The WBO, following in the footsteps of the WBA and the WBC, have now started to recognise the 102lb Atomweight division. It's a division which has given us champions like Momo Koseki, Ayaka Miyao and Mari Ando and this weekend we see Jessebelle Pagaduan (6-0, 4) and Nao Ikeyama (13-3-1, 4) attempting to become the latest Atomweight world title holder.
The unbeaten Pagaduan,from the Philippines is an ambitious 29 year old looking to win a world title in just her 7th professional bout. Sure that's not a record for female boxing it's still ambitious and a sign that she knows she has to make up for lost time, especially considering that she's not the most active of fighters with just 6 bouts in 2 years from her debut.
Fighting from the southpaw stance Pagaduan is naturally heavy handed. Sure her competition, so far, has been poor but she's far from a poor fighter and in fact he biggest problem so far has been with the with the 102lb weight division as opposed to any of her opponents thus far.
Whilst the Filipino is unbeaten and in her physical prime the same cannot possibly be said of Ikeyama who 44 years old, has fought just once in the last 3 years and last scored a win of note 4 years ago when she defeated Masae Akitaya. Sure she has the more proven record and the more notable victories but she's certainly a fighter a long way removed from any of those big wins.
At her best Ikeyama was world class and her opponents read like a who's who of the Atomweight division. Momo Koseki, Ayaka Miyao, Akitaya, Ji Hyun Park. Unfortunately we can't possibly think she's even a shadow of the fighter she once was. In fact if anything she's probably "even older" in terms of boxing years than her 44 actual years, especially considering she has to make 102lbs, an incredibly low weight for this fight.
Ikeyama has always been tough, and she'll need to be tough again here to see out the distance though unfortunately for her we don't see her legs holding out for 10 rounds against a younger, bigger more energetic fighter in the form of Pagaduan who we think will either take a wide decision or a very late stoppage with father time being too much for Ikeyama.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)