It's not often that female boxing has a boxrec "5 Star" bout. It's even rarer that those "5 star" female bouts are in the east. On November 13th however that's just what we we get courtesy of Shirai-Gushiken Gym.
The show, dubbed "The Kanmuriwashi Fight vol.47", features arguably the most anticipated bout in Japanese female boxing history. That's because two well known championship level fighters collide as WBA Super Flyweight champion Naoko Yamaguchi (22-3-3, 18) takes on former WBC Minimumweight champion Naoko Fujioka (10-0, 6).
Some bouts have an aura of excitement and danger and this is one of them.
The defending champion, the 35 year old Yamaguchi, is seen as one of the hardest punching females in boxing right now. Her left to the body is a vicious winding puncher whilst her straight right upstairs is one of the most devastating shots in female boxing.
Not only does Yamaguchi posses serious power but she's also very willing to let her hands go, especially when she smells blood. When she has her prey injured she will throw the kitchen sink at them and attempt to finish the bout there and then.
Although the champion has three losses on her record, including two by stoppage, only one of those defeats has come in the last 5 years and that was an excusable loss to the amazing Ana Maria Torres, a protege of the Morales camp in Mexico. Since the loss Torres we've seen Yamaguchi go 7-0 (5) including 3-0 (1) in world title fights and 5-0 (3) in title fights. A scary thought for any opponent.
Although Yamaguchi genuinely scares us, it's fair to say that the unbeaten Fujioka won't be scared in the slightest. At 38 years old she is the older of the two fighters and also the naturally smaller jumping from Minimumweight to Super Flyweight. Those two disadvantages are genuinely huge though she has a few tricks of her own.
Firstly Naoka is a very talented boxer-puncher. Her movement is not only quicker than Yamaguchi's but it also looks a lot more natural and she appears to be able to box on the move, something that couldmake Yamaguchi look silly. She's not only got fast feet bust also fast hands and is technically a better boxer than Yamaguchi.
It's also worth noting that Fujioka, whilst coming up 3 weights from where she has made her name, is taller than Yamaguchi and likely has a longer reach. Two surprising bits of information considering the fact Yamaguchi would have been expected to be bigger, taller, longer.
Whilst Yamaguchi is certainly on a great run following her loss to Torres, Fujioka is herself on a great run. Not only has she gone 10 fights unbeaten be she has also gone 3-0 in world title fights and 5-0 in all title bouts. Those victories have seen her defeating notable names such as Naoko Shibata, Anabel Ortiz and Victoria Argueta three very good fighters. Sure they weren't as good as Torres but they were all very credible opponents.
This is effectively a match up between a naturally bigger and more powerful destructive fighter and a smaller but very highly skilled boxer-puncher. When a fighter tends to jump several divisions they struggle. No matter how skilled they are, they struggle.
We imagine that Fujioka will be the next fighter to find that jumping up too many weight classes at once is different. She'll certainly have her moments but we think that sooner or later Yamaguchi's power will connect and Fujioka will slowly be worn down in what promises to be a genuinely memorable contest.
Here we preview the key female title bouts involving an Asian fighter.