On August 20th fight fans will be filling up the Komagatani Gym in Hyogo to watch an all-Japanese WBO Minimumweight title bout between teenager Riku Kano and veteran Katsunari Takayama. That bout is a really interesting one, and one we've been looking forward to since it was first announce. That however isn't the only world title bout on the show with a WBO female Light Flyweight title bout also taking place as the unbeaten Kei Takenaka (11-0, 3) battles against against fellow unbeaten Louisa Hawton (6-0, 3).
Hawton was first brought to our attention by her team more than a year ago, with her then targeting the WBC Atomweight champion Momo Koseki. She then turned her focus towards the WBO Light Flyweight title and was seemingly set to fight Korean Eun Hye Lee, but that bout fell through several times. As a result of Lee's issues the title became vacant and Hawton finally got a shot arranged, though she would have to face Takenaka instead of the Korean.
From the footage available of Hawton she's a genuine pocket rocket. She is aggressive, exciting and comes to fight. The sort of fighter that fight fans love to see in action. Unfortunately as a Light Flyweight she is tiny and has typically been fighting as an Atomweight, at 102lbs. And even there she has looked small.
Despite being a novice Hawton does hold some genuinely notable wins. She has already stopped Angor OnesongchaiGym, who fought Momo Koseki for the WBC title in 2014, and out pointed Filipino veteran Jujeath Nagaowa last year. Sadly she hasn't fought in close to a year, following the multiple issues with getting Lee in the ring, but she has been busy with training camps and should be sharp, though could well be over-trained.
Whilst Hawton is moving up in weight Takenaka is a definitive Light Flyweight. Her career weights have been between 106¾lbs and 110¼lbs and has claimed her only title at the weight, the OPBF female title which claimed in 2014 and made two defenses of. Unfortunately whilst she is a naturally bigger fighter than Hawton her record completely lacks in terms of solid wins, with her best victories coming against very poor Thai's.
In the ring Takenaka can certainly fight, she's part of the Takesago gym and has received a lot of help in her development, with training and exhibitions in Mexico but she has yet to show the effects of that development against good opposition. Hopefully for her however sharing the ring with people like Anabel Ortiz has rubbed off and helped her develop her tools.
Given the style of Hawton we're expecting to see Takenaka pushed all the way and in fact pushed harder than she's ever been pushed. Saying that however we do think natural size difference will play a big part and Takenaka will likely come through with a very close win, a win that may well be partially thanks to fighting at home.
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.
Here we preview the key female title bouts involving an Asian fighter.