gorgeous area of Japan best known for it's Gyoza, something she has associated herself with through her career.
Prior to turning professional Minowa was a notable amateur fighter, fighting under her birth name of Ayako Minowa rather than the "Chaoz Minowa" name she adopted when she turned professional. She ran up an impressive 37-15 (19) record in the unpaid ranks competing not just nationally but also internationally, and with success. On the national stage she claimed several national titles whilst internationally she took home bronze medals at the 2012 and 2015 Asian Women's Championships and she also competed in 4 World Women's Championships.
Given her extensive amateur background huge things were expected when Minowa signed with the Watanabe gym in 2016 and signalled her intention to turn professional. She was in her late 20's at the time, but the background she had was expected to allow her to be fast tracked and adopting the "Chaoz" name before her debut made it seem like that she wanted attention straight away.
On debut, in September 2016, Minowa stopped Thai foe Khwunchit Khunya in 3 rounds as part of an all female card. Just weeks after her debut she travelled to Korea for her second bout, stopping the crude but dangerous Chan Mi Lim in 3 rounds in her international debut. The intention form Watanabe was clear, they were going to push her, and push her quick, with an OPBF title fight coming less than 3 months after her debut. In that OPBF title bout Minowa was taken the distance for the first time in her career, as she was unable to stop Filipino Carleans Rivas. Despite failing to get the stoppage Minowa took a clear win over the Filipino to claim the OPBF female Flyweight title, the first title of her career.
After a really exciting start to her career Minowa then slowed down, fighting just once in 2017, against a limited Thai foe, and then picked up a low key win to begin 2018. That was where her problems began. She was having things too easy and when she stepped up, in March 2018 to take on Tenkai Tsunami for the WBO Light Flyweight title, she was was seemingly expecting another easy bout. Tsunami, a rugged veteran and a world class fighter in her own right, saw off the early storm of Minowa and gave her a genuine lesson, before Minowa was save at the end of round 8 by her team. She had looked exhausted, was being beaten up and had slowed drastically against Tsunami, who was getting stronger and stronger as the bout went on.
The loss was a major set back to Minowa, who was talking about winning world titles all the way up to Lightweight at one point, but she got back on the horse quickly, and picked up a low key win in Thailand to help rebuild her confidence. Lessons were clearly learned from the loss, and rather than quitting the sport, she seemed to realise she couldn't just steam roll everyone. Those lessons were put into effect in her final bout of 2018, when she travelled to Mexico and faced Ibeth Zamora Silva for the WBC female Flyweight title.
Against Zamora we were really impressed by the sharp boxing, the movement and ring IQ of Minowa, who started fantastically. Sadly though the incessant pressure of Zamora and the altitude in Puebla were too much for Minowa over 10 rounds and in the final stages her output had dropped as Zamora came on strong. It was a hotly competitive bout, but one where the local took the clear and fair decision.
That bout with Zamora was back in November 2018. Since then Minowa has been out of the ring, but returns on January 18th to face off with the exceptionally talented Kenia Enriquez, in a mouth watering bout for the WBC "interim" female Light Flyweight title. The fight, the first "world" title fight for an Asian fighter this year, is must win for Minowa if she's to pick up a world title. Now aged 32 she cannot afford a third loss in 4 bouts, but she will be the under-dog and knows she will be up against it in Mexico.
With the ability to box or brawl Minowa is a versatile fighter, with solid power. Her flaws however seem to be her stamina and her self belief. Self belief isn't a bad thing, but Minowa fought like she could rip through anyone at one point. She now seems a lot more realistic and this should serve her well going into the Enriquez bout.
Whilst it seems unlikely that Minowa will ever achieve the heady heights she predicted for herself, she is certainly a female fighter worthy of your attention leading into a must win bout for her, and her career.
This is just an opinion, maaaan! It's easy to share our opinions, and that's what you'll find here, some random opinion pieces