Earlier today at the Korakuen Hall fight fans got an absolute treat of a female bout, as former foes Yuko Kuroki (18-6-1, 8) [黒木優子] and Saemi Hanagata (15-7-4, 7) [田中冴美] clashed in their third meeting. Their first two bouts had both been action packed encounters but today's was a little bit extra special being fought for the IBF Atomweight title. For Kuroki the bout was a chance to become a 2-weight champion whilst Hanagata was looking claim a world title after coming up short in 4 previous world title bouts.
We were expecting a great fight, just given their history and styles, but we got something even better than expected as the two really looked to take this one out of the judges hands.
Hanagata immediate set the tempo and attitude of the bout, pressing the more technically capable Kuroki on to the back foot. Kuroki had no issue fighting off the back, when she could create space, using her better straight punches and foot movement, to land clean blows. Sadly for Kuroki however she was regularly dragged into Hanagata's fight, a brawl.
Whilst it was Hanagata's style of fight that seemed to dictate the action in the early going Kuroki had her moments, despite being rocked hard in round 2. The moments for Kuroki tended to come when the two women both threw, and Kuroki's shots just had that little bit more zip on them. Despite the zip on Kuroki's shots it was usually the work rate of Hanagata that left a lasing impression during the back and forth action.
Kuroki, to her credit, did find rounds where she established her style. Where she managed to use her legs and avoid a tear up with Hanagata. When that happened she looked like the fighter who had had an excellent reign at Minimumweight. Those rounds however never seemed to build on each other and seemed like one off rounds before she was dragged into a fight.
By the final rounds the pace had taken it's toll on both women, as had the accumulated damage of head shots and headclashes, several of which stopped the action in round 7. The slowing pace lead to a final round that was mostly wrestling, as the two try to grind out the result.
Going to the score-cards, and given how Kuroki had held her own for the most part in the short trading sequences the two had, it seemed like we had a close decision. That proved to be the case when the judges score cards were announced, with scores of 96-94, twice, in favour of Hanagata whilst the third judge favoured Kuroki 96-95.
We had the bput 96-94 to Hanagata who was very emotional after the win, having finally claimed a world title in her 5th attempt. We suspect Kuroki will bounce back, but today was about Hanagata who will be very hard to dethrone with her toughness, energy and work rate.
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)
Last night in Mexico fight fans in Mexico saw a second bout between WBC female Bantamweight champion Mariana Juarez (50-9-4, 18) and Japanese challenger Terumi Nuki (10-4, 7) [ぬき てるみ], and as with their first bout Juarez successfully defended her title.
Nuki had lost the first bout due to being out worked, out boxed and out moved. She had promised to let her hands go more this time around and seemed to do that at times. Sadly for the challenger however the champion was regularly out landing her, hitting the better combinations and moving away from the power shots of Nuki.
Nuki had some early success, hurting Juarez in the early going, and again towards the end of the bout as Juarez's foot work began to slow, but by then the Mexican had built up a hefty lead. That lead was then extended with Nuki being deducted a point for an accidental headclash in round 10, with the headclash giving Juarez a pretty nasty cut.
At the end of the 10 round distance there was no real argument about the winner, with Juarez clearly taking the victory, but Nuki certainly did show signs of improvement from her first loss to Juarez.
After the bout it was confirmed that Juarez will return later this year to face Jackie Nava, in what will be a female super fight. Nava also picked up a win on this very same card to help build that match up further.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Earlier today Japanese fight fans in Kyoto saw the WBO Atomweight title change hands, as veteran Nao Ikeyama (18-4-3, 5) [池山直] was dethroned by the unheralded Mika Iwakawa (8-5-1, 3) [岩川美花] in a thrilling 10 round war.
The 48 year old champion, who had held the title for more than 4 years, was expected to secure her 7th defense and score her second win over Iwakawa. Instead however Iwakawa came out on top of a pulsating back and forth battle that left fans knowing the two fighters had given their all.
Iwakawa got off to a good start, taking the opening round with her work rate, in the second Ikeyama came back managing to control the distance slightly better before the fight just became an all out, tit-for-tat battle of attrition.
The difference between the two seemed to be the variation of Iwakawa, who effectively switched her stances in round 4, and gave Ikeyama a lot to think about then showed her defense a few rounds later when Ikeyama tried to take control of the action, and she did rock Iwakawa who bounced back and recovered amazingly well
With neither giving an inch the crowd were on their feet in the final round as the two fighters delivered the grandstand finale. Sadly for Ikeyama however it wasn't to be enough, with Iwakawa taking a split decision, with two cards of 96-94 in her favour whilst the dissenting judge had it 96-94 in favour of Ikeyama.
After the bout Ikeyama made it clear she would be retiring, but wanted to stay involved in the sport making it sound like she would either work at, or set up, a gym. As for the new champion she spoke about wanting to unify titles and inherit the strength of Ikeyama, who's late career surge really was impressive.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Earlier today in Okinawa fight fans saw WBO female Light Flyweight champion Tenkai Tsunami (26-12, 15) [天海 ツナミ] successfully defend her title for the first time.
The champion, who won the belt earlier this year when she stopped Chaoz Minowa, was going up against Filipino challenger Gretchen Abaniel (18-10, 6) and the size difference between the two was obvious at the weigh in.
The first round was a good one from Abanilel, who looked busy and fast whilst Tsunami walked forward looking to cut the disrance. Sadly though for the challenger her success was short lived and in round 2 Tsunami managed to cut the distance and land some damaging body shots which started to take their toll on the challenger, who slowed round by round.
After becoming less and less fluid in rounds 2 and 3 Abaniel was starting to hold her feet more and struggled to get away. In round 4 she ended up trapped against the ropes and Tsunami began to unload until the referee stepped in and saved the challenger.
Abaniel really lacked the size and strength to cope with Tsunami and it was clear that he claim of moving into a better division was wrong. For her the future must be at either 102lbs or 105lbs. For Tsunami however this was a great win and great showing for the local fans in Okinawa, where Tsunami hadn't fought in years.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Earlier today in Korea fight fans had the chance to see WBA female Super -Featherweight Hyun Mi Choi (16-0-1, 4) [최현미] record her 6th defense, as she easily out-boxed Argentinian challenger Mayra Alejandra Gomez (18-8, 4).
Choi, who boasted a 7cm reach advantage, boxed on the outside and made the most of her sharp jab and accurate straight right hands. The shots from Choi began to take their toll on the challenger as early as the third round with Gomez's face beginning to bruise and swell.
What made things even easier tor Choi was the style of Gomez, which seemed to be based on creating space, the same space that Choi could use to make the most of her natural size advantages. Whilst Gome was struggling to land, and looking really uncomfortably Choi looked happy, smiling at times in the corner and looked incredibly relaxed.
As the bout went on Choi picked up her work rate whilst Gomez became more and more apprehensive, looking to avoided trading shots. It made for a really poor challenge from the Argentinian but Choi couldn't have asked for a more straightward win as she seemed to comfortably win every round.
After the bout a sporting Gomez paraded Choi to the crowd, knowing the local had been the better fighter, before randomly climbing the corner and celebrating, likely patting herself on the back for lasting the 10 round distance.
Choi, who won a WBA female Featherweight title on debut, won't enhance her reputation with this win, but will continue her reign and will likely be asking her team to get her a more serious test for next time out. For Gomez this is her third straight loss, and sees her fall to 0-3 in world title fights.
Last night in Germany fight fan saw Japan's Tamao Ozawa (13-5, 5) [小澤瑶生] put on a stirring performance, but come up agonisingly short against German veteran Raja Amasheh (21-1-1-1, 4) in a bout for the vacant WBO female Super Flyweight title.
The details from the contest are scarce but officially the bout was scored 96-94 to Amasheh by all 3 judges, in what sounds like a very debabteable decision.
From what we understand Ozawa was aggressive through out, and took the fight to Amasheh, though with the crowd behind the local fighter it wasn't to be for the visitor, who is now 0-2 in world title bouts, having previously lost to Su Yun Hong in a Light Flyweight title fight. As for Amasheh the bout sees her secure a career defining win, though it would like her reign will e a short lived one, given she only just managed to get the win here.
Ozawa will clearly go back to the drawing board wnd will likely look for another world title fight, though the former OPBF female champion will know that she won't get many more shots following two recent losses at the top level, even though both were very close decisions on the score cards.
(Image courtesy of Futur Gym)
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)
Earlier today fight fans at the Korakuen Hall saw former Japanese amateur standout Chaoz Minowa (5-1, 4) [チャオズ箕輪] take a huge step up in class, as she took on former WBA female Super Flyweight champion Tenkai Tsunami (25-12, 14) [天海 ツナミ], and found herself floundering in a bout for the WBO female Light Flyweight title.
The novice was aggressive form the opening bell, something she has typically been since starting her professional career. The aggression was effective early on, and caught the judges' eyes in the first two rounds but as she began to slow the experience of Tsunami began to show, as she moved around the ring and picked Minowa off with good counters.
The shots of Tsunami megan to land with more damaging intentions and she would give Minowa a nasty cut over her right eye in the middle of the fight. It wasn't a fight ending cut, but it was one that Minowa never really recovered from. Instead Tsunami stepped up her work rate, landing jabs and straights at will and making Minowa look like a novice as she chased her foe around the ring, only to get tagged.
After a really 1-sided 8th round in favour of Tsunami the decision was made in Minowa's corner to pull their fighter from the contest. It was an admission of defeat, and humbling one for Minowa, who had promised much but really look out of her depth. For Tsunami the win see's her becoming a 2-weight world champion and she is now looking to further establish her career, which sh may well have saved with today's win,
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
Late on Saturday fight fans in Argentina saw Japan's Terumi Nuki (9-3, 6) [ぬき てるみ] challenge IBF female Super Flyweight champion Debora Anahi Dionicius (27-0, 6), with the local easily retaining her title with a wide decision.
The Japanese fighter, fighting in her second world title bout, looked hungry and had travelled as a fighter with a lot of belief. Tha belief was shown in the way she fought, but unfortunately she lacked the skills and speed to neutralise the champion, who was too quick, too sharp and too good.
Nuki came out looking for a fight but the footwork of Dionicius was too smart and she she managed the distance brilliantly, getting in and out and letting her shots go with ease. There were moments where Nuki had some success, but those moments were few and far between with the local really just doing things at her tempo.
At the end there was no arguing about the winner, with Dionicius taking the decision 99-91, 99-91 and 98-92.
For Nuki this was her second set back in a world title fight, following a previous loss to WBC female Bantamweight champion Mariana Juarez last year. As for Dioinicus this was her 11th successful defense of the title.
(Image courtesy of Hiroki Ioka Gym)