We know many fight fans, especially those in the west, don't think highly of female boxing. Fans, for whatever reason, tend to feel that female boxers lack the fundamental skills of their male counterparts and that sport is certainly a man's only world.
Despite that thought being prevalent in the UK and the US we tend to disagree fully and in fact we recommend every fan who thinks female boxers are limited to watch Naoko Fujioka (11-0, 6), a fighter whose skillset is similar to that of some top male fighters and her domination is nothing short of impressive.
Fujioka, the current WBA female Super Flyweight champion, impressed us all last year when she ditched the WBC female Minimumweight title in search of a challenging opponent. Fuijioka's search lead her to Naoko Yamaguchi, a bigger fighter with a reputation as being a monstrous puncher. Despite being the smaller fighter jumping up the weights Fujioka dominated Yamaguchi, dropping her once on route to a very clear decision victory.
On July 7th Fujioka will be attempting to make the first defence of her Super Flyweight title as she takes on the younger, taller, naturally bigger and fresher Tomoko Kawanishi (9-1, 4) in a bout that is very interesting looking despite our very genuine admiration of Fujioka and her skills.
Fujioka, at 38, is a fighter who is likely to begin showing signs of declining in the ring. She looked sharp, fast, powerful and excellent last time out but we know fighters do become worse with age and we're unsure how long Fujioka will remain the fighter that we love watching.
At just 27 Kawinishi is not just younger than the champion but she is more than a decade younger than Fujioka. She also boasts a staggering 5" of height advantage and began her career fighting at Bantamweight, some 13lbs heavier than where Fujioka made her name. That sort of natural size and youth will certainly do Kawanishi the world of good as long as she can use those advantages, keep her jab busy and effectively force Fujioka to break inside of her reach.
One thing was cannot say about Kawanishi is that she is experienced or proven. He most telling bout was her sole loss, a decision loss to the hard hitting Riyo Togo. She proved her toughness in that bout and gave Togo a very tough fight but, in fairness, Togo is a crude slugger whilst Fujioka is a skilled boxer-puncher and the two cannot really be compared together.
Whilst we know plenty about Fujioka who combines excellent pure boxing with speed and power we don't know nearly as much about Kawanishi. From what we have seen of her though she's a fighter who uses her reach well, fires off a busy jab and has sharp hooks, however her defence looks limited and she doesn't look anywhere near as rounded as Fujioka. There is talent there but it lacks the polish that she likely needs to reach make her advantages count against a fighter with Fuijioka's skills.
In our eyes this will be a fight that starts competitively with Fujioka learning to cope with the size disadvantage for the first round or two. As soon as the champion figures out the size of the challenger she will begin to dominate and quite probably break down the challenger inside the distance in a very interesting bout that shows just how good Fujioka is. Kawanishi will almost certainly bounce back from a loss to such an accomplished fighter as Fujioka, and will likely win a title down the line, but this isn't her time, she lacks the experience at the highest level and the polish to over-come a fighter as exceptional as the champion here.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Here we preview the key female title bouts involving an Asian fighter.