Earlier today fight fans in Kyoto saw a female world title fight, sadly though for those fans they also saw local fighter Tamao Ozawa (14-4, 4) [小澤 瑶生] come up short, as she lost a split decision to Korean fighter Su Yun Hong (15-1-1, 7) [홍서연], with Hong becoming a 2-weight due to the win.
Hong took control early on, landing her sharp southpaw jab to control the distance and tempo of the early rounds. Ozawa had her moments but it seemed clear that Hong was using her more refined skills to come out on top of the exchanges. As the bout went on the rounds were frequently close, and there was very little to seperate the two women at times. In fact so competitive were the two fighters that both were left swollen, bloodied and clearly marked up around the face from the consistency of shots that landed clean.
In the later stages it seemed clear that Ozawa was coming on strong, winning the last 3 rounds on two of the cards, and winning 2 of the last 3 on the other card, but sadly for her time wasn't on her side and by then she was two far behind to claim the victory. Instead losing the split decision with socres of 96-94, 96-94 and 94-96.
For Hong the win sees her scoring her first win in Japan and opening doors to other potential fights in the Land of the Rising sun, whilst Ozawa fails in her first world title bout, but showed enough to suggest she can come again in the near future, and there is a good chance she will win a world title before her career is over.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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.
Courtesy of http://www.koreaboxing.co.kr
Not every female title bout is memorable but this past weekend's WBO female Minimumweight title fight between unbeaten Korean Su-Yun Hong (9-0, 5) and Japanese challenger Mari Ando (10-6, 5) was one of the ones that really was special.
Hong, a talented boxer-puncher, got off to an excellent start racking up the early rounds with her sharp punching and fantastic movement. It appeared at times too easy for the Korean who just seemed to much more skilled than Ando.
The Japanese challenger, herself a former WBA Atomweight champion, seemed to know that she had to change something and through the middle rounds she began to fight back. Although she still seemed to be losing rounds she was beginning to make them competitive and starting to tag the champion her own solid shots, shots that would begin to mark up the face of the champion.
Although Hong had seemingly taken a clear lead in the early rounds Ando began to crawl her way back into the fight in the latter stages clearly winning 2 of the late rounds as she attempted to take Hong out and take the the title to Japan. Unfortunately for the Japanese fighter Hong had the ability to see out the distance and force the judges to make a decision.
Despite many, ourselves included, seeing the bout as a clear victory for Hong, made competitive by Ando's late charge, the judges were split. Korean Judge Kyung-Han Lee favoured the Korean fighter scoring the bout 99-91 Hong, Japanese judge Katsuhiko Nakamura scored the bout as a close contest though favoured Ando 96-94 whilst the deciding judge Bruce McTavish, of the Philippines though originally from New Zealand, favoured Hong by a score of 98-92 to help the Korean to her second title defense.
With both of her eyes swollen up Hong will know she was in a fight. The split decision, at least to us, was rather misleading and unrepresentative of the actual bout though we wouldn't imagine Hong would be in a rush to face Ando again.
For the Japanese fighter it's fair to say she will be a handful against anyone. She might win another world title fight but she will give fighters hell in each and every major fight she gets.