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.
On December 17th fight fans at the Kyuden Gym in Fukuoka get the chance to see a really intriguing female title fight, as two champions collide in what could be a passing of the torch bout or further proof of one fighter's legendary status in female boxing. The bout will see Yuko Kuroki (17-4-1, 8) defending her WBC female Minimumweight, for the 6th time, taking on the legendary Momo Koseki (23-2-1, 9), with Koseki looking to add a divisional world title to her collection.
The 26 year old won the title back in May of 2014 and her 3 year reign has seen her defeating the likes of Katia Gutierrez, Masae Akitaya, Nancy Franco and Mari Ando and really showing that she is a world class fighter. Although her record is less than perfect she has gone unbeaten for more than 4 years, and is 8-0-1 (3) since her last loss, which came when she was just 22. Kuroki has really matured in that time to become a good boxer-mover and she has shown her toughness, her ability and almost a new found confidence and self belief.
Despite being on an impressive run Kuroki perhaps lacks a real defining win. She has good wins, Franco and Gutierrez are very good wins in fact, but there is no monster win on her record and nothing that really has gone and told the division “I am the queen”, a win over Koseki would do that, and would really allow Kuroki to make a statement.
Whilst Kuroki is looking for a defining win the same can't be said of Koseki who has had an incredible career. The 35 year old from Tokyo is riding a 24 fight unbeaten run which has seen her record 17 world title defense, unify the WBC and WBA title and holds wins over almost every notable fighter in the division, such as Ayaka Miyao, Nao Ikeyama and Saemi Hanagata. She has been a staple of the 102lb division almost a decade and both of her losses came in very close bouts in Thailand.
In the ring Koseki is a tough as old boots fighter with a brawling action style. She comes to fight and presses the bout, with a combination of rough tactics, under-rated boxing skills, great energy and fantastic use of being big and strong. Although she's moving up in weight here, by 3lbs, she is a very big Atomweight and she has looked bigger than former Light Flyweight champion Naoya Shibata, in fact she looks like she would be very competitive fighting at Flyweight, if not Super Flyweight.
To date Kuroki has had things mostly her own way, at least in the last few years. Here however she's in with a fighter who will be coming with a point to prove, and a statement to make, a fighter given a chance to become a 2 weight champion. Kuroki will be the home fighter, the fighter who is naturally bigger and the fighter who will be defending her title, she will however be up against an elite level fighter, and we suspect Koseki's aggression and world class energy and toughness will simply be too much for the champion. Koruoki will have moments will her skills, but will be out worked, and out pointed.
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.
In May 2014 Japanese youngster Yuko Kuroki (16-4-1, 8) made good on her early career promise by defeating Mari Ando (13-9, 6) to claim the WBC female Minimumweight title. That win put Kuroki on the proverbial map an opened doors for her to grow into a genuinely notable fighter. Since that title win she has made the most of her opportunity and scored notable wins over Katia Gutierrez, Masae Akitaya and Nancy Franco, whilst recording 4 defenses of the title whilst Ando has struggled.
This coming Sunday the two women will face off again with Kuroki looking to record her 5th defense of the title and Ando looking to revive a career that is now struggling, in fact Ando has gone 2-2 since the first bout and is now very much in last chance saloon.
Kuroki really has gone from strength to strength since winning the title. She was always a fighter with a lot of potential, as early career performances against the likes of Naoko Shibata, Mika Oda and Etsuko Tada showed, but it wasn't until she became the champion that we really got the chance to see how good she was. Since becoming the champion she really has looked like a truly brilliant fighter with under-rated skills, great work rate, hurtful power and the sort of building confidence that could make her a real nightmare against other world class fighters in the years to come.
Whilst Kuroki isn't one of the stars of female boxing, and she's not one of the truly elite among the Japanese female fighters, like Momo Koseki or Naoko Fujioka, she is a top class fighter who is showing all the signs of becoming a top fighter for the years to come.
With Ando the best looks to be behind her. The 29 year old struggled to get going, losing her first 2 bouts, before defeating Amara Kokietgym in September 2011 to claim the WBA Atomweight title and became a world champion. Her reign however was a short one, losing the belt in her second defense to Ayaka Miyao. Despite losing the WBA title to Miyao we did see Ando continue to compete at the world level, losing in title challengers against both Miyao and Su Yun Hong, before claiming the WBC female Minimumweight title with a win against Jasseth Noriega in 2013, lsoing that title in her first defense to Kuroki.
Since losing the title to Kuroki we've seen Ando come up short against Zai ong Ju and Ibeth Zamora Silva, with Silva stopping Ando in the 6th round of a horribly one-sided contest. That loss to Silva seemed to suggest that the hard career of Ando was taking it's toll, though may well have said more about how good Silva is, with many regarding her as one of the truly elite female fighters.
With Kuroki claiming a win in the first fight, and improving whilst Ando has seemingly regressed, the winner her will almost certainly be Kuroki again. The question however will be whether the champion scores a stoppage or another decision. We think Kuroki will go on to stop Ando here, with Ando likely to retire afterwards.
The Atomweight division is the most obscure division in boxing, and lacks the depth of many other divisions. Saying that however we do get some interesting fights at the weight, like 2015's unification bout that saw Momo Koseki unify her WBC title with the WBA title then held by Ayaka Miyao. That was the biggest bout in the division's short history and was a thrilling contest with both showing their ability.
This coming Tuesday we see the loser of that bout, Ayaka Miyao (21-6-1, 5) attempt to claim the WBO title to become the division's first 2-time champion. Miyao however isn't the only fighter looking for a slice of history as her opponent, current WBO champion Nao Ikeyama (17-3-2, 4) looks to extend her record as the oldest active world champion and the oldest ever Japanese world champion, with the veteran now being 47 years old!
Ikeyama won the title a little more than 2 years ago, becoming the oldest Japanese world champion at the age of 44. Since then she has recorded 4 defenses of the title, beating Masae Akitaya, Norj Guro and Jujeath Nagaowa whilst fighting to a draw with the vert capable Saemi Hanagata. Not only has she been defending her title but in December 2015 she became the first world champion to defend a world title in Sri Lanka.
Whilst Ikeyama is 47 she is great physical shape, has an excellent engine and solid skills. She's not an amazing boxer in a pure boxing sense but she's the type of fighter who is refusing to give up the title and is seemingly getting better with age, like a fine wine.
Aged 33 Miyao seems to have been around for years, originally one of the stars of the Ohashi gym she has recently transferred to the Watanabe gym and will be getting her first big fight since linking up with Watanabe. Early in her career she struggled for form, beginning 4-4-1, though has subsequently gone 17-2 losing only to Naoko Shibata and the aforementioned Koseki. Against those two losses are wins against the likes of Masae Akitaya, Mari Ando, Gretchen Abaniel and Satomi Nsihimura.
In the ring Miyao has long been seen as a perpetual punching machine, though has calmed that non-stop output in recent years to land some heavier shots and stand her ground more. That change in style has made some of her fights more exciting and although she's not a puncher she has scored 4 stoppages in her last 6 and is showing an increasing amount of physicality to meet her output.
Although on paper it can be easy to back an in form champion it must be said that that this is set to be one of Ikeyama's toughest bouts and with Miyao being so much younger, so much fresher and so much hungrier it's hard to see anything but a title. Ikeyama won't hand over her title but Miyao will do enough to rip it away in a really fun, action bout.
On November 11th the longest reigning, active, world champion will return to the ring in search of their 17th world title defense, and look to extend their reign that began way back in August 2008. Sadly that champion is current WBC Atomweight champion Momo Koseki (22-2-1, 8), who hasn't just gone under-the-radar due to being a female but also the fact that she holds a world title in boxing's lowest professional division, which has an upper limit of 102lbs and is only competed in by female fighters.
Whilst Koseki has been the dominant fighter at 102lbs her competition has long been questioned, despite the fact she unified in 2015 and has beaten the current WBO champion. That low level of competition rears it's head again this coming Friday when she takes on little known Chie Higano (6-4, 2), who really isn't expected to give much of a challenge to Koseki.
Before we look at the hopes of the challenger a quick bit of information on the champion, who is the longest reigning champion in the sport at world level. She began her career in 2007, in Thailand, and after starting 3-2, with two controversial losses to Winyu Paradorn Gym and Samson Tor Buamas, she has gone 19-0-1 (8) beating the likes of Winyu, in a rematch, Nao Ikeyama, Jujeath Nagaowam Saemi Hanagata and Ayaka Miyao to distinguish herself as the top fighter the division has ever seen.
In the ring Koseki is a rough and tough fighter who can box or fight and is the type who doesn't mind a street fight in the ring. In recent years she has shown more inclination to boxing but has had a reputation in the past for using her head if needed. She's tough, hits relatively hard for the division and has really impressive stamina forcing opponents to work at her rate through out a bout. At 34 she is certainly on the back end of her career but the southpaw from Tokyo will be inspired by the continued shows of Naoko Fujioka, the other queen of Japanese boxing, who is remaining a top level fighter into her 40's.
Higano is a 32 year old who is taking part in her first title bout, and sadly her record sums up her limitations with 4 losses in her last 7, including defeats to Jun Yabuki, Shione Ogata and Saemi Hanagata. She hasn't beaten an opponent with a record above a 50% winning rate and has never fought in a bout scheduled for more than 6 rounds.
Whilst Higano will know this is the chance of a life time it really is like taking a bloodied mouse and throwing it into a pool of piranha's. She has done nothing to qualify for a world title bout other than being able to make the weight, and although Koseki isn't the type to beat the snot out of an opponent she is the type who will beat an opponent up. For Higano the bout isn't about winning but more about surviving and it's hard to see how she will even do that given her record so far. To her credit she has been fighting at a higher weight than the Atomweight limit but she's never faced anyone resembling Koseki.
The bout keeps the champion active, but maybe, just maybe, it's time for Koseki to move up in weight and begin to look towards a second divisional title as no one at 102lbs is fit to challenge her. Higano isn't the best challenger, but even the best won't be good enough to give Koseki a fight, barring possibly Yunoka Furukawa who is unlikely to be given a bout with Koseki anytime soon anyway.
As boxing fans we want to see the best fighters facing off, we want to really know who the best is and we love seeing fights between well matched fighters. This coming Saturday we get such a bout as WBC female Flyweight champion Jessica Chavez (27-4-3, 4) defends her belt against 3-weight champion Naoko Fujioka (15-1, 6), who will be attempting to become a 4-weight champion. The two of them are both very highly regarded and are both among the top female boxers, pound-for-pound, on the planet. To fans like ourselves, this is a treat.
Of the two fighters the more famous is probably Chavez. The 28 year old “Kika” is a 2-weight world champion who has faced a real who's who of female boxing including Ana Arrazola, Ibeth Zamora Silva, Yesica Yolanda Bopp, Esmeralda Moreno, Irma Sanchez, Tenkai Tsunami, Melissa McMorrow, Arely Mucino and Simona Galassi. Although she has suffered some losses whilst going that that list of names she has secured her place as one of the very best female fighters on the planet and has held titles at both 108lbs and 112lbs.
In the ring Chavez is a busy, active fighter who is well schooled and knows how to use the ring. She's not a puncher, or the most physically imposing, but she is very talented and has a great engine, being able to let shots got at a solid pace through out a fight. Not only is she able to up the ante late in a fight but she has every shot in the book, and doesn't mind attacking the body, standing and trading or boxing on the foot.
For the champion this will be the 4th defense of the title that she won the title a little over a year ago. She will also be looking to extend a 7 fight winning run and score another major win, further defining her career as one of the truly elite female boxers.
Of course whilst Chavez is the champion she's certainly not up against a nobody with Fujioka being a 3-weight world champion who is dropping from Bantamweight to Flyweight in an attempt to become a 4-weight champion. Interestingly her only loss to date came in her only other Flyweight world title fight, a loss to Susi Kentikian back in November 2014 for the WBA title.
Aged 41 Fujioka is certainly at the back end of her career, however she is a very young 41 year old with a professional career of just 7 years of professional experience. She was however an excellent amateur before turning professional and has been fast tracked. She claimed her first title, the OPBF female Minimumweight title in her 4th bout and her first world title bout in her 6th bout. In 2013 she jumped from 105lbs to 115lbs and dominated Naoko Yamaguchi to become a 2-weight champion. Since then she tested the water at 112lbs before claiming a world title at 118lbs.
Whilst she may not have the depth in numbers of Chavez it's fair to say that Fujioka has a strong resume herself. She holds wins over the likes of Naoko Shibata, Anabel Ortiz, Naoko Yamaguchi and Mariana Juarez and a win over Chavez would cement her standing at one of the best of her generation.
Fujioka, like the champion, is a multifacted fighter who has shown an ability to box of fight. At her best she combines both, and knows when to pick up the action, as she showed last year when she defeated Mariana Jaurez with a split decision in her only previous bout in Mexico.
What we're expecting here, when these two brilliant fighters get in the ring, is something special. Both should be very even, both are the same high and both are similar fighters in the ring. We suspect the fight will be a very well boxed bout early on though become a progressively rougher and tougher bout as the rounds pass by and the final rounds will be nothing but a high paced war. Sadly for Fujioka the bout being in Mexico will likely see the home fighter being favoured, however the fight should still be something thoroughly exciting and brilliant to watch.
Over the last 2 years or so we've seen several fighters emerge, improve and become credible fighters at various levels in the sport. One of the most remarkable developments during that time has been that of Japanese fighter Yuko Kuroki (15-4-1, 7). Back in April 2014 Kuroki was 10-4-1 and had gone 1-2-1 in her previous 4 bouts, in fact it seemed like she was going to toil on the fringes of the OPBF title scene. Since then however she has gone 5-0, claimed the WBC female Minimumweight title and scored notable wins over Mari Ando, Katia Gutierrerz, Masae Akitaya and Nancy Franco.
This coming Monday Kuroki looks to continue her reign as a world champion as she takes on Filipino title challenger Norj Guro (7-5-1, 4), who is challenging for a world title for the second time.
The champion is a fighter who has improved significantly. She's skilled, hard working, tough and knows that every fight can be a stepping stone towards becoming a better fighter. Although she has got losses on her record they have typically come to good fighters, like Naoko Shibata, Saemi Hanagata and Etsuko Tada. Those losses were set backs but they were also developmental fights allowing her to work on things, push herself and gain valuable experience in her young boxing career.
The challenger hasn't yet proven herself as being a fringe world class fighter, despite this being her second world title bout. Going through her record we see no wins of note, in fact 6 of her 7 wins have been against debutants. Notably she has been fighting at higher weights than Minimumweight but has lost to every opponent with any value, such as Riyo Togo, Hee Jung Yuh, Buakaew OnesongchaiGym, Nao Ikeyama and Jessica Chavez. Although Guro has lost every time she's fought someone with a win, she has shown her toughness and has only been stopped once, by the big punching Riyo Togo.
Coming into this one it's impossible to think that the title will be changing hands, this is a huge step backwards for the champion but should work as a launch pad to bigger and better fights. What will be interesting however will be the manner of the win. Kuroki could take a shut out win without any problems, but if she's looking to a chase a stoppage she could make a statement, doing what the brilliant Jessica Chavez couldn't do. That really has to be the target for the champion.
On paper Japan's Mari Ando (12-8, 5) has the record of a journey woman but the reality is that she's a bona-fide world level contender who has a “win some-lose some” record at the top level. In fact coming into this weekend she is 3-4 in world title bouts, a 2-weight world champion and a fighter who has been really unlucky to actually have a 12-8 record.
This weekend Ando attempts to become a 3-weight champion as she travels to Mexico to battle Ibeth Zamora Silva (24-5, 9), the current WBC female Light Flyweight champion and one of the best female fighters on the planet.
Ando is a true warrior. She has limitations but the 28 year old is a real battler who has regularly made up for her limitations with a high work rate, insane toughness and incredible will to win. That will to win has her over-come the likes of Amara Kokietgym, Maria del Refugio Jimenez Cruz and Jasseth Noriega whilst managing push fighters like Ayaka Miyao, Yuko Kuroki, Su Yun Hong and Cai Zong Ju all the way.
A big question when it comes to Ando is how she will cope at Light Flyweight. Interestingly she is 2-0 (1) above 105lbs, though this match up is a huge step up in class from her other two at the weight.
When it comes to Zamora the 27 year old really is one of the sports best female fighters. Her record is incredible, not just the numbers but also the quality of her wins which have come against the likes of Esmeralda Moreno, twice, Jessica Chavez, twice, Anabel Ortiz, Naoko Shibata and Ava Knight. Not only has she been beating top names but she's also been a 3 year reign as a world champion and has already recorded 7 defenses of her title.
In the ring Zamora can almost everything, in fact the one thing she's missing is “power” though she more than makes up for that with her ability to box, or brawl. When it comes to being adaptable she certainly has plan A, B, C and D in her locker and with a large crowd behind her and her confidence sky high it's going to take a very special fighter to beat her.
Whilst we rate Ando as being much better than her record, we can't see over-coming Zamora, especially not in Mexico
The final Asian world title bout before Christmas comes on December 20th with fans in Fukuoka being the lucky ones who get the chance to watch it. Not only is it the final title bout before Christmas but it is also a very well matched one, between two world class fighters looking to ensure their place among the top in their division for the start of 2016.
If there is something to hold against the bout it is a female bout, but it really a brilliant one as WBC female Minimumweight champion Yuko Kuroki (14-4-1, 7) defends her title against former IBF champion Nancy Franco (14-6-2, 4). For Kuroki this will be her third defense, as she looks to continue her reign that began in May 2014, whilst Franco will be looking to become a 3-time world champion.
The champion, who is regarded as one of the few fighters who really combines looks with ability, turned pro back in 2008 and surprisingly lost 2 of her first 3 bouts, albeit one of those did come to future champion Naoko Shibata. Since the less than great start Kuroki has improved, going 13-2, losing to the world class Etsuko Tada and the fringe world class Saemi Hanagata.
Since those losses Kuroki has shown yet more improvement, winning 5 in a row. That 5 fight run has seen her claim the WBC title, beating Mari Ando for the title, and defending it against Katia Gutierrez and Masae Akitaya.
Aged 24 the champion is still a very young fighter. Despite that she has been in 4 world title bouts, racked up 19 career bouts and 106 rounds. She is very experienced and has been fighting at the top level for the past few years, those bouts with top opponents will have helped her develop her skills significantly. She is however lacking in power and still a flawed fighter, she is also rather short at just over 5'0”. Despite not being a puncher she is a busy and tough southpaw, a real night mare to fight.
Mexican fighter Franco is interesting fighter who has, much like Kuroki, come through the hard way. The 26 year old “Chatita” debuted in 2008 and in her third bout took on Arely Mucino, who stopped Franco inside a round. After just 8 bouts Franco was 3-3-2, having also been stopped by the fantastic Ibeth Zamora Silva. Since hen however Franco has been excellent going 13-3, becoming a 2-time world champion and spending the last few years mixing with top class competition.
Among those that Franco has fought recently are Ana Arrazola, Kayoko Ebata, and Victoria Argueta. Of those opponents she has beaten Ebata in Japan, out pointe Arrazola and went 1-1 with Argueta. In those bouts she has proven her ability, her will to win and her desire. She's not the most technically impressive
Last time out Franco won the IBF female Minimumweight title, she was however stripped of that belt meaning this isn't a unification bout. That however shouldn't take away from the fact the she is among the elite fighters in the division and is a fighter who has given up her title, travelled around the world and chosen to face another champion, when she could have chosen a much easier match up instead.
Given the ability of both fighters we're expecting something very special here. An all action, high skilled, 10 round battle. Generally however those bouts go to the home fighter and we suspect that will be the case again here with Kuroki claiming a very narrow, and likely debatable, decision.
Here we preview the key female title bouts involving an Asian fighter.