With the decade coming to an end we've already posted our first honourable mention for our Fighter of the Decade, and there are more to come over the coming weeks before we get into the top 10 countdown!
What we haven't yet done is look at the female side of boxing, though as with the male version of our Fighter of the Decade we will be posting a count down later in the year. Ahead of that however we will be posting several honourable mentions for our Female Boxer of the Decade.
We're kicking this off with the now sadly forgotten Naoko Yamaguchi (22-4-3, 18), who was a rare female fighter with brutal power, and exciting style, albeit one that was very rough around the edges.
Going into the decade Yamaguchi, who was promoted by the Yoko Gushiken and the Shirai Gushiken Gym, was 12-2-3 (10) and 31 years old. She hadn't really done anything of note as a fighter, despite having debuted in 2001, well before the JBC recognised female boxing.
Despite the uninspired start to her career Yamaguchi would make a real made in the last decade, running up a very good looking 10-2 (8) record and losing to two genuine legends of female boxing. Not only that but she went on to have genuine success, before her retirement part way through the decade.
Yamaguchi began the decade with a 9th round TKO win over Rie Fujimoto, to claim the OPBF Super Flyweight title. She would defend that belt twice, against limited Thai opposition, before getting a shot at the then WBC Super Flyweight champion Ana Maria Torres. Sadly for Yamaguchi the jump up in class, from regional title level to world class, proved too much and she was widely beaten by Torres over 10 rounds.
Following the loss to Torres we saw Yamaguchi return to defending the OPBF title, which she twice more, before getting her second world title bout. This time Yamaguchi would take on WBA champion Tenkai Tsunami, and managed to win the title with a competitive decision win. This saw the then 34 year old Yamaguchi become a world champion and show that belonged at that level. She would further enhance her reputation by successfully defending the title against Judith Rodriguez and Loredana Piazza, becoming the only fighter to stop Piazza who later become a European champion at Flyweight.
Sadly for Yamaguchi her title reign came to an end in late 2013 when she was beaten by the brilliant Naoko Fujioka, who had moved from Minimumweight to Super Flyweight. The fight between the two was fantastic but with Yamaguchi losing a very clear loss. More than a year later she announced her retirement.
Yamaguchi won't be the best remembered fighter out there but wins over Fujimoto, Tsunami and Rodriguez earns Yamaguchi a notable mention here.
When we have some free time we're hoping to add a series of fun articles to the site. Hopefully these will be enjoyable little short features