Female boxing, at least in Asia, seems to have been very slow to kick off after the new year with next to no really notable bouts having taken to place. That's not to say that we've had no bouts but in terms of big bouts, we've sadly had nothing. No world title bouts, no OPBF title bouts and no really interesting contender style bouts. It's been disappointing.
Thankfully on February 9th things change as unbeaten fighters collide in the first Asian female title bout of the 2014.
In one corner will be the defending WBO Minimumweight champion Su-Yun Hong (9-0, 5), who will be seeking the 3rd defense of the title belt she claimed back in June 2012. In the other corner will Japan's unbeatn Mako Yamada (6-0, 2) who will be taking part in her first title bout of any variety.
On paper this should be an easy contest for Hong. Not only is she fighting at home in South Korea but she's also the more experienced, more tested, more powerful and so far more impressive. She really should be a clear favourite, though Yamada certainly won't be a push over.
Despite being the favourite the 26 year old southpaw, defending her belt against a second successive Japanese challenger, will know that she needs to be at the top of her game. Fighters with unbeaten records don't fight like they want to give up their "0" but will instead do all they can to remain unbeaten, and if they are fighting in a title bout they will do all they can to win the belt as well. This was exactly what Hong did when she was 6-0 herself and went on to beat Teeraporn Pannimit for the title.
Since winning the title Hong hasn't been the most active with just 2 defenses, a 5th round TKO over Buangern OnesongchaiGym and a split decision over Mari Ando. Those 15 rounds haven't been a lot considering she won the title well over 18 months ago, and she may well be suffering from some ring rust if she's not stayed active in the gym.
Aged 19 Yamada is the young and fast rising jewel of Japanese female boxing. She turned professional back in 2012 aged just 17, and defeated an unbeaten fighter on debut. Since then she has gone from strength to strength scoring a notable 81 second blow out over Yinglek Sithsaithong and an impressive decision over Mika Iwakawa.
Yamada's most recent performance, an 8 round decision over Chamagorn Sithsaithong, was arguably her best as she went 8 rounds and controlled the bout whilst acquiring much needed experience over a longer distance. Prior to that bout she had had just 18 rounds experience and really needed to get rounds under her belt. Despite having so few fights however she will feel her activity, 6 fights in less than 2 years, will have served her very well and may active as a very valuable advantage for the challenger.
The reason why Yamada has effectively been fast tracked to a world title fight isn't her boxing experience but in fact her kick boxing experience. As a kick boxer the youngster ran up an incredible record in the amateurs. She continued in to the pros though appears to be set on making a name for herself as a professional boxer and a victory over Hong would certainly allow her to do that.
If anything will be testing to Hong it's the "non-boxing" experience of Yamada who was very accomplished in other combats sports. She knows how to look after herself, she knows how to fight and she knows what it feels like to be hit. She isn't a "19 year old novice" despite what some may think. If Hong mistakes Yamada for a young novice it will bite her.
We however expect Hong to know all about Yamada's past and know she's in with a very good rival. If she does show the right respect to Yamada we think Hong will see out some issues in the early rounds, using her straight accurate shots and movement before taking over the bout late on as she moves through the gears and makes Yamada pay for her lack of late round experience. We don't think the champion will stop the challenger, who is tough, but we do expect the decision to be a clear, though hard fought one.
Had Yamada managed to get a few more 8 rounders under her belt we think that could have made things a lot more interesting though we assume she'll learn more here, win or lose, than almost any other bout could have taught her.
Here we preview the key female title bouts involving an Asian fighter.