Recently we saw Japanese fighter Kazuto Ioka being wrongly proclaimed by many as the first Japanese 4-weight world champion. Whilst he was the first man to achieve that feat, he was the second fighter to achieve it, following in the foot steps of Japanese boxing queen Naoko Fujioka (18-2, 7), who subsequently went on become Japan's first 5 weight world champion as well.
This coming Friday Fujioka returns to the ring to defend her WBA female Flyweight title, as she takes on 2-weight world champion Tenkai Tsunami (26-12, 15), in what is a really highly anticipated female show down between two of the best female fighters Japan has given us.
Whilst their is certainly a new wave of Japanese female fighters, such as Kasumi Saeki and Eri Matsuda, both Fujioka and Tsunami are part of the last generation and have lead the way for the younger fighters to make their mark on the sport. As a result this has the feeling of a real meeting of two significant fighters from the last generation, even if both are perhaps coming to the end of their great careers.
Fujioka really has been a legend of female boxing. Yes she lacks the high profile of Claressa Shields and Katie Taylor, but her career has seen her win world titles from Minimumweight to Bantamweight, moving up and down the scales, and defeat the likes of Naoko Shibata, Anabel Ortiz, Naoko Yamamguchi, Mariana Juarez, Shindo Go and Irma Sanchez. She has chased legacy fights, and both of her losses with were very competitive decisions on the road to local heroes, with a loss to Jessica Chavez being a rather dubious one to say the least.
In the ring Fujioka can box or brawl. She did hit quite hard early in her career, at Minimumweight, but at the higher weights her power has lost something. Saying that she's still a solid puncher, but no longer has real stopping power with just 2 stoppages in her last 9 wins. Instead relying on her skills, intensity and accuracy, rather than her power to pick up wins.
Whilst Fujioka is a real legend of female boxing, it's fair to say that Tsunami deserves a similar description, despite her less than stellar record. The 34 year old made her debut way back in 2005, before the Japanese Boxing Commission even recognised female boxing. She would become one of the real stars of the early days of female boxing in Japan, winning the JWBC Flyweight title and winning an IFBA title before winning the more significant WBA female Super Flyweight title in 2009. Since then she has fought a real who's who of female boxing, often travelling for some of her biggest bouts. Her competition has included, but isn't limited to, Kayoko Ebata, Naoko Yamaguchi, Janteh Perez, Mariana Juarez, Zulina Munoz, Jessica Chavez, Carolina Rodriguez, Arely Mucino and Gretchen Abaniel.
The problem for Tsunami is she's often come up short on her travels, losing in South Korea, Mexico and Chile, with losses in her last 8 road bouts. Despite those losses she has proven, where ever she fights, that she is tough, is full of energy and always looks to have a fight. Sadly though she has shown a lack of speed, poor footwork and can be out boxed, out thought and out sped, which have all been issues through her career. She's aggressive but clumsy, exciting, but flawed.
Whilst we rate both fighters very highly we believe that Fujioka's more rounded skill-set, her ability to move and use her speed and feet is going to be the difference here. We're expecting an intelligent display from the champion, who will be forced to trade at times, but will control the distance and tempo en route to adding another notable win to her legendary career.
Prediction UD10 - Fujioka
The month of June has been a relative quiet one for fights in Asia, especially when compared to the incredible action we had in May and the busy schedule set for July. It does however end with a really interesting bout in Korea, as unbeaten local star Hyun Mi Choi (15-0-1, 4) defends her WBA female Super Featherweight title against Japanese challenger Wakako Fujiwara (7-2-2, 2). For the unbeaten queen this will be her 7th defense and her 15th WBA "world title" bout, whilst the challenger will be fighting in her first world title bout, having previously held OPBF and Japanese female titles.
The champion is a really interesting fighter. She was born in North Korea but escaped the regime with her family and has spent her entire professional career in South Korea, where she has been a real success story as a refugee fighter. Her career began, amazingly, with a world title fight in 2008, when she beat Chunyan Xu for the WBA female Featherweight title, to create a notable footnote in boxing history. Since then all but two of her fights have been for some form of a WBA title. She made 7 defenses of the Featherweight title, won the Interim Super Featherweight title, got up graded and has defended the Super Featherweight regular title 6 times already.
Whilst Choi hasn't become a major name in female boxing world wide she has had a few really solid wins in her career. These have included wins over Claudia Andrea Lopez, Sandy Tsagouris, Shannon O'Connell, Fujin Raika, Diana Ayala and Mayra Alejandra Gome, all world class fighters in their own right.
Choi's success has come down to her pure boxing skills. She's a basic fighter, but one who follows the text book well. She's light on her feet, has good hand speed, and fights to her strengths, keeping the bout at range with her jab, footwork and straight. There is is more to her than he straight punching, but that is certainly her strength and the key to her success so far.
The 38 year old Fujiwara is 10 years older than the champion and notably didn't even debut until she was. Her career got off to a nightmare start, losing by KO in her debut, then fighting to a draw in her second bout. In fact Fujiwara was 1-2-1 after 4 contests and her career didn't seem like it was going anywhere. Amazingly however she has battled back and gone 7-0-1, winning the Japanese female Featherweight title in March 2018 then added the OPBF title less than 4 months later to unify the titles. Whilst her run has been good on paper it is worth noting her biggest wins have come against the likes of Asami Jinnari and Kimika Miyoshi.
Fujiwara isn't the most technically sound boxer, her shots wide to say the least, but she comes forward, fights bouts at her pace and believes in her chin enough to she can take one to land one. Given her age there is clearly a case of father time being on her back, though we do wonder how long she can have left, especially with a style that depends so much on volume and work rate.
Given the huge difference in technical ability, and world level experience, it's hard to see anything but a win for Choi. The bigger question is the method of victory, and we're going with Choi to actually stop Fujiwara late on to, through accumulation of clean shots.
Prediction - Choi TKO9
Female boxing is on the rise, with more attention being given to it than ever before and more and more female fighters being involved in interesting match ups. No longer is female boxing a case of a trained athlete against going up against someone who has little idea of the sport in a world title fight, but instead we're getting two trained fighters meeting a pure contest of skills. One of the best things about the rise in female boxing is that the previous generation's fighters are being met by a rising wave of young prospects who have come through the amateur ranks and look like polished fighters straight away.
We've already seen fighters like Kasumi Saeki and Eri Matsuda race away to titles, and we're now expecting to see Mizuki Chimoto (1-0, 1) follow suit. The unbeaten 25 year old from the Watanabe gym gets a chance to claim a title in just her second professional bout as she takes on Japanese female Minimumweight champion Chie Higano (8-8-1, 2) on June 25th. A win for Chimoto will see her match Matsuda's achievement of winning a title in just her second bout, whilst a win for Higano would be her first successful defense of the title.
Chimoto was a stellar amateur, running up a 45-12 record in the unpaid ranks, placing in national competitions and gaining some valuable international experience. That foundation saw her turn professional last year with big expectations on her shoulders. She debuted in November, on an all female card, and impressed as she stopped Thai visitor Kannika Bangnara in 3 rounds. It was clear from the start that Shimoto knew her way around the ring, she judged distance well, made the Thai flail at the air and landed her own sharp shots. She looked incredibly relaxed and calm, sharp and smart, and mixed up her shots really well.
Despite being a professional novice it's clear that Chimoto is a very talented and special fighter, and someone who's amateur credentials have marked her as someone who will be fast tracked.
With 17 fights behind her Higano is much more experienced in the pro-ring than Chimoto and she debuted more than 5 years ago. The 34 year old has a very mixed record, but she has been in with a genuine who's who of the Japanese female scene, including Shione Ogata, Saemi Hanagata, Momo Koseki and Nanae Suzuki. In terms of international bouts she has faced the likes of Eun Hye Lee and Casey Morton, and was very competitive with both. Despite being a veteran she only actually won her Japanese title this past February, in her second shot at the title.
Despite losing 8 of her 17 bouts Higano is a really solid fighter, she's aggressive, she sets a high work-rate and comes forward with a lot of upper body movement high volume output. There's a lack of real crispness to her work, but she's a nightmare with her pressure and output and will ask a lot of questions of very good fighters.
Higano certainly has the style to test Chimoto, she has the experience and energy to push the novice all the way in a really tough bout. But, we suspect the amateur skills, the crisp punching and the sharp movement of Chimoto will see her over the line and put her on the fast track to a world title fight. It'll be tough, but we see Chimoto taking the clear decision.
Prediction Chimoto UD6
June 19th is set to be a hectic day for fight fans thanks to a big show in Chiba. One of the many bouts on that card will see a new WBO female Super Flyweight champion being crowned, as Miyo Yoshida (12-1) and Casey Morton (8-1-3, 1) battle for the currently vacant title. For both fighters this will be their first world title bout, and potentially their only shot at world gold, given that both are the wrong side of 30.
Yoshida has been a revelation over the last 2 years or so. She debuted in 2014, in a 4 round bout, and struggled past Ayaka Sato and then took a significant break from the ring before returning to struggle past Yuko Henzan. Yoshida would win her first 4 bouts, all close decisions, before her luck ran out and she was beaten by Yuki Koseki in September 2016. Since the loss however she has gone 7-0 and shown massive improvements. Her 7-0 run has seen her avenge her loss to Koseki as well as claim the Japanese female Bantamweight title, with a win over Tomomi Takano, and later unify the title with the OPBF female Bantamweight title, which she won in 2018 with a technical decision over Gretel de Paz.
In the ring Yoshida is a good boxer-mover. She lacks power but has shown an ability to fight at a good pace, grit her teeth when he needs to and dig deep to get the win. He victory over Takano was deemed a big upset and since then her confidence has grown and grown. Sadly whilst her confidence has gotten better her competition really hasn't improved, though a win in March against Yoshie Wakasa was among her best wins to date.
At the age of 31 Yoshida is on the wrong end of 30, however Morton is the older fighter, at 35, and is also the fighter with the less impressive form coming in to this bout. The "Lady Hawaiian Punch" also debuted in 2014 and has fought consistently since then, with multiple bouts a year. She has fought not in the US and Mexico but has also been on an Asia tour, of sorts, in recent years with her last 5 bouts being spread between the Philippines and China. We mentioned her form a moment a go and that is, in part at least, due to her 2018 upset loss to Jutamas Jitpong in China, in a bout where Morton was made to look second rate to the Thai. It's also worth noting that over her last 8 she is 5-1-2, with draws against the then debuting Karla Gonzalez and the then 1-2 Samantha Salazar.
To date Morton's best win, at least on paper, is a shut out in the Philippines against Kanchana Tungthaisong, who was a shadow of the fighter she had once been and a narrow win over Japanese female Minimumweight champion Chie Higano. Both several classes below Yoshida, both technically and physically.
Morton will know this may well be her first and only chance at a world title, but she will be up against a naturally bigger fighter who is full of confidence and we suspect that size and belief will be the difference, leading to a clear decision win for Yoshida.
Prediction UD10 Yoshida
It's fair to say that April 2019 was a month that will go down in female boxing as a big one. We had a card in Japan, on the 14th, that was an all-female card and, of course, we had "the biggest women's boxing match in history", when Christina Hammer and Claressa Shields threw down on Showtime. We're also set to see Kasumi Saeki battle for a world title in just her 4th bout, on April 28th.
Saeki isn't the only notable fighter on the April 28th card, with former 3-time world champion Etsuko Tada (18-3-2, 5), a stablemate of Saeki's, takes on former Saeki opponent Kanyarat Yoohanngoh (5-2, 3), in a WBC Minimumweight world title eliminator. A win for the Japanese veteran sets her up with a chance to become a grandslam champion, whilst a win for Kanyarat sets her up for a huge year.
At 37 years old, and with her 38th birthday coming next month, Tada will know that time on her long career is running out. She debuted almost 11 years ago and has had a genuinely notable career. She would claim her first world title in her 5th bout, beating ChoRong Son for the WBA Minimumweight title and would twice fight to draws in unification bouts. The first of those was a draw with the then WBC champion Naomi Togashi before then fighting to a draw with the then "interim" WIBA champion Ria Rammarine. To 2013 they were the only marks on her record, which she notched notable wins over Ibeth Zamora Silva, Maria Salinas, Naoko Shibata and Yuko Kuroki.
Sadly a couple of split decision losses to Anabel Ortiz saw Tada losing the WBA title, though she would bounce back by winning the IBF title, which she lost in her first defense to Cai Zong Ju. She would later claim the WBO title in 2018, though vacated without making a defense to pursue her dream of a grandslam.
Although older and slower than she once was Tada is still an aggressive, tough, hard hitting fighter. In a small ring, or at least one that's smaller than she fought Cai Zong Ju in, she is a nightmare. The larger the ring the more she will struggle, but this bout isn't expected to be in a big ring.
The 20 year old Thai is a bit of an unknown, unless you are a hardcore fan of as female boxing in Asia. She made her professional debut at the ridiculously young age of 15, yes you did read that right 15, and took a break after her debut. Since then she's had mixed results, losing on the road, to Zhezhe Ni in China and to the prodigious Kasumi Saeki in Japan, but did score a huge win last time out, stopping Umi Ishikawa this past February. That win was, by far and away, the best of Kanyarat's career, and is a huge boost fert her coming into this bout.
We've seen the Thai look confused and lost, showing no answers to Saeki's speed and skills last July, but with 3 wins in a row she does have confidence. She's proven that she's aggressive, a physical fighter and doesn't mind bending the rules, something she did regularly against Ishikawa. Sadly for her Tada has sene it all before and there will have to be more than a few dirty tricks to pick up a win here.
We suspect Kanyarat will become a fixture on the regional scene in the years to come, however we can't see her having the tools or experience to deal with Tada. The Thai does have some momentum coming into this bout, but we expect to see that being destroyed early before Tada breaks her down and scores a mid-round stoppage.
Prediction - TKO4 Tada
On April 28th we'll see Japan's Kasumi Saeki (3-0, 2) look to announce herself on the world stage, as she takes on once beaten Mexican Elizabeth Lopez (6-1-4, 1) in a bout for the WBO female Minimumweight title, a title vacated by stablemate Etsuko Tada. For Saeki this is a chance to win a world title in just her 4th bout, whilst also looking to prove she is more than just a talented prospect. For Lopez the bout will be her first outside of Latin America, and also her first for a major title.
The 22 year old Saeki is a novice professional. She only turned professional in 2018, making her debut on May 27th 2018, though had had a solid amateur background with a 35-9 record including bouts on both the national and international stage. That amateur background showed on her debut as she showed flashes of genius in a 6 round decision win over Floryvic Montero on debut. Following up her debut Saeki would score a stoppage win over Kanyarat Yoohanngoh, who would subsequently win the OPBF silver female title, and then stop Wassana Kamdee, to become the WBO Asia Pacific champion.
Saeki is a real natural talent. She is one of the purest female boxers out there, with exceptional skills, lightning speed, alarming accuracy and amazing ring IQ. even this early in her career she looks to be a special fighter, not just a special prospect. She looks to have all the tools to go a very long way, has already shown she can do 6 rounds. Given the fact she's in the Shinsei gym will have really helped her develop her skills and it's clear that she will have been working alongside Etsuko Tada to prepare for this bout.
With 11 bouts to her name the 4'9" Lopez has one of the sports oddest looking records, with 4 draws from her 11 contests. The 26 year old, who made her debut in March 2015, would strangely begin her career 2-1-3, with her loss coming to the under-rated Yesenia Gomez who has since become the WBC female Light Flyweight champion. As well as those 3 early draws Lopez actually drew last time out, fighting to a 6 round draw with Kumora Yang Badillo.
Footage of Lopez is hard to find, though what is available makes her look quite slow and clumsy. She's wild and rough around the edges, but does seem tough and marches forward. She has an aggressive style, but it is a very agricultural style and she does seem wild and reckless at times. Despite being aggressive she has only scored 1 stoppage win in 11 bouts, showing a lack of power and it seems like that will cause her bouts to go longer than she would like.
From the footage available of both it seems hard to see anything but a win for Saeki. She has too much skill, too much speed and too much polish for someone as sloppy as Lopez. Lopez will come to fight, but we expect to see her wide shots beign countered time and time again as Saeki goes on to take a wide, and clear decision. The only worry about Saeki is whether her lack of professional experience will be exposed, though with her training at the Shinsei gym we don't imagine that will actually be a problem here.
True must win bouts are rare in boxing, but on April 14th we get a real must win, as former WBC female Minimumweight champion Yuko Kuroki (17-6-1, 8) [黒木優子] takes on former WBO Atomweight champion Nao Ikeyama (18-5-3, 5) [森脇恵子], with neither able to afford another loss if they are to remain relevant.
At 49 years old Ikeyama has been a testament to looking after yourself, hard work, dedication and doing everything a fighter can to prolong their career. She has however began to lose the battle to father time. Since the started of 2016 she has gone 1-2-2, with her sole win coming due to an horrific knee injury suffered by Ayaka Miyao, who would avenge the loss last year. She would lose the WBO Atomweight title to Mika Iwakawa last year and has shown signs of slow down, something that one would have expected to see from her much earlier in her career.
Ikeyama has been a bit of a low key legend of female boxing, beginning her career in 2003 but making a real name for herself in her 40's. She has been competing with world class opponents long after most fighters are retired. Even in her advanced age she hasn't been backing away from stiff competition, twice facing Miyao and twice fighting Saemi Hanagata in recent years. She has always been a busy fighter, her stamina is incredible even compared to younger women, but her lack of power has been an issue and she has certainly slowed down over the last few years.
Kuroki is the much younger fighter, at the age of 27, but she is also in the need of a notable win after losses to Momo Koseki and Saemi Hanagata in her last 3 bouts. At one point she was seen as one of the top female Minimumweights, with solid wins over the likes of Mari Ando, Katia Gutierrez, Masae Akitaya and Nancy Franco. Those wins however look to be in the rear view mirror and her last win of note was a second bout with Ando at the end of 2016. She's certainly not looking shot, or old, but there is a need for a win here if she's to remain in the mix, whilst Ikeyama likely needs a win to keep her career alive.
At her best Kuroki is a talent, quick fighter, with a high work rate, good technical skills and exciting style. She is fan friendly, and a strong fighter at 105lbs, without being a powerful puncher. She has faced a real who's who and since her debut in 2008 she has lost to top fighters like Koseki, Hanagata, Naoko Shibata and Etsuko Tada. She is clearly a fantastic fighter, but one who is possibly low on confidence and this could be the perfect time to fight her.
We love Ikeyama's late success, and her career story deserves a lot more attention than it has has. Here however we see her coming up short against a younger, fresh, hungrier fighter. Yes Ikeyama is fighting for her career, but Kuroki can't afford a loss either, and she is the naturally bigger, stronger fighter as well as the younger woman. We see this being exciting, action packed, and with a lot of leather being exchanged, but we also see a clear win for Kuroki over 10 rounds. Potentially leading to another world title bout for the fighter from Fukuoka.
Unification bouts in boxing are rare, whether they are bouts to unify world titles, or regional titles they are still rare. Even more so when they involve relative professional novices. With that in mind there's a bout on March 13th to get really excited about, especially if you follow the female boxing scene, as OPBF Atomweight champion Eri Matsuda (2-0) takes on JBC counter part Nanae Suzuki (8-2-1, 1), with the two women looking to join the most notable regional title with the Japanese title.
Of the two it's Matsuda who is the more interesting. She was a former amateur standout who has already impressed, beating a former Japanese title challenger on debut, taking a competitive win over Sana Hazuki, before schooling Minayo Kei over 8 rounds to claim the OPBF title. The 24 year old from Team 10 count is one of the smoothest female boxers on the planet, with really well rounded skills, a very sharp punches and lovely movement. She's a rangy southpaw who knows how to use the ring, though when she needs to bite down and fight she has shown she can do that too.
Despite being a professional novice Matsuda has already fought 14 rounds of professional boxing. She has proven her stamina over 8 rounds already and will not worry about the 8 round distance against Suzuki, have done 8 rounds at a good pace against Kei.
With 11 professional bouts under her belt Suzuki is the much more experienced fighter, and she has already been involved in 4 Japanese title fights, going unbeaten in those 4 bouts. Her first title back, back in December 2017, saw her fight to a draw with the previously mentioned Suzuki, though she would take the title in a rematch 3 months later. Since then she has defended the bout against Akari Arase and Sayaka Aoki. Despite having a couple of losses and a draw on her record already she has actually beaten every one she has fought, avenging losses to Aoki and Yumiko Shimoooka.
Watching Suzuki we see a relatively basic fighter. That's not to say she's bad, but she is basic, with a good work rate, a pretty solid looking right hand and aggressive mentality, coming forward behind her jab. Technically there is a lack of that crispness we see with Matsuda, but she has got a battlers mentality, coming forward and letting her hands go up close.
Suzuki has the type of style we see bothering Matsuda, a come forward style that involves working in the pocket. Thankfully for Matsude the limitations of Suzuki mean that she probably won't actually have too many issues here. If Suzuki was a bit quicker, a bit sharper and a bit lighter on her feet she could be a problem. Instead we see Suzuki being too sharp, too quick and establishing her range, tempo and jab en route to a wide 8 round decision win.
The Japanese female scene is one that looks set to really build in 2019, with a number of rising hopefuls looking to be fast tracked through the ranks. The creation of the Japanese female titles has been a really great addition and given female fighters something to aim for on their way up the ranks.
On March 13th we see the Japanese female scene take center stage with Victoriva Vol 4, which will feature only female fighters. One of the main bouts on that card will see OPBF and JBC female Bantamweight champion Miyo Yoshida (11-1) defending her national title against JBC #1 ranked contender Yoshie Wakasa (6-0, 2).
The 30 year old Yoshida has been one of the big revelations of the Japanese female scene in the last few years. She began her career in 2014 and despite some struggles to really get going, wining her first two bouts by close decision and losing her 5th bout, she has really shined, winning her last 7 in a row. That current run of wins has seen her avenge her only loss, beating Yuki Koseki just 6 months after losing to her, as well as winning the Japanese female title, defeating Tomomi Takano, and the OPBF female title, defeating Gretel de Paz. Not only has Yoshida won both titles but she has also defended both belts.
Yoshida isn't a big Bantamweight, she's not a quick fighter or much of a puncher. What she does well however is apply intelligent pressure, bringing the fight to her opponent and landing clean shots. Her jab seemed to land more often than that of Tanako when the two fought, despite Takano having a clear reach and height advantage, and her timing when she throws her straight right is very impressive. There is, at times, a messiness to her work, but that tends to lend it's self well to her using his physical strength on opponents, and despite being a small fighter she really is a physically strong one, often able to push opponents around.
The unbeaten Wakasa, also 30, also began her career in 2014 though has not been as active as Yoshida, or accomplished as much, in part that was due to real inactivity in the ring in 2016 and 2017. Despite the lack of experience she is the JBC #1 ranked contender and is an unbeaten fighter with notable domestic wins over Asami Jinnari, who later challenged for the Japense female Featherweight title, and Tomoko Okuda. In just 6 fights she has already taken 2 unbeaten records, and has shown steady improvement through her career.
Watching Wakasa we see a fighter with good timing, a sharp jab, and the ability to cut the distance pretty well. She has managed to beat quicker, more naturally gifted fighters, and moves smartly, using intelligent footwork. She sets an educated work rate, and does appear happy to throw eye catching shots, even if they aren't the crispest. If we're being honest we thought she was lucky against Okuda, but she did land the more eye catching shots, even if she was out landed.
Given the styles of the two fighters we tend to feel that Yoshida will bring the pressure and force Wakasa to fight at her pace. The lack of power, from both, would suggest this is going the distance, but the 6 round distance is something Yoshida has more experience with, as Wakasa has only gone 6 rounds once, and could end up helping the champion further stamp her authority on the bout.
We're expecting a clear but competitive decision win for Yoshida here, who may well move into world title bouts before the end of the 2019.
This coming Saturday fight fans in Mexico will get the chance to see WBC female Light Flyweight champion Yesenia Gomez (14-5-3-1, 6) defending her title against Japanese challenger Erika Hanawa (10-3, 4). For Gomez this will be her first defense, following her title win last September, whilst Hanawa will be competing in her second world title fight, following a loss to Kayoko Ebata in a WBO female Minimumweight title bout back in May 2017.
Gomez won the belt last year, at the age of 22, by defeating veteran Esmeralda Moreno in what was the second bout between the two ladies who had fought to a draw the previous May. The win was Gomez's first victory in over 2 years, though she had actually gone 0-1-3-1 in her previous 5 bouts fighting two a draw not only with Moreno but also two draws with Jacky Calvo and a no contest with Lourdes Juarez.
Early in her career Gomez struggled to get her career going, losing 2 of her first 3, to go to and 4 of her first 10. Since that 6-4 start she has gone 8-1-3-1 and really developed into a solid fighter. She has learned to use what she has to build her career and gain her success. Notably that success is built on her speed, her jab, her movement and her work rate. She's a smart fighter, who boxes well off the back foot and although she lacks power she is accurate and lands clean shots. They aren't damaging shots, but they are typically clean and consistent.
The 28 year old Hanawa has been a fighter who typically fallen short in her biggest bouts, but did show what she can do last time out, when he stopped Jujeath Nagaowa to claim the OPBF female Minimumweight title. Going into that bout Hanawa had started that she was fighting for her career, and it showed in her performance and her emotion after Nagaowa retired in the corner after 4 rounds. For, arguably, the first time Hanawa put it all together and did what she needed to win a big one. Prior to this she had come up short in bouts for the OPBF, WBO Asia Pacific and WBO world titles. Those losses came to good fighters, with Kayoko Ebata in the WBO world title fight, Saemi Hanagata in the OPBF title fight and Shione Oagata in the WBO Asia Pacific title fight, but still came every time she stepped up in class.
Interestingly whilst Hanawa is known for losing big fights, she is actually 3-0 in fighters outside of Japan, and with this bout taking place in Mexico that may be a good sign. She may well believe the judges will be against her if it's close, and will instead have to set the pace, and fight with a high work rate. It's unclear if she can do that for 10 rounds, but that will surely be in her mind when the bell goes to begin the fight.
Whilst Gomez has struggled to get over the line in recent fights we see her taking the win here, with the title boosting her confidence and helping her to put on a complete performance. Hanawa won't travel to lose, in fact she'll be there hungrier than ever and full of confidence on the back of her win over Nagaowa, but we expect her to come up short and lose a clear, yet hard fought, decision here.
Here we preview the key female title bouts involving an Asian fighter.