Teenage world champions don't come around often but today saw one crowned as Japanese 19 year old Mako Yamada (7-0, 2) travelled to South Korea and dethroned the previously unbeaten Su-Yun Hong (9-1, 5) of the WBO female Minimumweight title.
Yamada may have come in to the ring as a novice boxer but she had had serious experience in both kick boxing, where she was a stand out, and in sparring, which she had been doing with the sensational Momo Koseki. Despite that experience we had still expected her to come up short, away from home, to Hong. Instead of coming up short Yamada came of age in a performance that could only be described as inspired.
The challenger, fighting in her first championship bout, hardly looked like a novice and she hardly looked like a fighter in unfamiliar surroundings. She seemed to know that she had to show off her skills if she was to pick up the title and despite the crowd being against her she didn't look like a fighter intimidated as she showed off what talent she had.
Hong, to her credit, seemed to know she was in a real fight and tried to control the bout with her southpaw jab and over-all size advantage. Unfortunately for the defending champion she was fighting someone who was quicker than her, more aggressive than her and who was unwilling to go home with out the title.
Yamada's speed, both hand and feet, made life very hard for Hong who seemed unable to time the challenger. Although highly impressive Yamada, like every fighter when they fight away from home was clearly worried about the scorecards. She looked like she knew she deserved the victory but it was until the referee raised her hand that she knew she was the champion.
The worry about the judging was right to be on the mind of Yamada, especially after the decision was read as a split with scores of 97-93, 96-94 and a very odd 96-97 (yes 3 rounds scored 10-10). Thankfully though 2 of the judges did manage to get the right winner and helped crowned the new champion.
An emotional Yamada celebrated her victory whilst Hong, who seemed to know she had been beaten, looked happy that the fight as over.
Now with the title around her waist it could be a very long time until Yamada is beaten. We had thought this fight was coming too soon for her, though with the way she coped with the 10 round distance would suggest that she is a sensational little fighter who is only going to get better.
As an after note Yamada became the first ever Japanese female teenager to win a world title, showing just how promising she really is.
On this same card we also saw the previously win-less Bo-Ra Kim (1-2, 1) stopping the debuting Da-Eun Hong (0-1) in 3 rounds. This victory for Kim has come after back-to-back losses to Eun-Sun Lee, the second of which was rather controversial.
Whilst the biggest surprise today was that Kwanpichit OnesongchaiGym only just kept a hold of his WBO Oriental Flyweight title, it wasn't the only surprise of the day. The other major surprise, at least in regards to Asian boxing, was one that saw Nonggift Onesongchaigym (6-1-1, 1) surprisingly held to a 6 round draw by fellow Thai Maimuang Sitkhurusian (1-4-1).
The bout was expected to be an easy victory for Nonggift against Maimuang but instead the under-dog gave a stirring performance and possibly deserved more than a draw.
This past Wednesday may have seen Xiong Zhao Zhong lose his WBC Minimumweight world title but it wasn't all bad news for China courtesy of Xu Chun Yan (4-3, 1) who managed to claim the female WBC International Featherweight title with a stunning victory over the well regarded Lindsay Garbatt (8-7-2, 3).
Although Yan came in to the fight as the major under-dog she showed her fighting spirit and speed to rack up a number of rounds in the early portion of the fight. Unfortunately for Yan she lacked the power to match her speed and although she was winning rounds she was wearing herself out with flurries of light shots on Garbatt.
Garbatt, knowing she was in a hole, tried to fight back hard down the stretch and with the knowledge that Yan was tiring, slowing and had little left to bother her she really did try and force the issue. The aggressive and rough nature of Garbatt did see Yan taken to the canvas several times as her legs started to fail her, but by then it seemed Yan, with the home crowd behind her, had done enough for the victory.
The scorecards, which read 95-95, 96-94 and, inexplicably, 99-91 favoured Yan to take the majority decision and the title.
Thailand's unbeaten Angor Onesongchaigym (5-0, 3) may have only been a professional for 7 months but so far she has been impressive. She showed off her talent again this past week as she stopped the win-less Dokmaipha Kiatpompetch (0-4) in the 7th round.
Whilst some may be talking about how lightly Angor has been matched, with her opponents having a combined record of 0-3-1, she is staying busy and developing "the Thai way" with lots of fights and learning fight after fight. We'd still like her to move up a level but there is no harm in her recording lots of wins at domestic level with little baby steps being taken every fight. This was her first to go beyond 6 rounds and with that in mind this was another step forward.