We know that some fight fans really look down on female boxing though we'll admit that a bout between two highly skilled female fighters genuinely excites us. Sadly many female fights are mismatches with one fighter a clear favourite over the other and very few female world title fights can be described as a "super fight". This coming weekend however we get a sensational female bout which really does deserve the tag of being a "super fight".
The bout in question will see Japan's sensational Naoko Fujioka (12-0, 6), one of the best pound-for-pound female fighters on the planet and the current WBA Super Flyweight champion, travelling to Germany to take on the European queen of the lower weights Susi Kentikian (33-2-0-1, 17), the current WBA Flyweight champion. It's a clash of cultures, a clash of two elite fighters, a clash of champions and chance for both fighters to score a genuinely career defining victory. It's as close to to a perfect bout as can be made in female boxing.
Fujioka is, to us, the most naturally talented and technically proficient female boxer on the planet. If you're a boxing fan Fujioka is a joy to watch and despite being 39 years old she still appears to be fresh as a daisy. She's a sharp and accurate fighter who has all the tools to impress any fan watching.
It was in the amateur ranks that Fujioka first made her name though since turning professional in 2009 she has really been nigh on unbeatable, in fact nobody has even run her close in what has been a sensational career. She claimed her first title, the OPBF Minimumweight title, in just her 4th bout, her first world title, the WBC Minimumweight just 2 fights later and, last year, she jumped from Minimumweight to Super Flyweight to win a second divisional world title. The most impressive thing about Fujioka however isn't her title achievements but her opposition. In just 12 fights she has beaten several world class fighters such as Naoko Shibata, Anabel Ortiz, Victoria Argueta and Naoko Yamaguchi, a phenomenal foursome.
The big question for Fujioka isn't her talent, and in fact it's not even her age, it's how she will fight on the road. This will be her first fight outside of Japan and just her second bout outside of the Korakuen Hall. How she will fight in Germany is a really big issue given that German judging has been often been questioned over the years with many suggesting it's the worst in the world. Will Fujioka fight like she'll need a stoppage or will she fight like her usual and box intelligently? More importantly she'll know this is her chance to impress a whole new audience to become a 3-weight world champions, just the second in Japanese history, those may well drive her on and neutralise the crowd.
For those who haven't seen Fujioka we have managed to track down the footage of her sensational performance against Yamaguchi, a fight that shows just how talented the Japanese fighter is
Germany's popular Kentikian, popularly known as the "Killer Queen" has long been one of the figureheads of German female boxing and is one of the most popular female fighters in Europe. Not only is she popular but she's also talented, hard working and a fighter who often fights at a hectic and exciting pace. She lacks power but more than makes up for it in sheer determination and limitless energy.
Aged 27 it does seem like Kentikian has been around for years and in fact she has been. She won her first world title, the WBA female Flyweight title, way back in 2007 and would later unify it with WBO title as she racked up defense after defense after defense. Some of those defenses were genuinely class and came against the likes of Nadia Raoui whilst others were little more than stay busy fights, such as her defense against Nadia Hokmi. Sadly for Kentikian she came a cropper in 2012 losing back to back decisions to Melissa McMorro and Carina Moreno. Since 2013 however she has run 4 successive wins and reclaimed the WBA Flyweight title whilst scoring a revenge victory over Carima Moreno and notable victories over Simona Galassi and Dan Bi Kim. That performance against Kim can be seen in full here for those who haven't got around to see the German in action.
In the ring Kentikian is popular, fights like a whirlwind but is diminutive, light hitting and has a lot of miles on the tank for a 27 year old. She's also not the most technically skilled preferring work rate over accuracy and accumulation over sitting on her shots. It's worked for her on the whole but her two losses do stand out to suggest that she's not unbeatable and that she's not the untouchable fighter she once looked.
Going in we're viewing this as a boxer against a swarmer. Typically those stylistic matches favour the swarmer, but the boxer here is the bigger fighter, the naturally stronger fighter and the one with more to gain in terms of reputation. On the other hand the swarmer, Kentikian, will be the fan favourite, will have home comforts and will possibly even get the edge with the judges. With those things in mind we are expecting something a little bit special with both looking break down the other fighter in a potential female FOTY.
Usually we'd favour a German champion at home but we really think Fujioka is on a different level to Kentikian and we suspect she'll show that class late to wear down a tiring Kentikian in the later rounds of a genuine thriller. If you're a boxing fan we need to advise you not miss this one.
A real female superfight takes place this coming Saturday in Mexico as Japan's Etsuko Tada (13-1-2, 3) attempts to avenge her sole defeat and reclaim the WBA female Minimumweight title in her rematch with Mexico's talented Anabel Ortiz (15-3, 3). The bout, which comes a little over 15 months after their first clash, will be Tada's first in Mexico and will give her a huge opportunity to reclaim the position as the best female fighter at 105lbs on the planet.
When the two fighters first met, in later July 2013, it was in Japan and Ortiz claimed a very narrow split decision win. It was the type of bout that could have gone either way though judges from Mexico and Panama gave the bout to Ortiz with scores of 96-94, which over-ruled the Japanese judge who had it 97-93 to Tada. It was one of those bouts that was competitive enough to have come to either of those scores though it did seem like Tada would have been the more deserving winner.
For Tada the loss was a painful one and ended her championship reign that had began more than 4 years earlier when she had defeated the then unbeaten Cho-Rong Son. That 4 year reign had included 9 defenses of the title prior to the loss to Ortiz and had seen Tada fight to draws in unification bouts with then WBC champion Naomi Togashi and then WIBA champion Ria Ramnarine, as well scoring wins over Ibeth Zamora Silva, Naoko Shibata and Yuko Kuroki, all of whom currently hold world titles themselves.
Sadly for Tada she is now 33 and her 11 world title bouts have seen her take part in a staggering 110 world title rounds with many of those rounds being tough ones, despite her skill and very sharp southpaw jab. In comparison to compatriot Naoko Fujioka, aged 39, Tada is a relative baby however Fujioka, who fights Susi Kentikian in the other female super fight of the night, has got the power to make her life easier. Tada's lack of power has sadly seen her recording just a single stoppage in the last 6 years and that has seen her number of rounds climb as she's been forced to go the distance time and time again.
At her best Tada is talented boxer who can fight when she needs to or rely on her height and reach to get her southpaw jab in to play. There flaws, obviously her power, but she can do a bit of everything other than bang opponents out and, with this fight being in Mexico, we may see her putting more meat onto her shots to try and convince the judges that she deserves the win this time around.
As for Ortiz she's another fighter who has been in with a who's who of female boxing. In her 18 fight career she has shared the ring with Ibeth Zamora Silva, Carina Moreno, Naoko Fujioka, Yesica Yolanda Bopp and of course Tada. The only fighter to have stopped her is the previously mentioned Fujioka whilst Bopp took a dominant 10 round decision against her, other than those two losses, to two of the best out there, she has proven her ability as a fighter.
Wins over Moreno, in 2009 for the WBC Minimumweight title, and Tada, in 2013 for the WBA title, have seen Ortiz become a 2-time world champion. Since beginning her second reign she has gone 3-0 (1) and defended her title twice, though a joke defence against Hye-Soo Park, on the under-card of Koki Kameda's bout with Jung-Oh Son, really was scraping the barrel for what should be considered a defense.
Stood at 5'0” Ortiz is a diminutive fighter, even in the Minimumweight division, though makes up for it in heart, desire and determination. She's scrappy and hard working, and refuses to accept defeat. In fact in her loss to Fujioka she was down 3 times before finally being retired at the end of round 8 needing a KO with no chance of getting it. Whilst stylistically different from Tada she too lacks the power that's sometimes needed to gain the opponents respect but she has the fire that often makes up for her relatively feather fists.
Due to the fact this is a rematch and it's in Ortiz's native Mexico we are expecting a somewhat fiery encounter with Tada knowing she'll really need to make it clear she's winning rounds whilst perhaps being forced out of her usual style of fighting. We still suspect to see the Japanese fighter using her sharp jab but we imagine she'll have to follow it through more with flurries and whipping in more straight lefts. Sadly we're unsure she can convince the judges that she deserves the decision in her opponents back yard. In her only previous fight outside of Japan Tada was held to a very unfair draw and we wouldn't be surprised if Ortiz took a debatable win here, like she did in their first meeting.
(Image courtesy of notifight.com)
Here we preview the key female title bouts involving an Asian fighter.