Although Japan has several high profile female fighters at the top of the sport it also has a number of top contenders and challengers who haven't yet managed to climb to the top of the mountain.
One such "nearly lady" has been the highly talented Light Flyweight Naoko Shibata (10-3, 3), a fighter who has twice come close to being a world champion. In fact had she been any closer in either of her losses she'd have almost certainly have tasted the belt.
On November 14th Shibata looks to make it third time lucky as she battles the unbeaten Mexican teenager Alondra Garcia (8-0, 1), a fighter stepping up massively to fight at the world level for the first time, in a fight for the IBF female Light Flyweight title.
When we say that Garcia is stepping up massively we aren't joking. To date Garcia has fought opponents with a combined record of 0-8. Yes 0 victories against 8 losses. All of her fights to date have taken place in Mexico, in fact only two have taken place outside of Jalisco and it's fair to say she has yet to face a fighter of any note, at all.
Although promising and seemingly talented Garcia is going from fighting local fighters at a very low level to suddenly fighting on the world stage against a top tier fighter. This leap is huge for Garcia.
When we said that Shibata had come close twice we really weren't joking. In September 2012 Shibata was beaten by Etsuka Tada in a WBA world title fight by scores of 96-94, 96-94 and 96-95. Just a fight later Shibata was beaten by Ibeth Zamora Silva in a WBC world title fight by split decision with scores of 96-94, 96-94 and 94-96.
Aged 32 Shibata is some 14 years older than Garcia and will know that her chances are running out. Being a close loser is still being a loser at the end of the day and if Shibata fails to score a victory here she may forever be known as "the nearly lady". The woman who can always get close but can never get over the edge.
Saying that however it'd be a shock if Shibata, an experienced and battled hardened fighter, cannot over-come the inexperienced Garcia here. We expected Garcia to have some success early on, but by the middle rounds she'll be getting broken down by Shibata's great work rate and relentless pressure. By the later rounds we imagine Garcia will be breaking at the seems and may not actually manage to see the final bell as Shibata finally wins the big one.
Here we preview the key female title bouts involving an Asian fighter.