Every so often female boxing gives us a bout that looks like a genuine treat. One such bout is set to take place this coming week when WBO female Bantamweight champion Naoko Fujioka (14-1,6) battles against heavy handed compatriot Shindo Go (16-3, 11), in what could potentially be a female FOTY contender.
Aged 40 Fujioka is a true veteran but also a top pound-for-pound fighter who can box, brawl and simply have a fight. Her abilities have seen her claim world titles in 3 divisions, from Minimumweight to Bantamweight, and whilst she is small for a female fighter at 118lbs she is a dangerous and highly skilled fighter.
Whilst Fujioka has only fought 15 times as a professional she has been in an incredible 7 world title bouts and holds notable wins over the likes of Naoko Shibata, Anabel Ortiz, Victoria Argueta, Naoko Yamaguchi and Mariana Juarez, whilst her only loss has been in Germany to the great Susi Kentikian. That type of resume is outstanding to say the least and sees Fujioka holding one of the most impressive records of any active female fighter in the sport.
For the challenger the bout is an incredibly important and likely emotional one, with Go announcing that it would be her final bout before she under-goes sexual realignment surgery, and will become a man. Potentially the bout could see Go become a 2-time world champion, having previously been the WBC female Flyweight champion and end life as a woman as a world champion.
Like Fujioka Go is an incredible warrior. The fighter has had to battle sexual identification issues throughout life and is looking to make a major move in life after this bout. In the ring that battling spirit has often been a key with Go always battling back from setbacks, including a debut defeat to Masae Akitaya back in 2008. Those set back shave however made the hard hitting Go a better fighter, a very hungry fighter.
When the two fighters get in the ring next week both will be looking for a career defining victory. For Fujioka the win would cement her legacy, whilst for Go the bout could serve as the perfect ending to life as a woman.
Our prediction on the fight is that Fujioka comes out on top, as she is the more skilled fighter. However given that Go is significantly younger, and is incredibly hungry to prove a point, the bout will be a very gruelling one for both fighters, with Fujioka needing one of her best performances to retain her title.
Female boxing in Asia has been interesting over the past few years. In Korea it's been female boxing which has essentially kept the sport alive over the past few years, with the likes of Hyun Mi Choi and Su Yun Hong whilst in Japan the females have remained a constant an entertaining niche in the sport.
Arguably the best of those females is 40 year old star Naoko Fujuioka (13-1, 6) who has claimed titles at both 105lbs and 115lbs and now looks to become a 3-weight world world champion as she attempts to claim the WBO female Bantamweight title. In the opposite corner to Fujioka will be Korean Hee Jung Yuh (15-2, 6), who is herself married to Young Kil Bae who fights for a world title himself later this year.
Fujioka really is one of the most talented fighters in the sport and in the course of her 6 year career she has proven she can do it all. She box, she can punch and she can fight. She has also proven she can do it on the roa, running Susi Kentikian close in Germany and defeating Mariana Juarez in Mexico. The one question she has left is just “how high can she go?” With this upcoming bout being her first as a Bantamweight.
At her best Fujioka is a boxer-fighter and her resume really does stack up well against her contemporaries. She may not have the longest of careers but she already holds wins over Naoko Shibata, Anabel Ortiz, Kannitth Kokietgym, Victoria Argueta, Naoko Yamaguchi and of course Juarez Those wins have seen her go from the boxer, as she was against Yamaguchi, to a the fight, as she was in the final 5 rounds against Juarez.
Yuh on the other hand is a bit of an unknown on the world stage. Coming in to this bout she's on a 14 fight winning streak but it's hard to fight genuinely notable names on her record, in fact the most notable are Norj Guro and Kledpetch KKP, hardly top tier opposition.
Aged 35 the Korean does have some things going for her here. She's the younger fighter, by 5 years, she's also the naturally bigger fighters, having fought as a Bantamweight several times in the past. It's also worth noting that she is 3-0 on the road, though all those wins came in Thailand against very poor opposition.
Whilst we know that Fujioka can do it all less is known about Hee though the footage of her, including a fight against Keanpetch Superchamps, makes it seem that she is a fighter who feels she is defensively strong and can apply pressure. Her power seems lacking but she has a solid output though questions need to be asked about her accuracy, consistency and of course the level of the opponent, who genuinely looked terrible.
Whilst it can be hard predict fights between “known” and “unknown” quantities it's sometimes very hard to pick against a fighter as proven as Fujioka. With that said it'll come as no surprise that we're expecting a win for Fujioka who we suspect will become the third 3-weight world champion form Japan, following Koki Kameda and Kazuto Ioka. She will also become the first Japanese female to achieve the feat.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Here we preview the key female title bouts involving an Asian fighter.