This coming Saturday we see two fighters with misleading records facing off in a WBC female Minimumweight title fight that really could end up being an absolute barn burner.
On of those women is the defending champion Mari Ando (11-6, 5), a tough as nails fighter who has been fighting at the world level for almost 3 years. She is a former WBA Atomweight champion and has fought the likes Ayaka Miyao and Su Yun Hong, both world of whom are world class fighters
The other woman is the under-rated Yuko Kuroki (10-4-1, 6) who has shared a ring with the excellent Etsuko Tada and the talented Saemi Hanagata. She may never have won a world title but she is a talented and accomplished fighter who, at just 23, is improving drastically between fights.
The two women have a lot in common. Both lost some early, and close, fights which marked up their records in bouts some people felt they deserved to win. Both scored notable wins over Thailand's Amara Kokietgym and both are young fighters who have a lot more to give the sport. It's fair to say neither is close to their prime and neither is likely to be close to their prime for another few years. And, finally, both fighters have a similar amount of fights, wins and losses.
An initial look at the two fighters would see many favouring Ando. She has been in with Miyao twice, giving her hell in both bouts, and has been in Hong, again giving the world class fighter a tough time. Kuroki may have been in the ring with Tada but wasn't competitive. That however doesn't tell us how far along Kuroki has come in recent bouts as she's gone from a young lady to a now mature fighter. Kuroki is still young but a drastically different fighter to the one who fought Tada.
Ando is an aggressive, mentally tough fighter who comes for a fight. She applies pressure, she tries to turn fights into a tear up and makes them action packed. She may not be the most technically skilled but she's always exciting and she's always looking for a fight in the ring. Less of a boxer and more of a born fighter.
Whilst Ando is a pure fighter Kuroki is more of a boxer-puncher who uses intelligent footwork to line up he straight land hands. She may not be the most technically correct fighter but she is more of a boxer than Ando. She's good speed, like Ando she's proven to be tough and, as with most southpaws, she looks like tricky fighter to beat.
Going in to this fight we really view it as a 50-50 type of fight, though lean, ever so slightly, towards Ando who is the more experienced fighter, especially over 10 rounds, and is the home town fighter, though we wouldn't even dream of betting on this contest which is really, really hard to call.
(Picture, of Mari Ando, courtesy of http://www.zukunft.co.jp)