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.