On May 14th fans in Kyoto get the chance to see two female fighters trading blows as they battle for the WBO female Light Flyweight title. In one corner will be local hopeful Tamao Ozawa (12-3, 4) whilst the other corner will have Korean visitor Su Yun Hong (14-1-1, 7), who looks to become a 2-weight world champion.
Of the two fighters the 30 year old Hong is the more well known. She debuted back in 2010 and become one of the more notable Korean's of recent years. She's a talented southpaw based in Hwaseong City and has been known on the world stage for around 5 years. Her first title was the WIBA Light Flyweight title but she really made her mark by winning the WBO female Minimumweight title in June 2012, when she beat Teeraporn Pannimit in Macau.
As the WBO female Minimumweight champion Hong was one of the faces of Korean boxing and made 2 defenses of the belt, including a split decision win over Mari Ando, before losing the belt to teenager Mako Yamada in 2014. Following the loss to Yamada Hong moved up in weight, and reclaimed the WIBA title which she has held since October 2014, defending it 4 times.
Although not well known by Western fight fans Hong does hold some decent wins, but her loss to Yamada showed her limitations, with Yamada ripping the title from the Korean. Also needs to be noted that her opponents since the Yamada bout haven't been great and she hasn't fought in over a year, since beating Filipino veteran Jujeath Nagaowa.
Aged 31 Ozawa is the slightly older fighter, and the one with the less impressive looking record. Despite that she probably starts the bout as a fighter full of hunger and as someone who will see this as their chance to win a world title, adding it to an OPBF title. Talking about that OPBF title that belt was up at Super Flyweight, where she beat Terumi Nuki for the belt, and it's worth noting that Ozawa has fought much of her career at 115lbs, where she has suffered all 3 of her losses.
Although Ozawa has been stopped 2 times during her career, including a blow out to Tomoko Kawanishi and a 2nd round loss to Kai Johnson, she did recently prove her toughness by going 10 rounds with Mariana Juarez in Mexico last May.
Ozawa hasn't proven herself at world class, yet, but moving down in weight to Light Flyweight might well help her do so, and her last two bouts where at Flyweight where she does look like a more imposing fighter than she had at Super Flyweight. If she can make Light Flyweight comfortably she could end up being a very imposing fighter at the weight class.
On paper Hong should be favoured, she has the better record and is the more proven fighter, but we suspect that the move down in weight by Ozawa will really help her here and we're predicting a win for the Japanese fighter, who will be strongly supported by the fans in Kyoto. Hong may be the more naturally talented fighter, but we're expecting to see the local take home the decision here.
Female boxing, at least in Asia, seems to have been very slow to kick off after the new year with next to no really notable bouts having taken to place. That's not to say that we've had no bouts but in terms of big bouts, we've sadly had nothing. No world title bouts, no OPBF title bouts and no really interesting contender style bouts. It's been disappointing.
Thankfully on February 9th things change as unbeaten fighters collide in the first Asian female title bout of the 2014.
In one corner will be the defending WBO Minimumweight champion Su-Yun Hong (9-0, 5), who will be seeking the 3rd defense of the title belt she claimed back in June 2012. In the other corner will Japan's unbeatn Mako Yamada (6-0, 2) who will be taking part in her first title bout of any variety.
On paper this should be an easy contest for Hong. Not only is she fighting at home in South Korea but she's also the more experienced, more tested, more powerful and so far more impressive. She really should be a clear favourite, though Yamada certainly won't be a push over.
Despite being the favourite the 26 year old southpaw, defending her belt against a second successive Japanese challenger, will know that she needs to be at the top of her game. Fighters with unbeaten records don't fight like they want to give up their "0" but will instead do all they can to remain unbeaten, and if they are fighting in a title bout they will do all they can to win the belt as well. This was exactly what Hong did when she was 6-0 herself and went on to beat Teeraporn Pannimit for the title.
Since winning the title Hong hasn't been the most active with just 2 defenses, a 5th round TKO over Buangern OnesongchaiGym and a split decision over Mari Ando. Those 15 rounds haven't been a lot considering she won the title well over 18 months ago, and she may well be suffering from some ring rust if she's not stayed active in the gym.
Aged 19 Yamada is the young and fast rising jewel of Japanese female boxing. She turned professional back in 2012 aged just 17, and defeated an unbeaten fighter on debut. Since then she has gone from strength to strength scoring a notable 81 second blow out over Yinglek Sithsaithong and an impressive decision over Mika Iwakawa.
Yamada's most recent performance, an 8 round decision over Chamagorn Sithsaithong, was arguably her best as she went 8 rounds and controlled the bout whilst acquiring much needed experience over a longer distance. Prior to that bout she had had just 18 rounds experience and really needed to get rounds under her belt. Despite having so few fights however she will feel her activity, 6 fights in less than 2 years, will have served her very well and may active as a very valuable advantage for the challenger.
The reason why Yamada has effectively been fast tracked to a world title fight isn't her boxing experience but in fact her kick boxing experience. As a kick boxer the youngster ran up an incredible record in the amateurs. She continued in to the pros though appears to be set on making a name for herself as a professional boxer and a victory over Hong would certainly allow her to do that.
If anything will be testing to Hong it's the "non-boxing" experience of Yamada who was very accomplished in other combats sports. She knows how to look after herself, she knows how to fight and she knows what it feels like to be hit. She isn't a "19 year old novice" despite what some may think. If Hong mistakes Yamada for a young novice it will bite her.
We however expect Hong to know all about Yamada's past and know she's in with a very good rival. If she does show the right respect to Yamada we think Hong will see out some issues in the early rounds, using her straight accurate shots and movement before taking over the bout late on as she moves through the gears and makes Yamada pay for her lack of late round experience. We don't think the champion will stop the challenger, who is tough, but we do expect the decision to be a clear, though hard fought one.
Had Yamada managed to get a few more 8 rounders under her belt we think that could have made things a lot more interesting though we assume she'll learn more here, win or lose, than almost any other bout could have taught her.
Courtesy of http://www.koreaboxing.co.kr
It's rare in the west for a female world title to get an equal billing on a major televised card but that's exactly what's happening on August 18th as Su-Yun Hong (8-0, 5) defends her WBO Minimumweight title on KBS Sports.
Hong, sharing the televised broadcast with OPBF Light Welterweight champion Min-Wook Kim, will be facing Mari Ando (10-5, 5) of Japan, a former WBA Atomweight champion. in a bout that we've got to admit we're pretty excited about.
Courtesy of Boxrec.com
Although footage of Hong is hard to come by we know that she's an incredibly classy southpaw who throws delightful straight punches with real snap on them. She's a proven would level fighter who holds one or two notable victories and is widely regarded as one of the top 5 fighters in the 105lb division.
The Korean's victory over Thailand's Teeraporn Pannimit is by far the best on her record and it was a commanding victory scoring a very dominant decision.
On Ando's record there are of course 5 losses, including 2 recent ones to Akaya Miyao. She has, as mentioned above, been the WBA Atomweight, 102lb, champion though there is a pretty solid step up from the rather thin Atomweight division to the tougher Minimumweight division where most smaller women do fight.
Although Ando herself appears to be hard hitter though it's fair to say to say her power hasn't really carried up to the world level. Her 5 stoppages have all come against complete novices and with that in mind we're struggling to see her really having an effect on Hong who appears to be a very special fighter.
We're going to say that we expect to see Hong retaining her title via a decision, though wouldn't be shocked to see Ando really struggle down the stretch as the classy work of Hong begins to pay dividends.
Here we preview the key female title bouts involving an Asian fighter.