Sometime we just get fighters who are perfectly matched against each other. One such case is Saemi Hanagata (16-7-4, 7) [田中冴美] and Nao Ikeyama (18-6-4, 5) [森脇恵子], who met for the third time today, following two previous draws.
The first two bouts saw Ikeyama narrowly retain the WBO Atomweight title with the draws. She lost that title last year, and this time around it was Hanagata entering as a world champion, as she sought her first defense of the IBF Atomweight title that she won late last year.
Today's bout, as with their first two, saw little to separate the two fighters who once again put on a nail biting, all action nip and tuck 10 rounder.
Hanagata got off to a good start, taking the opening round as she showed fluid movement and landed good jabs at range. From then on however things got harder to call with Ikeyama stepping up her pressure and working up close. The pressure of Ikeyama saw Hanagata being dragged into a war up close and there was almost nothing at all two separate the two fighters through the first half of the bout.
In the second half the bout began to slow a little, due to Ikeyama's success with body shots, and Hanagata changed her gameplan slightly, rather than continued to brawl. It was then a case that Ikeyama's cleaner punching was catching the eye, just that little bit more than Ikeyama's work. Ikeyama seemed to realise that the bout was slipping away, and turned up the pressure again in round 10, as she did all she could to swing the bout back her way, but her effort wasn't quite enough.
After 10 rounds Hanagata got the win, via split decision, though again there was little to split the two fighters on the cards, with all 3 judges turning in scores of 96-94.
After 30 rounds we finally have a winner between Hanagata and Ikeyama, with Hanagata taking the series 1-0. It's worth noting however it took until Ikeyama was on the verge of her 50th birthday, for Hanagata to get a win over her.
With Ikeyama turning 50 next week it seems unlikely we'll see her in the ring again. Credit however needs to be given to her for the incredible performances she has been giving over the last few years. For Hanagata however the result will go down as one of her most significant.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Earlier today Japanese fight fans in Tokyo had the chance to see the fifth show in the Victoriva series of shows. The card are all female shows, and today's co feature bout was a WBA Atomweight title unification contest between "interim" champion Ayaka Miyao (23-8-1, 6) [宮尾 綾香] and the WBA regular champion Monseratt Alcaron (13-4-2).
Originally this bout was pencilled in to take place last November, but was cancelled when Alcaron was forced out with an injury. Today however we saw the two put on an ultra-competitive, but sadly for the local fans it wasn't to be for Miyao.
The opening round was a good one for Miyao, who's speed seemed to bother Alcaron. Sadly though it wasn't long until Alcaron found her footing in the bout and she swept rounds 2 to 4 on all 3 cards. The Mexican had taken the lead with her pressure, and although she seemed to struggle to land really hurtful blows her aggression was impressing the judges.
Strangely the judges really struggled to agree on things after round 4, with only 2 of the last 6 rounds have complete agreement from the judges. They were either caught up with the aggression and pressure of Alcaron or the speed and movement of Miyao. From the last 6 rounds one judge gave the Mexican rounds 5 through to 9, whilst another gave Miyao everything in the second half, other than round 6. It was the third scorecard that was the most interesting, giving Alcaron rounds 5,6 and 9 and Miyao rounds 7,8 and 10. The only rounds all 3 agreed with was rounds 6, to Alcaron, and 10, to Miyao.
Although the judges were obviously seeing different things to each other what they were all seeing was a high tempo fight between fighters with styles that just gelled really well and made for an action bout. Sadly for Miyao however the success of Alcaron in the first half was essentially the difference and after 10 rounds the Mexican was declared the winner of a split decision, with scores of 98-92 and 96-94 in her favour against a score of 96-94 for Miyao.
At the moment it's unclear what is next for the two. Miyao would likely be very interested in a rematch, and a chance to avenge this loss, though Eri Matsuda, who picked up a win on the under-card, may also be interested in favour Alcaron for the WBA title. Alcaron on the other hand might prefer to go back to Mexico and build at home from this win.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)