In July 2017 we saw Terumi Nuki (10-3, 7) travel to Mexico to challenge WBC female Bantamweight champion Mariana Juarez (49-9-4, 18), in what was Nuki's first world title bout and first bout outside of Japan. Nuki came up short that night, losing 98-92 on all 3 score cards, but showed enough to remain in the world title mix, getting a shot at the IBF Super Flyweight title just 7 months later, again losing a decision.
This coming Saturday Nuki returns to Mexico to have a rematch with Juarez, hoping the experienced of her two world title defeats will help her avenge her loss to Juarez and become a world champion at the third time of asking. Juarez however will be looking to prove she is still the better fighter, still the better boxer and at the age of 38 is still a sensational fighter.
Juarez, although past her best, is seeking her 5th defense of the title that she won in April 2017 and is currently enjoying a 6 fight winning run with victories over the likes of Irma Garcia, Alesia Graf and Gabriela Bouvier. They aren't the best wins of her career, as she holds wins over Tenkai Tsunami Arely Mucino and Shindo Go, but they are solid wins on the record of any female fighter. As a professional Juarez is one of the most distinguished and iconic female fighters of her generation and has been one of the faces of female boxing in Latin America for the better part of a decade.
In the ring Juarez is a clever boxer-mover. She doesn't have much power, with only 18 stoppages in 62 fights, but she's got a fantastic engine, great movement, good skills and knows how to control the ring and her opponents. She's not unstoppable, and has been stopped 3 times during her career, but she is tough, she knows how to survive when she needs to. The big question however is how much longer can she keep delivering. She's been a professional since 1998, been in more than 60 fights and over 450 rounds, and sooner or later that type of career will catch up with her.
At 29 years old and with less than 5 and a half years of professional experience under her belt and with just 60 rounds of professional fight experience Nuki is a total novice compared to Juarez. She is however a puncher with her last 5 wins all coming by stoppage, and someone who is building her experience the hard way, by fighting world class fighters on the road. Sadly though her best wins to date have been over the likes of Kai Johnson and Nongbua Lookpraiaree, hardly fighters to prepare someone for world title fights.
With Nuki's power and physicality she can be a nightmare at this level if fights stand and fight her fight. Sadly though she hasn't yet developed the skills to force her fight onto her opponents, and when they box and move she's left chasing shadows. If she's managed to learn how to cut the distance and trap opponents she can give Juarez real problems here, though that's a huge if.
We suspect that Juarez's legs might not be quite what they were a year ago, that could help Nuki get her in range and and unload. We do however feel like Juarez will have to have aged a lot to make this close and instead we suspect that whilst Nuki will have more success than she did in the first meeting, she will still come up short here.
This coming weekend we get the chance to see female boxing come to the fore for Asian fight fans as Japan's Terumi Nuki (9-1, 6) takes on legendary Mexican Mariana Juarez (45-9-4, 17), in a bout for Jaurez's WBC female Bantamweight title. For Nuki it's the biggest bout of her career, and a chance to define her career, whilst Juarez looks to further enhance her legacy as one of the modern greats of female boxing.
Although it can be hard to call any female fighter a legend the phrase certainly does apply to Juarez, who draws a huge audience and a lot of attention in Mexico and has done for years. She has managed to cross over, beyond boxing, thanks in part to her sexy looks, which has seen her feature in Playboy, but has also continued to have huge success in the ring.
Debuting back in 1998, as an 18 year old, Juarez struggled early in her career losing 2 of her first 3. In fact after 22 bouts she was still struggling to really make a name for herself, with a 14-5-3 (8) record. From then however she has gone 31-4-1 defining herself as a boxing legend in Mexico. Not only are the numbers impressive but so to are the opponents with Juarez notching up wins against Esmeralda Moreno, Simona Galassi, Gabriela Bouvier, Arely Mucino, Shindo, Tenkai Tsunami and Irma Garcia whilst claiming world titles at Flyweight and Bantamweight.
At her best Juarez is a talented boxer who can box brawl, she has a great engine and can do pretty much everything other than really bang. At 37 however and with a 5-2-1 record in her last 8 there is signs that she is coming to the end of her long career and that she could get old over-night, as we recently saw with Manny Pacquiao.
The 28 year old Nuki is a real boxing baby with just 37 rounds since making her debut just over 4 years ago. To date she has fought just two title bouts, both at Oriental level, and has gone 1-1 (1) in those bouts. To date her best win has been at Oriental level, with that being a 3rd round stoppage over Thai foe Nongbua Lookpraiaree, and she has never scored a win of note at Bantamweight.
Although a fighter with plenty of promise this is a massive step up for Nuki, who has never shown the ability to really impress at world level. There is potential for her to develop into a world class fighter, but she has never shown enough of that potential to think that she is ready for a world title bout, and in fact she would probably have been best served with a few Oriental title defenses first. She hasn't had to cope with a true all-rounder like Juarez, and she has never been beyond 8 rounds, giving her a lot of firsts here.
Juarez could get old, as mentioned above, but the reality is that she still looks fresh enough and hungry enough in recent bouts to easily over-come someone like Nuki, who is simply stepping up too much too fast. We think Nuki will have moments, and will be able to survive the 10 rounds, but will come up short against the Mexican fighting icon.
Here we preview the key female title bouts involving an Asian fighter.