This past Monday Japanese fight fans saw a small slice of history being created as female boxing icon Naoko Fujioka (16-2, 7) [藤岡 奈穂子] defeated Mexico's Isabel Millan (18-3-1, 8) to claim the the WBA female Flyweight title and become the first 4 weight world champion from Japan.
From the early stages it was clear that Millan was out of her depth with Fujioka applying pressure and making the Mexican pay for her less than snappy shots. Although one judge managed to find a way to score the opening round to Millan there was no case for the Mexican to take round 2, with Fujioka unloading the heavy artillery and dropping Millan.
To Millan's credit she came back well in round 3, the only round the judges scored in her favour, but from then on it was a slow and gradual beating for the visitor who took heavy shots in rounds 4 and 5 as Fujioka looked to make a statement.
Although Millan did well to see out the final rounds she was falling further and further behind, and starting to look not only like a beaten fighter but also like a tired one as we entered the latter stages. Although Fujioka was slowing she was still looking for a stoppage and made it clear that just winning wouldn't be enough to please her.
Fujioka's pursuit for a stoppage finally payed off in round 10 as she started quick, cornered Millan and started to unload until the referee saved the visitor.
At the time of the stoppage the judges had Fujioka up 89-81, twice, and 88-82 and there was no doubting that she could have cruised to the decision had she wanted to, but instead she wanted to score the stoppage and that's what she did, whilst continuing to prove that she is still one of the best female fighters on the planet, despite a recent controversial loss in Mexico to Jessica Chavez.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
To end an action packed Saturday our attention turned to Mexico where the IBF female Light Flyweight title was on the line, as Japan's Naoko Shibata (16-4-1, 5) [柴田 直子] sought to continue her reign and do the double over Mexican foe Alondra Garcia (17-3-1, 1), the woman she originally beat for the title back in November 2013. Sadly for Shibata her 3 and a bit year reign came to end, after 5 successful defenses.
The bout didn't seem to start with round 1 of fight 2 but instead round 11 of the Shibata Vs Garcia rivalry, and was fought at a brilliantly high tempo pace which just got better and better as the rounds went on. The high octane nature of the fight wans't just exciting but also compelling with both fighters having their moments in a back and forth round.
The back and forth action continued through a number of rounds, with only a number of clear cut rounds either way, such as round 2 and 9 for Garcia and rounds 5 and 8 for Shibata. Unfortunately though with 6 close rounds it was clear the score cards could have been all over the place, and unfortunately for Shibata they were all against here.
The close nature of the rounds, and the back and forth highlights that both ladies had, meant almost any score was allowed,though all 3 judges favoured Garcia with cards of 94-96, 92-98 and 93-97. It's fair to say the 94-96 card was the nearest to ours, and whilst we could see the the other two cards they did seem hard, especially the 98-92 card. Incidentally the cards were exactly reverals of their first bout, which Shibata won 96-94, 97-93 and 98-92.
A third bout would make sense going forward but we wouldn't be surprised by Shibata taking another option and Garcia looking for bigger paying opportunties instead.