Last weekend we saw two of the truly elite female fighters face off for a female Flyweight title, as Jessica Chavez and Naoko Fujioka traded blows for the WBC crown. Despite high expectations for that bout it ended up being a stinker with Chavez doing her best to spoil and Fujioka doing her best to look for a 1-punch KO, resulting in a frustrating and messy bout that lacked drama. This coming Sunday, just 8 days after that highly anticipated stinker, we get another female Flyweight title fight, as the once beaten Nana Yoshikawa (6-1, 4) takes on former Light Flyweight champion Eun Hye Lee (8-0, 3).
For the 38 year old Yoshikawa this will be her second world title bout, following a loss to Anabel Ortiz last year. Since that kiss Yoshikawa has fought twice, stopping two limited opponents. Although Yoshikawa was embarrassed by Ortiz she has moved up form 105lbs to 112lbs and let her body fill out rather than continue to try and make a lower weight. At 112lbs she is a fully fledged fighter and can rely on her skills, which are really solid courtesy of a very strong amateur background. She's not close to the level of Fujioka, and we dare saw Chaoz Minowa would beat her already, but she's accomplished, confident and has been developing with good training in Mexico.
Whilst Yoshikawa is talented we can't ignore than fact she is 38 years old. Yeah she's still younger than Fujioka, who we still view as one of the top female fighters on the planet at 41 years old, At that sort of age fighters do decline and it's fair to say that it's now or never for Yoshikawa, who turned professional when she was 35. A loss here will likely be the end of her dreams of being a champion. That's a double edged sword though, the age may inspire her to put it all out there, refusing to losing with out giving everything, or it could simply be a case of trying too much too late in her career.
Aged 33 the Korean visitor is the much younger fighter though she's fighting outside of Korea for the first time and will also be ending a 12 month break from the ring, a break that has seen her career being plagued by financial problems. Those problems have not only left her being inactive but also saw her having to give up the WBO female Light Flyweight title, after seeing a bout with Louisa Hawton fall through multiple times. In fairness Hawton would have been a real handful for Lee but it would still have been nice to have seen that bout happen.
Having previously held a world title at 108lbs Lee will be looking to become a 2-weight world champion, however her competition so far hasn't been great and her most notable wins, over Eun Young Huh and Ploynapa Sakrungrueng are hardly outstanding, even for female for boxing. She looked in control of both of those bouts but neither has really proven her as a world class fighter, and both of those notable wins has been stopped by the naturally smaller Momo Koseki, with being stopped quicker by Koseki than by Lee. Don't get us wrong, she's good, but she's not outstanding and she lacks any sort of break out, world class performance.
We think, with home advantages and the pressure of needing to perform, Yoshikawa should take this, She won't have it all her own way but should be favoured to sneak a competitive decision. However the winner should be careful with Fujioka making it clear she wants a Flyweight title and likely seeing the winner of this as a better, more suitable target than fighting on the road, especially after last weekend's hugfest. Neither Yoshikawa or Lee would stand a chance against Fujioka and so neither will want to catch her eye, or the beating that the Japanese boxing queen would give them.
Th bout will almost certainly be better than last weeks, which was such a huge disappointment, but don't expect to see two world class fighters in the ring, as both are a long way from the divisional elite.
A new is upon us and title fights are back on January 10th when we get the first world title bout of the year. The bout in question sees Korean world champion Eun Hye Lee (8-0, 3) defending her WBO Female Light Flyweight title for the first time and battling against Touted Australian destroyer Louisa Hawton (6-0, 3). For Lee the bout will be her first since last September's title win over Ploynapa Sakrungrueng whilst Hawton, who had previously chased Momo Koseki, will be in her first world title bout and see her return to the ring for the first time since last August.
The 33 year old Korean has come through the local scene claiming a national title in her third professional bout, back in 2012, and a regional title two years later before finally taking a world title last year. Whilst she has progressed the typical way she does lack wins of real quality with Ploynapa being her best win so far, not an outstanding win. In total she has beaten just two fighters with winning records and has failed to show her ability is genuinely top tier. Despite that she has rarely lost more than a couple of rounds in a fight and appears to fight to her strengths.
Australian fighter Hawton debuted less than 2 years ago and has raced up her record. Through 2015 she faced 3 fighters with winning records, including former world title challenger Angor Onesongchaigym and Jujeath Nagaowa, with Nagaowa being the only fighter to last more than 4 rounds with Hawton. In the ring Hawton is a confident, fast and powerful fighter. There are some technical chinks in her defense but watching her attack is worrying given her ability and explosiveness. Getting into a fight with her isn't a smart idea, but from watching her she does seem able to force her style on to fights. Of course there is a question regarding her stamina though it's fair to say that she's never had to prove it given her style and dominance so far.
Coming into this one it's fair to say both fighters are facing their stiffest opponent so far. Neither fighter is amazingly proven and although both are unbeaten neither has faced anyone of real quality. Saying that however we have been more impressed by what we've seen of Hawton and suspect her explosive aggression will be the difference between the two here.
It's not often that a world title bout goes completely under-the-radar but it appears that one really has done. That's the upcoming WBO female Light Flyweight title fight between unbeaten Korean Eun Hye Lee (7-0, 2) and Thai youngster Ploynapa Sakrungrueng (12-5-1, 1). The bout, which is set to take place in Lee's homeland of Korea on June 27th, has hardly had a mention by those in the boxing press, and that's despite the bout now taking place on a rescheduled date after originally being announced for May 23rd. It had to be put back a month following an injury suffered by Lee though the bout was so under-the-radar that no one seemed to even know about the injury.
Thankfully here we are and the bout now looks to be a go-er with Lee getting her first world title fight and Ploynapa returning to South Korea, where she has been unsuccessful on 3 previous visits.
The title's vacant coming in to this bout, following Argentinian legend Yesica Yolanda Bopp vacating the belt, though that won't take anything away from the desire of the two fighters involved in the bout, who will both be looking to claim their first world title.
Although Lee is fighting in her first world title bout she has got title experience. The 32 year old has held, and defended, the WBO Asia Pacific female Flyweight title. Of course this bout is at 108lbs and not 112lbs however the loss of those 4lbs shouldn't be much of a problem for the Korean who has also held the South Korean Light Flyweight title.
Sadly, though not unexpectedly, footage of Lee is hard to come by. What we do have is her bout with Rathsada Sor Worasin. In that bout she looked rather well schooled with nice hand speed, sharp combinations and, more notably, she looked huge at the weight. At times Rathsada forced her back but more often than not the Korean looked in control, even on the back foot. Although she did seem a good boxer-mover she also showed an ability to trade when she had to and was able to better Rathsada in every facet of the bout. Interestingly boxrec list her at 5' 4½” which is rather tall for a fighter at 112lbs. Interestingly we've since seen Rathsada in action and she actually managed to give Japan's Tomomi Takano, a very tall Super Flyweight, a tougher bout than she gave Lee.
Coming in to the bout the Thai is more experienced fighter with 18 boxing contests under her belt. She's also the much younger fighter, having turned 21 late last year. Sadly however she's also the fighter who appears to have been more “exposed” than the Korean. So far in her career she has been stopped 3 times, from her 5 losses, and has shown a lack of power with just a single stoppage win, albeit a stoppage she scored last time out.
Again footage of Ploynapa wasn't that widely available, though we did manage to come across one of her very early bouts. The bout in question was her 2011 bout with Yeon-Hee Kim, which was Ploynapa's first bout in Korea. In that bout the then 17 year old Thai looked like a promising novice but Kim seemed so much sharper and more technically capable than the Thai. To her credit the youngster acquitted herself well against her more capable foe and showed a genuine toughness, especially late on when Kim really went hunting a stoppage. Since that bout Ployanapa has, understandably, developed as a fighter and as a woman. Sadly however she has yet to score a win over a fighter with a winning record, at least according to boxrec.com who are admittedly not 100% accurate with their Thai records.
Whilst the footage of each fighter is scarce it does give us a decent read on how we suspect the fight will go. We suspect that Ploynapa will try and get close to Lee who will use her size and reach to land sharp shots at range. Up close, where Ploynapa should have the advantage, we'll see things being more competitive however we can't see Ploynapa having the strength or power to really trouble the Korean, even when the action is being fought on inside.
Our prediction is a clear win for Lee, probably by a wide decision, though a possible late stoppage shouldn't be ruled out.
Here we preview the key female title bouts involving an Asian fighter.