Today there was two world title fights in Osaka, as the boxing world turned it's attention to Japan. What wasn't given much attention however was a Japanese card in Tokyo, headlined by a female world title bout between WBA female Flyweight champion Naoko Fujioka (18-2-1, 7) [藤岡 奈穂子] and Tenkai Tsunami (26-12-1, 15) [天海 ツナミ].
This was a bout that seemed to be pitting two of the greats of Japanese female boxing against other, and delivered the hidden gem of the week with an incredibly hotly contest 10 round affair at Korakuen Hall.
The younger, though more experienced, Tsunami got off to a great start. She managed to dictate the pace, using a good sharp right hand to help her dictate the distance and tempo of the bout in the early going. It was this game plan that saw her race into the lead on all 3 cards, leading 40-37 and 40-36, twice, after 4 rounds. She was making Fujioka look old, slow and clumsy, and putting on the sort of performance that many knew she was capable of, but hadn't shown on a regular basis.
As we've seen so many times through her career however Fujioka wasn't going to just sit back, hand over her title and lose. Instead she bit down on her gum shield, refuse to accept defeat, and began to turn the fight around in round 5, then starting a serious fight back, clawing back round after round. She showedthe determined doggendess of a champion and forced the action on to Tsunami, upping her out put and grabbing the bout by the collar. The change in attitude from Fujioka was incredible, and saw her doing just enough to retain he title, with a split decision draw.
After 10 rounds the judges had the bout 96-95 Fujioka, 96-94 Tsunami and 95-95, with Fujioka holding on to her title by the skin of her teeth, in a fantastic 10 round female bout, that certainy deserved more attention than it got on a great day for Japanese fight fans.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Last night in Mexico Japan's Chaoz Minowa (6-2, 5) [チャオズ箕輪] challenged WBC female Flyweight champion Ibeth Zamora Silva (30-6, 12), in a bout that turned out a lot more competitive than the records of the fighters would have suggested.
Minowa, a former Japanese amateur standout who had fallen short in a previous world title shot, travelled to Mexico with real ambition and that showed from the opening moments. Minowa showed no fear of Zamora's reputation as one of the best female fighters in the sport. Instead she took the fight to the Mexican, landing her jabs and straight right hands in the early going.
Sadly for Minowa her good start couldn't be maintained and by the end of round 3 Zamora was finding her groove, and attacking the body, holding her own with the challenger. The challenger would begin to slow from round 5 and the Mexican would begin to take over the contest as the bout went on, running off the clear with her high tempo and aggression.
By the end of the 10th round it was easy to forget Minowa's good start. She had always been in the bout, but after the good start she could never quite turn the screw whilst Zamora's experience over the championship distance paid off, earning the champion the win with scores of 97-93, from all 3 judges.
For the Mexican this was her first successful defense of the title whilst Minowa is now 0-2 in world title fights. Despite the loss Minowa proved that she belong at this level and we expect to see her in another world title fight in 2019.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
The multiple WBA titles do frustrate everyone in the sport, especially when the interim title is held by someone not even close to the level of the regular champion. All too often we don't get to see "regular" and "interim" champions face off, and show the difference in class between the today.
Today however we had the chance to see WBA "regular" female Flyweight champion Naoko Fujioka (18-2, 7) [藤岡 奈穂子] dominate her "interim" counterpart Irma Sanchez (30-8-1, 8) in a 1-sided and uncompetitive contest.
After only a few rounds the real question was whether Sanchez would hear the final bell, and not whether she would spring a major upset.
Sanchez looked like she meant business to begin with, getting her jab pumping out. it wasn't long however until Fujioka found her with a counter right hand, the a left to the body. From then on Fujioka began to take control of the bout, and forced Sanchez to fight the wrong fight, trading blows in an exciting second round. As the bout went on Sanchez became less and less competitive, being hurt in round 3 and being tagged repeatedly in round 6.
Through the final round Fujioka actively chased the finish, but Sanchez gritted it out and survived the 10 rounds, though would go on to lose a unanimous decision, with scores of 100-90 on all 3 score cards.
Interestingly Sanchez fought in the controversial "No Boxing No Life" gloves, the same make that Saul Alvarez wasn't allowed to use against Gennady Golovkin. We believe this is the first time the gloves have been used in a world title fight.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Yesterday in Argentina fight fans saw Japan's Yunoka Furukawa (9-2-2, 6) [古川 夢乃歌] on local star Leonela Paola Yudica (13-0-3) in a bout for the IBF Flyweight title, which Yudica was defending.
Sadly for Furukawa, the WBA Atomweight champion, the bout didn't see manage to become a 2-weight champion. Instead she came up on the losing side of pretty clear decision, despite giving the bout her all.
The challenger pressed the action from the off, always coming forward and applying pressure. Unfortunately however the speed and accuracy wasn't there from the travelling fighter, and instead of being worn down Yudica used Furukawa's aggression against her. As a result Yudica was landing her jab, and straight and rolling off to the side before Furukawa could land her bigger shots. It was a determined effort from the Japanese warrior, but one that lacked the bite needed to really trouble the Argentinian skillster.
Although Furukawa came up short here, she does remain the WBA Atomweight champion and is likely to head back down in weight going forward, where she can make the most of her marauding style and aggression.
As for Yudica the future does look promising, but we suspect she will have much tougher bouts than this. It's not that Furukawa's a bad fighter, but she was stylistically just a bit too slow and a bit too light for the champion, who is very smart and very accurate.
Earlier today fight fans in Sakai City saw a WBO Female Flyweight title bout. Sadly though for those fans they saw local fighter Nana Yoshikawa (7-2, 4) [好川 菜々] losing the title to Mexican challenger Monserrat Alarcon (9-3-2), in what was a decidely one sided fighter.
Alarcon, also known as "Raya", began the fight hot and quickly dropped Yoshikawa inside the opening round. Despite being the shorter and less proven fighter Alarcon managed to dictate the tempo and distance of the fight, getting inside easily and landing her power shots.
Yoshikawa managed to find her footing slowly but never looked comfortable and was dropped again in round 4 as Alarcon's supposed lack of power was too much. Again Yoshikawa found her to her feet but was unable to ever use her height or reach advantages to keep the distance she needed to get her work off.
In round 6 the up close work of Alarcon resulted in a headclash that left the Mexican with a cut over her left eye. The cut seemed to kick start Yoshikawa's fight back, but sadly caused the fight to be stopped after just seconds of round 7, with the doctor ruling the cut as a fight ender.
With the cut coming from a headclash we went to the scorecards, which wre unsurprisingly in favour of "Raya" with scoes of 70-62, 69-63 and 68-64.
Sadly for the once touted Yoshikawa this could be the end. She was dropped twice by a non puncher, out worked and really beaten up before the headclash and in her late 30's she may well just walk away from active competition. As for Alarcon it was a great way to announce herself on the world stage, doing so on foreign soil against a former amateur star.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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)
Over the weekend Japanese fans had the chance to see Nana Yoshikawa (7-1, 4) claim the WBO female Flyweight title, with a close and controversial victory over Korean Eun Hye Lee (8-1, 3), a former WBO female Light Flyweight champion.
The fight started well for the Korean who seemed to find a home for her left hook and had a solid start to the bout with neither woman really managing to take advantage of the other. After 4 rounds the judges was all over the place with the scores, with one having it 39-36 to Lee, one having the same score to Yoshikawa whilst the remaining judge had the bout even at 38-38.
In the middle rounds Yoshikawa became more aggressive and swept rounds 6 and 7, after losing the 5th. This left us going into the final 3 rounds nothing much separating the two fighters and it seemed that both knew it, as they both went all out for the win.
Thankfully for the local fans in Osaka they got the result they wanted with Yoshikawa doing just enough to claim the win, winning what turned out to be the all important final round.
With the win Yoshikawa becomes a world champion at the second time of trying, though it wouldn't be a shock to see her reign being a short one, with Lee likely to chase a rematch and Naoko Fujioka also thought to be continuing her chase for a Flyweight title.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
Late on Saturday night in Mexican fight fans had the chance to see two of the top female fighters face off in a bout that promised a lot, but really failed to deliver.
The bout in question saw 3-weight world champion Naoko Fujioka (15-2, 6) [藤岡 奈穂子] battle against WBC female Flyweight champion Jessica "Kika" Chavez (28-4-3, 4) in a bout that was plagued by negative tactics, poor officiating and a frustrating amount of holding from a champion who often looked afraid to fight and preferred to spoil than actually box, fight or punch. That was despite the fact Chavez is an extremely talented boxer who was much quicker than Fujioka.
Before the fight it seemed like Fujioka knew the score and stating, clearly, that she was hunting a stoppage. She seemed to be aware that if the bout went the distance she would struggle to get the rub of the green, what she may not have anticipated was how difficult it would be to have luck inside the actual ring.
The opening round was a good one for the challenger, who found her range and had the champion on the back foot from the early going. It seemed clear by the end of the round that Chavez wasn't wanting to fight with the visitor and was relatively worried by the physical aspect of Fujioka's game. That worry was more evident through round 2 when Chavez made the action frustratingly stop-start with a lot of spoiling, holding and general negative tactics. It was a way to neutralise the power of Fujioka but she failed to really ever attack her self with only a single flurry in the second round.
The holding continued through much of the rest of the fight and by the end of round 4 it was clear that the tactic had frustrated and unsettled the challenger, with the referee basically allowing the champion to hold every time the two were close. Not only was Chavez able to get away with the holding but she was also able to get a way with a shot on the break in round 4 and seemed happy to use frequent headlocks through the fight. Chavez, when she let her hands go, had success but the reality was that she seemed happier to hold than to actually fight which made a sloppy fight sloppier whilst Fujioka looked for a KO shot with everything she threw, landing some and missing others.
It wasn't until round 6 that Chavez seemed happy to actually have an exchange, in fact there was several through the round. One of which saw the fighters heads collide with Fujioka going down following the head clash. Despite the referee having a great view of the action he called it a legitimate knockdown, securing a 10-8 round for the home fighter who had been leading on 2 of the cards when the open scoring kicked in at the end of round 4, opening up a wider lead with the knockdown call.
The headlocks returned in round 7 ad the bout broke down into a real mess of a contest with more holding and clinching than punching. It was ridiculous that the referee seemed to do nothing about the action, or lack of, an gave neither fighter any warning about the holding which had destroyed a bout that promised a lot. Despite destroying the "fight" it was a tactic that had impressed the judges who all had Chavez leading after 8 rounds, with cards of 78-73, twice, and 77-74. It was clear that Fujioka would need a KO in the final 2 rounds.
Fujioka had some great success in round 9, a round in which she managed to shake up Chavez on two occasions, but follow up attacks were thwarted by the spoiling of the champion who saw out the round, and was inexplicably given the round by at least one of the judges. Fujioka's hunt for the KO continued into the final round, but it was clear she wasn't going to get it, the best she got was the referee finally deducting a point for holding from Chavez, to give the challenger a 10-8 round. By then however it was too little too late.
At the final bell Fujioka's frustrations were clear, as was the result, with Chavez taking the unanimous decision with cards of 95-93, 94-93 and 96-92. Cards that ended up looking close, due to the eventual point deduction. Were it not for the awful refereeing of the contest however we could have had a very, very, different outcome.
For Chavez the victory further enhances her great legacy. The performance may have been an embarrassing one for such an amazing boxer, but that doesn't change the result and it adds Fujioka's name to the other great names that litter her record, and it also sees her making the 4th defense of her title. When she let her hands go she looked the world class fighter that we all know she is, unfortunately those moments were few and far between with more spoiling than fighting from the Mexican star.
For Fujioka it's a second failed attempt at a Flyweight title title, and the second loss in a close bout on the road at the weight. It's fair to say that she may not decide to take the next offer to face a champion on the road after this bout, and although she failed to become Japan's first 4-weight world champion we suspect she'll continue to hunt a Flyweight title before hanging up her gloves.
Japanese fighter Shindo Go (14-3, 9) must be wondering why she ever breaks out her passport. This past weekend the Japanese fighter lost WBC female Flyweight title by split decision to Mexico's Arely Mucino (21-2-2, 10). This was Go's second fight outside of Japan and her second narrow loss in bouts on the road.
The Japanese fighter started slowly here and seemed to be showing ill effects of the travel. It was a disappointing start that saw her in a hole very early in the bout. It was an unnecessary hole but one she had, effectively, dug for herself by staying in neutral through the first few rounds whilst Mucino got off to a great start.
In the middle of the fight Go finally got going and started to rack up the points as she began a very spirited fight back and seemed to Mucino in the 8th round. Sadly however the Japanese fighter was unable to force the stoppage at that point and the opportunity never arose again for the defending champion.
Having started as slowly as she did it was clear that Go had made life hard for herself though a card of 99-91 in favour of the Mexican was a frankly ridiculous card. The other cards which were much closer, showed the respective nature of the fight. Unfortunately however they left Go on the unfortunate end of a split decision.
No one will argue that Mucino got a robbery, far from it, though the card of 99-91 failed to reflect the nature of the fight and Go certainly deserved more than a round from this fight.
We often hear that to earn a draw in Germany you need to score a knockout and an example of that appeared to be seen again this past weekend when Japan's Naoko Fujioka (12-1, 6) suffered her first career defeat at the hands of Susi Kentikian (34-2-0-1, 17) in a bout for the WBA female Flyweight title. Fujioka, attempting to become the first Japanese female to win world titles in 3-divisions saw her German rival hold, spoil, run and show off various throws en route to taking a decision that should really did feel like a lucky escape for Kentikian.
The fight started well for the German champion who looked like the faster and busier fighter in the opening round. Despite the good start from the German things began getting closer in the next rounds and by round 3 it seemed that Fujioka was coming on strong whilst Kentikian was happy to hold and smother the Japanese fighter who seemed like she was imposing herself.
Through the middle rounds it again seemed that Fujioka was getting the better off it and certainly landing the harder shots as Kentikian put her head down and flailed fast but limp shots at the Japanese fighter who was looking like a much better technical boxer. It was in the middle of the fight that the two fighters seemed to go from trading to scrappy holding time and time again with both given multiple warnings for various fouls. It clear that the styles were going to lead to some messy action but the referee seemed unable to clear up the action which was broken time and time again as the contest began to show signs of becoming a maul.
The mauling was occasionally broken up with Kentikian bundling Fujioka to the canvas in what seemed to be an attempt to catch a breather and by the end of round 5 Kentikian was beginning to look tired and looked to be breathing heavily.
Things appeared to go from bad to worse for the German who was cut in round 7 above the right eye. From then on the German became even more negative and at times seem to run, especially early in round 8. It was as if Kentikian knew she was in trouble but also at home and that holding and running was going to help regain her composure despite the cut. The running however ended before the round was over and Fujioka began landing heavy shots on the German. The heavy shots from round 8 seemed to put the fear into Kentikian who held and ran and spoiled through round 9 as Fujioka again seemed to land the better shots before the two began unloading power shots on each other. At the time it looked like Kentikian was throwing shots out of desperation and was attempting to stem the Fujioka offensive with her own heavy shots.
Round 10 saw both fighters given warnings before swinging big at each other and trading in the later sections of the fight to end what had been an engaging yet frustrating contest that had seen some great highlights, particularly in round 7, but had also seen some really ugly moments as the two fell in to each others.
After congratulating each other on a great fight it seemed that Fujioka was the one to celebrate whilst Kentikian went to her corner and looked resigned. What both fighters seemed to forget was that the bout was in Germany and in Germany it really does take something rare to beat the German. this was shown in the scorecards that favoured Kentikian with scores of 97-93, 97-94 and 96-94. We suspect had the fight been in a neutral venue then the title would have changed hands.