In boxing there are a number of reasons to be fast tracked. For some fighters, such as Naoya Inoue and Kosei Tanaka, the reason to be fast tracked is to make a statement and make the world sit up and take note. For other fighters it's a case time not being on their side, effectively it's now or never.
One fighter who falls into the second category is female fighter Nana Yoshikawa (4-0, 2) who, on April 29th, challenges for her first world title in what is just her 5th professional contest. The 36 year old from Osaka turns 37 in June and she really doesn't have time to develop her professional experienced any more than she already has.
Unfortunately for Yoshikawa she's not just fighting for a world title in late April but she's going up against a woman who is widely regarded as the best in weight class, Anabel Ortiz (16-3, 3). Not only is Ortiz the WBA champion but she also has a very good record against Japanese fighter with 3 wins and just a single loss, which came to amazing Naoko Fujioka.
Yoshikawa, for those who haven't followed her career, has been moved fast following a successful amateur career that saw her winning 55 of 77 bouts. Those wins came across a number of weights, starting at Flyweight in 2005 and going all the way up to Featherweight in 2012, and saw her claiming 3 weight titles on the Japanese national scene. As a professional she began her career in August 2013 fighting in 6 rounders. In her second bout she claimed an OPBF ranking and just a fight later she claimed the OPBF female Light Flyweight title in just 101 seconds.
Since winning her OPBF title Yoshikawa has fought just once, scoring a 2nd round stoppage over Kledpetch KKP, a former Flyweight world title challenger who went 8 rounds with the world Shindo Go. The last 2 wins for Nana have been been at Light Flyweight and both have shown her power, something we didn't see in her first 2 bouts which were both fought at Super Flyweight, The fact she's dropping to Minimumweight to fight Ortiz suggests that she will be the bigger fighter, though do wonder how she will look losing those 3 extra lbs.
Whilst Yoshikawa is only known by the hardcore of the hardcore, fans may actually recognise Ortiz's name. She is a 2-time world champion who has faced a who's who of female boxing. She her first world title back in 2009 with a win over Carina Moreno and successfully defended it in Japan against Nanako Kikuchi before being beaten Fujioka. Since that loss Ortiz has gone 8-1 (2) with her only loss coming to Argentinian star Yesica Yolanda Bopp. In those 8 wins she has twice beaten Etsuko Tada, albeit in 2 razor thin decisions with the second being a much disputed bout.
In the ring Ortiz is a nightmare to fight. She comes forward, throws a lot of shots and makes everything into a war. Technically she's flawed but she's like a pitbull and once she gets her teeth into an opponent she is almost impossible to force backwards. It takes a very special fighter to beat her and a sensational to look good doing it.
At 5'0” Ortiz is short, even for a Minimumweight, but she's all fighter and when she gets into the ring she's not going to back down. Her size often becomes and advantage and with her aggressive mentality she's absolutely vicious on the inside, despite a lack of power. As well as her style she's also experienced, tough and and the type of fight who will give anyone a nightmare.
For Yoshikawa this is a baptism of fire. She was a good amateur but there is a world of difference between being a good amateur and being one of the best fighters in your division. Ortiz has shown the ability to gut out a few bad rounds and turn things around. For Yoshikawa she needs to keep her boxing at range, she needs to make the most of her 4” height advantage, and most importantly she can't get discouraged by Ortiz's work rate, aggression or toughness. If the challenger can't keep Ortiz at range then we suspect the title will be going back to Mexico. Unfortunately we suspect Ortiz will just know that bit too much and be that bit too good for Yoshikawa, though we wouldn't be surprised to see this being very close on the cards with Yoshikawa having a good start before Ortiz takes over in the middle of the fight and does enough to retain her title.
(Image courtesy of http://www.ynana.jp)
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)
This coming Saturday in Mexico fight fans will be treat to a triple header of inter-continental bouts between Asian fighters and Mexican's.
The headline bout is a fantastic clash between former world champion Rodrigo Guerrero and unbeaten Japanese fighter Takahiro Shigee though before that clash we get a female world title fight between talented Mexican Anabel Ortiz (14-3, 2) and little known Filipino challenger Norj Guro (7-3-1, 4).
Ortiz is a name who will be known to Asian fans, specifically Japanese fans, courtesy of her fights with Nanako Kikuchi, Naoko Fujioka and Etsuko Tada. Those bouts all showed Ortiz to be a very competitive fighter and despite losing to Fujioka she has bounced back very well to establish herself as one of, if not the, best female Minimumweight on the planet.
Sadly for Ortiz she hasn't been able to prove herself too much since beating Tada for the WBA female Minimumweight title in what was viewed as a very narrow and close contest. It was a great win Ortiz, especially as it came in Japan, but it was one that should have seen the women rematching rather than both moving on to battle much lesser foes.
Whilst it's harsh to describe any fighter as an undeserving challenger it's a description that does fit for Guro who really has done little to deserve a shot at the WBA female Minimumweight title that Ortiz currently holds. In fact there are few challengers less worth than Guro who doesn't just lack notable wins but also lacks bouts with notable opponents, other than Riyo Togo who stopped Guro in 4 rounds.
Whilst the Togo bout is the most significant one in the 11 fight career of Guro it's also one that brings something else to our attention, Guro has never fought at 105lbs before. In fact her lowest bout, her only one at 108lbs, was more than 2 years ago!
Looking at her career so far there is nothing that Guro has that Ortiz can't handle. Guro hasn't got world class power, speed, skills or any other attribute that could defeat Ortiz who, in front of her own fans, will put on a show.
We're hoping that Ortiz will, following an almost certain victory over Guro, rematch Etsuko Tada or move on to bouts with Ayaka Miyao, Su Yun Hong or Yuko Kuroki. Those fights would actually matter unlike this one, and if it was a higher profile bout we're certain that their would be outrage over Ortiz fighting Guro just like their was outrage surrounding the Danny Garcia Vs Rod Salka bout in the US.
(Image courtesy of notifght)
Just over 2 and a half years ago it seemed Asian fans had seen all they were going to get to see of Mexican Anabel Ortiz (12-3, 2). She had just been stopped by the excellent Naoko Fujioka and lost her WBC Minimumweight title in what was just her second defense of the title.
Since then however Ortiz has proven her ability and found a way to get back on top of the boxing world and back in the mind of the boxing public.
Ortiz did that in her last bout, a bout in which she upset the previously unbeaten Etsuko Tada for the WBA Minimumweight title, a title Ortiz defends for the first time on November 19th in Jeju, South Korea.
Fighting for the second successive time on a Koki Kameda undercard Ortiz will be fighting South Korea's very own Hye-Soo Park (3-6-1, 1) in what, on paper, appears to be a mismatch.
Despite the record of Park being appalling for a world title challenger there are some things that oddly make this bout at least a little bit interesting. Firstly is the fact Park is on a 3 fight unbeaten run, the longest unbeaten streak of her career. In fact when you consider she lost 6 of her first 7 contests it's a somewhat impressive career turn around. One that becomes more impressive when you consider she has won the PABA Super Flyweight title.
The fact Park has claimed any title at Super Flyweight brings some intrigue into this contest considering that she'll be the bigger women going in to this contest. Sure she is the less skilled but the size advantage may be able to help her somewhat against a fighter who did struggle in her most notable bout against a naturally bigger foe.
The final thing Park has in her favour is the fact she's fighting in Korea where she may get favourable crowd reactions.
Unfortunately for Park the positives are very limited and it'd be a genuine shock if the talented Ortiz gives away her title here. We don't expect the light hitting Ortiz to force a stoppage but we do expect this to be incredibly one sided in favour of the Mexican who will be fighting in her fourth bout in Asia.
As mentioned above this will be one of the chief support bouts for Koki Kameda's up coming title defense in which Koki fights Korean Jung-Oh Son in what will be the first male world title fight in Korea in a number of years.
Here we preview the key female title bouts involving an Asian fighter.