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.
One of the biggest issues with professional boxing is that we don't often get the chance to see unification bouts, especially not between long reigning champions who are regarded as the top 2 in their relevant division.
Although they are rare we are getting one such bout later this month as WBC Atomweight champion Momo Koseki (20-2-1, 7), who has recorded an amazing 15 title defenses, takes on WBA champion Ayaka Miyao (20-5-1, 4), who has recorded 5 defenses of her title. They are two of only 3 champions in the 102 weight division, with the other being WBO champion Nao Ikeyama who was widely beaten by Koseki a number of years ago.
Of the two fighters it is Koseki who is better known. She has essentially dominated the lowest weight in boxing for the past few years, in fact since winning the title back in August 2008 she has often looked unbeatable. We'll not say she's faced the best out there, but she does hold notable wins against the likes of Nao Ikeyama, as mentioned the current WBO champion, Teeraporn Pannimit, Saemi Hanagata, and Eun Young Huh.
In the ring Koseki is a handful, she's a rough and tough fighter who knows the old pro's tricks, including liberally using her head on the inside, and it aggressive enough to put fighters into their shells. Some will question her competition but much of that has to do with the divisions dearth of talent rather than her “ducking” anyone.
Although less well known Miyao is herself a more than capable fighter. She's a busy, fast fighter who really made her name with wins against against Masae Akitaya and Mari Ando, both of whom she beaten twice in just over 16 months. Her WBA reign may not be as long as that of Koseki but she is one of the genuinely elite fighters in the division.
Although known as a light puncher Miyao has developed her spiteful side recently and has 3 stoppages in her last 4 bouts. It's hard to know if that power is due to confidence in her own punch or the level of competition but either way it may be worth noting that she does seem to hit harder than the numbers suggest.
Coming in to this one we're expecting Miyao to take the role of the boxer whilst Koseki will be the brawler. This should see Koseki coming forward and Miyao trying to move and keep her off. The two should combine for some great action though we suspect that the toughness and aggression of Koseki will see her taking the narrow and very competitive win.
(Image courtesy of Ohashi Gym)
Due to boxing's myriad of titles and weight classes we sometimes end up with bad fights, we sometimes end up with terrible fights and we sometimes end up with indefensible bouts. Sadly this week we get an indefensible world title bout as possibly the best ever fighter in her weight class defends against someone not fit enough to even be her sparring partner.
The bout in question will see WBC Atomweight champion Momo Koseki (19-2-1, 6) defending her title for the 15th time against the hapless Aisah Alico (5-4, 4). The bout really shouldn't be a world title bout, nor should even be sanctioned in all honesty.
Koseki is a brilliant fighter. She is talented, battle hardened, ever improving and a really vicious warrior. It's fair to say Koseki can be crude, especially when she wants to be, but at her best she is a sensational southpaw who is capable of finding a home for her left hand at will.
In her 22 fight career Koseki has faced some questionable opponents but also a number of very credible foes. She's come up short against Samson Tor Buamas but defeated the likes of Nao Ikeyama, Saemi Hanagata, Eun-Young Huh and Teeraporn Pannimit. We won't pretend they are the top named but they are among the top fighters at 102lbs with Ikeyama actually the current WBO champion.
Sadly Alico has done very little. She has lost 4 of her last 5, all by stoppage. On paper two of hose losses, defeats to Yuko Kuroki and Samson Tor Buamas, are defendable but the others, including a loss to the then 1-0 Naome Tacda, really aren't.
Looking at Alico's record one may get the idea that she's a puncher. Unfortunately that appears to be an illusion with her wins coming against opponents with a combined record of 0-2 and her stoppages coming against opponents with a combined 0-1 record. To put that another way, in her 9 fights she has never beaten a fighter with a win, in fact she's never been beyond 3 rounds with an opponent with a win.
To say this is a revolting match up is offensive to things that are revolting. Thankfully however it's unlikely to last long and we suspect Alico will again fail to go beyond 4 rounds, and that's despite Koseki not being a puncher.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
One of two female world title bouts that take place this coming Saturday will see Japan's sensational Momo Koseki (18-2-1, 5) attempting to set a national record. Koseki, the long reigning WBC Atomweight champion, will be looking for her 14th defence of her world title, a defence that would put her ahead of Yoko Gushiken's long standing Japanese national record of 13 world title defence. Of course female and male boxing are different but it would still be an incredible achievement for the rough and tumble champion.
It's not a given however that Koseki will retain her title this time around as she battles Britain's Denise Castle (2-0, 2). On paper it's a clear mismatch but in actuality this could very easily be the toughest bout Koseki has ever been involved in.
Castle may be a pro boxing novice but she is a former Muay Thai legend who turned to boxing earlier this year in search of a new challenge. As a Muay Thai fighter Castle was a WBC champion and it appears that her aim in professional boxing is to do the same.
Koseki is a tough, rough, nasty and mean fighter. She lacks KO power but is very much a fighter with a street fighters mentality. In fact pound-for-pound it's hard to think of a tougher female boxer than Koseki but in Castle we have an equally tough and proven competitor.
Although this is a very tough bout Koseki does hold numerous advantages over her British opponent. At 42 Castle is an old fighter, she's very fit but has had a long athletic career having been a runner before turning to combat sports. Koseki will also be fighting at home and there is sure to be support for the Tokyo fighter who is fighting at home. Also Muay Thai and boxing are different sports and Koseki has the clear edge in boxing experience, not just in rounds and fights but also quality of experience having previously fought Samson To Buamas, Nao Ikeyama, Masae Akitaya and Nora Cardoza amongst others. To date Castle has fought no boxers of note.
For both fighters this is a huge bout. For Castle it's a chance to leap to the top of the boxing world in her division and replicate her Muay Thai success. For Koseki it's a national record and further proof of her dominance at 102lbs. It's a really great fight. We do favour the champion here but we know she's in for a very, very tough contest.
(Image courtesy of Boxmob.jp)
When we talk about dominant female world champions few can match the dominance of Japan's Momo Koseki (17-2-1, 4) pictured.
Koseki, the WBC Atomweight world champion, hasn't lost a fight since since November 2007 and has not become a world champion but become a dominant one defending her title an impressive 12 times since August 2008. Yes you read that right, Koseki has defended her world title 12 times in less than 6 years and what's more impressive is that she's been doing it against some top opposition such as Teeraporn Pannimit Masae Akitaya and Saemi Hanagata.
Tough as old boots, aggressive and well schooled Koseki is a nightmare to fight. She can go to war with you, she can rough you up or she can box with her well schooled skills. Their are flaws in her style, of course there are, but they tend to revolve around the way she comes in with her head as opposed to things that would make it easier to beat her. She's a really tough opponent and she has experience to go with her skills.
Attempting to prevent Koseki from her 13th title defense on March 3rd will be unbeaten Thai Angor Onesongchaigym (5-0, 3) who we believe is a teenager.
Angor may not have the record of an experienced fighter though we're of the belief that she is a highly established former Muay Thai fighter with more than 60 wins. Whilst it's true that not all great Muay Thai veterans become great boxers there is enough of a track record to suggest that Angor may be a very, very good fighter and the sort of fighter who could be a real banana skin for someone like Koseki.
Unfortunately it's very hard to be too sure about Angor with details on her being difficult to find. As with many lesser known Thai's footage of her is scarce and our recollection of fights of her that we've seen have all been her against very limited foes. She has looked decent admittedly but against the opponents she's been up against it's hard to really say anything about how she copes when hit back or what she does against more skilled foes.
With Koseki having a track record at world level, a long unbeaten run, plenty of footage out there and a very strong amateur background it's hard to suggest anything but another successful defense for the reigning champion. We do expect this to be a hard one, top Muay Thai fighters are known for their toughness and fighting ability, but we think that Koseki may just have too much boxing knowledge for Angor.
We're hoping that the winner here fights the WBA champion in a major Atomweight unification bout. Unfortunate that's something we've wanted to see for a while so aren't expecting it despite really wanting to see it.
One often made complain about boxing is that we have too many divisions. Whilst we won't disagree with that claim it's worth noting that female boxing actually one additional weight class, the Atomweight division.
With a weight limit of 102lbs the Atomweight division is the lowest in professional boxing and one only competed in by female fighters. In fact more interesting than just that is that only the WBA and WBC seem to really recognise the division and even Boxrec don't seem that willing to recognise it's existence.
Of the two recognised Atomweight champions it's the WBC champion Momo Koseki (16-2-1, 4) that has the longest and most defined reign.
Since winning the title in 2008 with a stoppage over Winyu Paradorn Gym of Thailand, Koseki has defended her title an impressive 10 times. She now looks for defense #11.
In the opposite corner to Koseki is Mexico's Nora Cardoza (8-4-2, 4), a fighter fighting in her first world title fight and a fighter looking for her first serious victory.
With 16 fights on her record Cardoza hasn't faced too many "name" fighters, and when she has, she's lost. This has seen her being stopped by Jessica Chavez and being out pointed by Jasseth Noriega, her only two high profile opponents.
If we compare Cardoza's record to that of Koseki things are very much one sided. Koseki has more world title fight victories than Cardoza has total victories and whilst they haven't come against great names they have come against credible opponents. Not only has she stopped Winyu Paradorn Gym but she has also beaten Nao Ikeyama, Teeraporn Pannimit, Saemi Hanagata and most recently Eun-Young Huh, all around the same "proven" level as Cardoza.
What's more impressive than Koseki's record is her skill level. She is incredibly talented. Sure she has two losses on her record, coming in her 4th and 5th contests, but both were narrow losses away in Thailand, both in bouts that many felt Koseki was robbed of. She's talented, tough, has great work rate and shows that female fighters can be genuinely skilled. Something that we can't really say about Cardoza.
With what we know about both fighters we really favour Koseki, arguably the best 102lb fighter on the planet to not only defeat Cardoza but also look to force a stoppage. It may come, it may not but there is every chance that Koseki will look to make a statement with WBA champion Ayaka Miyao defending her title just a few weeks after this contest.
Here we preview the key female title bouts involving an Asian fighter.