Earlier today Japanese fight fans at the Korakuen Hall saw WBO female Minimumweight champion Kayoko Ebata (12-7, 6) [江畑 佳代子] successfully record her first defense of the title, as she over-came Korean veteran Ji Hyun Park (22-3, 6), in a very close and competitive bout.
The Korean, who hadn't fought in well over 2 years, came to win and put the 42 year old champion under pressure almost immediately. To her credit Ebata used her feet really well as she looked to get in and out, but it was the pressure of the Korean challenger that caught the eye in the early going. The champion took the pressure from the challenger well and fought back whilst making Park look inaccurate at times. It was a good counter punching performance from Ebata, and one that seemed to impress the impress the judges, two of which gave her 3 of the first 4 rounds.
Park refused to be put on the back foot for long, and she seemed to impress the judges in the middle rounds and made things really close going into the final rounds. Ebata's experience, and relative lack of ring rust, proved to be the difference with Ebata managing to narrowly secure the win with her clean counters in the final rounds, taking a decision with scores of 95-95, 96-94 and 97-93, to take a majority decision.
Ebata admitted that after hearing the 95-95 score-card she expected to be on the losing end of the decision, but with the win she intends to return to the ring and continue her reign. As for Park, who looked very frustrated by the decision, she has called for a rematch and made no secret of the fact she feels she deserved the win.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
In the sport of boxing we have so many great stories, and even losers in the ring can give us stories that warm our hearts and make it feel like we're going to root for them in the future. One such fighter got their fairy tale ending yesterday with veteran Kayoko Ebata (11-7, 6) [江畑 佳代子] finally winning a world title bout, and becoming the new WBO female Minimumweight champion. The veteran, fighting in her 6th world title bout, was up against unbeaten newbie Erika Hanawa (7-1, 2) [塙 英理加], and had spoken about retirement at the age of 41.
Despite her age Ebata fought like a hungry youngster who was in the ring with a point to prove, and that showed as she quickly established control of the range and tempo of the bout, despite being the slower fighter. Her control of the contest saw her sweep rounds 2-4 with all the judges as she took a clear and commanding control of the bout before the mid way point.
Hanawa's unbeaten spirit showed in round 5, as she looked to turn the bout around, but it was a brief moment of success and as Ebata stedied the ship the following round to continue her dominance of the contest.
At the final bell there was no disputing the winner, with Ebata winning the decision on all 3 cards with scores of 97-93, twice and 98-92.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Earlier today fans at the Korakuen Hall had the chance WBO female Minimumweight champion Kumiko Seeser Ikehara (9-1-2, 3) [池原シーサー久美子] retain her title with a split decision win over veteran Kayoko Ebata (9-7, 5) [江畑 佳代子]. Whilst this was the second time Ikehara had over-come Ebata, following a split technical decision last year, the bout really was something special.
The fight started hot and both were happy to trade shots almost from the off. Their was head clashes, punches from both hands it was just a war with both regularly meeting in the centre of the ring. The pace and action was tremendous with both unloading, until the later stages when the 40 year old Ebata began to show her age.
With Ebata slowing Ikehara seemed to do enough in the later stages to take over those rounds, though the question was really how close the cards were going into the championship rounds.
Sadly for Ebata her slow down may well have cost her the bout with scorecards of 96-94 for Ikehara, twice, and a card the same way for Ebata, who has now come up short in 5 world title bouts, and likely gave this bout her all.
With 4 defenses to her name Ikehara has cemented her place as a genuine champion, but it's fair to say that other fighters will be targeting her title. For Ebata this probably will be the end of her career, a career that has seen her become the bridesmaid but never the bride.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
WBO female Minimumweight champion Kumiko Seeser Ikehara (7-1-2, 3) made the second successful defense of her title earlier today as she took a split technical decision against veteran Kayoko Ebata (8-6, 4). Sadly, much like Ikehara's first defense, this bout ended with the champion having a nasty cut and bringing an early conclusion to what was an exciting looking contest.
From the opening round this bout was engaging with both fighters giving their all and being competitive with each other from the opening bell. Ikehara seemed to have the edge in power whilst Ebata seemed the speedier, but there was little to distinguish the two who were really putting on a show early on.
It seemed that every time one fighter had some success the other would fire back and have some of their own. It was competitive and exciting.
Then, suddenly and unfortunately, the bout came to an end with both fighters being cut badly from a headclash. Although both were cut Ikehara certainly ended up with the worst of it and it was her cut that caused the early conclusion to the action.
The competitiveness of the contest made the arena tense as we awaited for the cards which read 67-66, 67-66 and 66-67 giving Ikehara the narrowest of narrow decision wins.
Some fighters are destined to never win a world title. Unfortunately for Japanese fighter Kayoko Ebata (7-5, 4) she seems likely to be one of those fighters having failed in her third world title challenge earlier today.
The 37 year old Japanese fighter, who had previously lost in world title fights to Samson Tor Buamas and Tenkai Tsunami came up against a very determined Nancy Franco (12-5-2, 4) and unfortunately was on the losing side as she attempted to claim the IBF Minimumweight title.
Franco fought like a woman possessed and refused to be intimidated by either Ebata or the Japanese crowd. Although Ebata had some success she couldn't slow down the challenger for long enough to establish herself in the contest and every time Franco took a shot she came raging back.
Unfortunately for Ebata she began to look her age in the later rounds as Franco really took over and made the decision clear-cut.
Although, as seen in the picture above, Franco was cut under the left eye and swollen herself she was certainly giving more than she was taking as she put on a performance to remember. By the time the final cards were read that was little real doubt over who had won, Franco, rightfully taking the decision with cards reading 98-92, 97-93 and 96-94 all in her favour.
This bout, the chief support contest on the "47th Phoenix Battle" may well be the final time we see Ebata in a professional bout.