Last year Japanese fighter Yunoka Furukawa (9-1-2, 6) claimed the WBA Atomweight title, stopping Satomi Nishimura. That win saw the Watanabe fighter get some attention in Japanese boxing, but really she is seen as being a bit of an unknown. This coming Friday she looks to break out further and claim her second world title, as she takes on unbeaten Argentinian Leonela Paola Yudica (12-0-3), the current IBF female Flyweight champion.
In her title win Furukawa looked like an aggressive and heavy handed monster. Since then she has made one defense of her title, narrowly beating Mika Ishikawa with a majority decision. That bout seemed to show that Furukawa wasn't a monster puncher, which she had seemed, but also suggested that the 102lb Atomweight division was too low for her, and that she really needed to leave the division and head north. Something she is doing this weekend.
As her best Furukawa is an aggressive fighter, with heavy hands. She's not the monster puncher she once seemed, but she's an exciting young fighter who has the potential to become one of Japanese boxing's most notable female stars. She is however a long way from that will need to develop more than just her power to reach those heady heights.
Although talented Furukawa has shown issues with her stamina, and has looked rather crude and limited at times. It does seem like a she's a fighter can be out boxed, and that her aggression can be used against her very easily. She appears to take a good shot, but leaves herself open to shots, and looks likely to be a fighter who will always have to take some leather during her bouts.
Coming into the bout as the unbeaten champion Yudica will be very confident, and will be cheered on by her local fans. Aged 29 the champion is in her physical prime, is a highly skilled and fleet fighter. She lacks power, thought that is partly down to her style, but has the skills, speed and stamina to be a real handful. Especially if she can establish her pace and be able to stay at range.
As the champion Yudica will know that she all the advantages, and the biggest of those is her style. Her speed, and accuracy should be a stylistic nightmare for Furukawa and her poor defense. Saying that however the champion will have to keep her defenses on point to avoid the power of Furukawa, and to stay in control of the contest. If Yudica is drawn into a brawl it could be a very tough bout for the champion.
If Furukawa can cut the range she can make this very interesting, and potentially a war, but we suspect that Yudica's back foot boxing will make the Japanese challenger look like a made to order opponent, and one for her to look good against.
Earlier this year Japanese fighter Yunoka Furukawa (8-1-2, 6) announced herself on the Oriental scene, claiming the OPBF female Flyweight title with a 7th round stoppage against Christine Latube, and then announced herself on the world scene, claiming the WBA Atomweight title with a 3rd round TKO against Satomi Nishimura. The drop down in weight, of 10lbs, was an impressive feat by it's self but to see how destructive she was at the new weight was a scary thought for the division.
This coming Tuesday Furukawa returns to the ring to make her first defense of her Atomweight title, as she takes on OPBF Female Light Flyweight champion Mika Iwakawa (6-4-1, 2), who drops to Atomweight for her first world title bout.
On paper the bout looks like a mismatch, but in reality it should be a lot more interesting than the records suggest.
Furukawa is a destructive wrecking ball. She's not the smoothest or most skilled boxer but she is a a natural puncher who has stopped her last 4, fighting as high as Flyweight, with notable wins against the likes of Nishimura and Aiko Yamagishi. She's also been in great form, going 7-0 (5) following a 1-1-2 start to her professional career. The early career set backs have all been put behind her and at 22 she looks to be a force for both the present and the future.
Before Furukawa faces some of the more notable fighters at 102lbs, like Momo Koseki, it's clear she needs some more experience and defenses against the likes of Iwakawa will her her develop that experience and build towards the divisional super fights.
The 33 year old Iwakawa has been a professional for around 5 years and although he record is less than stellar she has mixed with some really notable names. That has seen her go 1-0-1 with world chanmpion Kumiko Seeser Ikehara, lose to future champion Mako Yamada and push current champion Nao Ikeyama all the way. She has also lost to brilliant Mexican Brisa Hernandez. Last time out she beat Nonggig Sithjaanart, to claim the OPBF female Light Flyweight title and is looking to build on that win.
Through her career so far Iwakawa has never been stopped, despite facing decent competition, but her lack of power has been an issue and will prove to be on here against Furukawa. She's probably the better “fighter” in terms of skills but the huge disparity in physicality and power is likely to be a real issue for her here.
Whilst Iwakawa is certainly better than her record suggests it's hard to imagine her being able to hang with Furukawa who we suspect will, eventually, stop the challenger, likely in the middle rounds of the bout.
On August 13th Japanese fans get two title bouts, with the more over-looked one being a WBA Atomweight title bout, for the now vacant title belt. The bout will be between 22 year Yunoka Furukawa (7-1-2, 5) and the 33 year old Satomi Nishimura (9-2, 1), and will see the winner picking up a title vacated recently by the brilliant Momo Koseki.
On paper it looks like Furukawa should be the favourite. The younger fighter turned professional in 2012 and fought to a in April that year with Misato Kawaguchi, she then suffered a decision loss to Kei Takenaka but has since gone unbeaten, going 7-0-1. Sadly however when you look through her record there is very little depth to is. Her best win came in February 2015, when she defeated Aiko Yamagishi, with a 4th round TKO. She has also claimed a notable win this year over Christine Latube, however that win is more notable for the fact it was a bout for the OPBF title rather than much about Latube.
Furukawa has won her last 3 by stoppage, though it's really only the win over Yamagishi that actually deserves any attention.
Whilst Furukawa had her record messed up to begin with the same cannot be said of Nishimura who began in 2008 and advanced to 6-0 (1) before taking on her first notable opponent. That opponent was Saemi Hanagata, who stopped Nishimura in the 5th round to claim the OPBF Minimumweight title. Just 7 months later Nishimura would lose again, being stopped by the then WBA Atomweight champion Ayaka Miyao. Since the loss to Miyao she has scored a couple of wins, over-coming Mika Iwakawa and claiming the PABA belt in Thailand against then unbeaten Namphaya Sakpracha.
Although she lacks a big win Nishimura a hasn't embarrassed herself against good opponents, like Hanagata and Miyao, and in fairness to her those losses have proven more than her wins so far.
The bout should be competitive, however we think Nishimura's extra level of competition will help over the finishing line here. Furukawa will likely develop into a better fighter but for now we think Nishimura will simply be that bit too good and that bit too experienced.
Here we preview the key female title bouts involving an Asian fighter.