Earlier today the Japanese Boxing Awards honoured a number of fighters and fights. One of the Fights that was honoured was the WBO female Minimumweight title bout between Kayoko Ebata (12-8, 6) [江畑佳代子] and Etsuko Tada (18-3-2, 5) [多田悦子].
The bout, which was held on December 1st and shown on demand on Boxingraise, won the Best female Fight award, and saw the two women take the stage together.
At the even Tada revealed a rather embarrassing fact. She had failed to bring the WBO title with her to the event, having left it on the train on her way to the award ceremony. The revelation caused an uproar of laughter at the Tokyo Dome Hotel.
This could have ended up a very costly mistake, given the price of the belts, but whilst at the awards she was informed it had been safely recovered by the rail staff.
Despite losing the WBO title, albeit only momentarily, Tada does have eyes on more silverware and again revealed she is hunting a WBC title as she wants to win all 4 titles during her career, having previously held the IBF and WBA belts.
(Image courtesy of Nikkan Sports)
The Japanese Boxing Awards took place earlier today and one of the big prizes was the Special Prize, which is somewhat of a special achievement award.
Today the award was won by Masayuki Ito (25-1-1, 13) [伊藤 雅雪], the current WBO Super Featherweight champion, who won the title in the US. Ito's win on US soil was the first time a Japanese fighter had won a world title on American soil for close to 40 years. He then added to that with a defenses at the end of the year against his mandatory challenger, Evgeny Chuprakov.
At the event Ito stated "I am delighted to have a wonderful award.It was a year of a change in my life last year.I would like to challenge how far I can go this year because I have made a convincing start line and I will do my best to win MVP next year." (Translated) It seems that winning the Special Prize has seen him now begin to eye up the more prestigious MVP Award, which was won by Naoya Inoue (17-0, 15) [井上 尚弥].
His next bout is being planned for May, with Jamel Herring (19-2, 10) said to be the preferred choice of Bob Arum.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
One of the best things in Asian boxing right now is the development of streaming service Boxingraise, which have given fighters a bigger window to show their talent to a wider audience. In the past if a fight wasn't televised we had to hope that fan cam footage would be released, whilst we now have Boxingraise to show fights.
Sadly Boxingraise does keep many of it's fights behind a paywall, including the 2018 Asian Boxing female fight of the Year.
The bout in question was the third meeting between Saemi Hanagata and Yuko Kuroki, which was a bout for the IBF Atomweight title. It was an exceptional 10 round, high tempo and exciting war, with Hanagata narrowly out working and out punching the more technical Kuroki, who was hurt badly before fighting back. It was an amazingly competitive bout, and although it was fought at a lower skill level to Sho Kimura's FOTY with Kosei Tanaka it had a similar back and forth, with neither managing to establish themselves as the dominant fighter for long.
If you have boxingraise we suggest you give this one a watch.
A close contender in this category was the December 1st bout between Kayoko Ebata and Etsuko Tada for the WBO Female Minimumweight title. That bout is also available on boxingraise.
Whilst female boxing in the West has often been of predictable mismatches, doing little more than promoting one fighter as something special whilst essentially sharing the ring with someone far beneath them, we have seen several interesting upsets in Asian boxing. For example Mika Iwakawa over-coming Nao Ikeyama for the WBO Atomweight title and Shione Ogata out pointing Erika Hanawa.
For us though the upset that stood out the most was a win for Thai fighter Jutamas Jitpong, who over-came Casey Morton on December 15th in Yubei, China, for the WBO Asia Pacific Super Flyweight title
Going in to the bout Morton was 7-0-3(1), she had won the Flyweight version of the title 9 months earlier and was facing a Thai 20 year old who was 4-2 (2) who had lost in February to the then 1-0 Olga Gurova. Through Jutamas's career, prior to facing Morton, she had gone 1-2 when fighting outside of Thailand.
Against Morton we saw Jutamas out box, out punch and out move Morton.
The only one blotch on this upset was that it was later revealed that Morton had been ill in the build up to the fight and wasn't 100%, that however was not Jutamas' fault.
It's a shame to say that female boxing in Asia had a pretty forgetable year, afterall we've seen so much attention given to female fighters in the west thanks to the likes of Katie Taylor and Claressa Shields. In Asia many of the premier female fighters, like Naoko Fujioka, Cai Zong Ju, Firuza Sharipova and Hyun Mi Choi fought only once.
There were exceptions to that rule, but many of those scored only a single win of note. The one major exception was Tenkai Tsunami [天海 ツナミ], who became a 2-weight world champion in March, when she stopped the previously unbeaten and highly touted Chaoz Minowa, to claim the WBO female Light Flyweight title. A title she defended against veteran Gretchen Abaniel in July, stopping Abaniel in 4 rounds.
The 34 year old Tsunami not only gave Minowa her first defeat, which was followed 8 months later by Minowa losing a decision to Ibeth Zamora Silva, but was just the second person to stop Abaniel, who's only other stoppage loss came back in 2011 to Katie Gutierrez.
It's a shame that Asian boxing didn't have a real standout female fighter at the top this year, but fingers crossed 2019 will be a better year, especially given the fact that there so many interesting female fights out there at the lower weights, which are packed with Asian female fighters.
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