In boxing there are a number of reasons to be fast tracked. For some fighters, such as Naoya Inoue and Kosei Tanaka, the reason to be fast tracked is to make a statement and make the world sit up and take note. For other fighters it's a case time not being on their side, effectively it's now or never.
One fighter who falls into the second category is female fighter Nana Yoshikawa (4-0, 2) who, on April 29th, challenges for her first world title in what is just her 5th professional contest. The 36 year old from Osaka turns 37 in June and she really doesn't have time to develop her professional experienced any more than she already has.
Unfortunately for Yoshikawa she's not just fighting for a world title in late April but she's going up against a woman who is widely regarded as the best in weight class, Anabel Ortiz (16-3, 3). Not only is Ortiz the WBA champion but she also has a very good record against Japanese fighter with 3 wins and just a single loss, which came to amazing Naoko Fujioka.
Yoshikawa, for those who haven't followed her career, has been moved fast following a successful amateur career that saw her winning 55 of 77 bouts. Those wins came across a number of weights, starting at Flyweight in 2005 and going all the way up to Featherweight in 2012, and saw her claiming 3 weight titles on the Japanese national scene. As a professional she began her career in August 2013 fighting in 6 rounders. In her second bout she claimed an OPBF ranking and just a fight later she claimed the OPBF female Light Flyweight title in just 101 seconds.
Since winning her OPBF title Yoshikawa has fought just once, scoring a 2nd round stoppage over Kledpetch KKP, a former Flyweight world title challenger who went 8 rounds with the world Shindo Go. The last 2 wins for Nana have been been at Light Flyweight and both have shown her power, something we didn't see in her first 2 bouts which were both fought at Super Flyweight, The fact she's dropping to Minimumweight to fight Ortiz suggests that she will be the bigger fighter, though do wonder how she will look losing those 3 extra lbs.
Whilst Yoshikawa is only known by the hardcore of the hardcore, fans may actually recognise Ortiz's name. She is a 2-time world champion who has faced a who's who of female boxing. She her first world title back in 2009 with a win over Carina Moreno and successfully defended it in Japan against Nanako Kikuchi before being beaten Fujioka. Since that loss Ortiz has gone 8-1 (2) with her only loss coming to Argentinian star Yesica Yolanda Bopp. In those 8 wins she has twice beaten Etsuko Tada, albeit in 2 razor thin decisions with the second being a much disputed bout.
In the ring Ortiz is a nightmare to fight. She comes forward, throws a lot of shots and makes everything into a war. Technically she's flawed but she's like a pitbull and once she gets her teeth into an opponent she is almost impossible to force backwards. It takes a very special fighter to beat her and a sensational to look good doing it.
At 5'0” Ortiz is short, even for a Minimumweight, but she's all fighter and when she gets into the ring she's not going to back down. Her size often becomes and advantage and with her aggressive mentality she's absolutely vicious on the inside, despite a lack of power. As well as her style she's also experienced, tough and and the type of fight who will give anyone a nightmare.
For Yoshikawa this is a baptism of fire. She was a good amateur but there is a world of difference between being a good amateur and being one of the best fighters in your division. Ortiz has shown the ability to gut out a few bad rounds and turn things around. For Yoshikawa she needs to keep her boxing at range, she needs to make the most of her 4” height advantage, and most importantly she can't get discouraged by Ortiz's work rate, aggression or toughness. If the challenger can't keep Ortiz at range then we suspect the title will be going back to Mexico. Unfortunately we suspect Ortiz will just know that bit too much and be that bit too good for Yoshikawa, though we wouldn't be surprised to see this being very close on the cards with Yoshikawa having a good start before Ortiz takes over in the middle of the fight and does enough to retain her title.
(Image courtesy of http://www.ynana.jp)
Here we preview the key female title bouts involving an Asian fighter.