This coming Monday WBO female Super Flyweight champion Miyo Yoshida (15-2) looks to make her first defense of her second reign, as she takes on battle hardened veteran Tamao Ozawa (16-5, 6), in what is likely to be Ozawa's final crack at a major world title.
The 34 year old Yoshida first popped on to the radar in 2017, when she beat Tomomo Takano for the Japanese female Bantamweight title, before adding the OPBF title and then dropping down in weight to win the WBO belt in 2019. She made a single defense of that WBO belt until losing it in 2020 to Tomoko Okuda, via technical decision. She reclaimed the belt a few months later when she took a split decision over Okuda in a rematch, and it seemed like rubber bout would make sense, but sadly that's not occurred and instead Yoshida will be against Ozawa.
In the ring Yoshida is a fighter who wants to apply pressure, set a good tempo and get inside where she can smother her opponents power and let her own hands go. She's not the prettiest or the tidiest, but she is physically strong, sets a good work rate and looks to turn things into a fight on the inside. For someone without any stoppages in her first 17 bouts it would seem fair to say she's not a puncher, but she does have enough on her shots to get respect from opponents and her work rate is a real nightmare for many opponents, even those who are more technically skilled than her.
Aged 37 Oazawa has been around for years, having debuted back in 2011. Her career started well, but in 2013 she stepped up to OPBF title level and was stopped inside a round by Tomoko Kawanishi. She would then be stopped just 2 fights later by Kai Johnson. Despite those set backs she get her career back on track, winning the OPBF title in 2015 and getting the chance to fight on the round in 2015 before facing female star Mariana Juarez in Mexico in 2016. Following that loss she would twice fight for world titles, coming up short against Su Yun Hong and Raja Amasheh. Sadly she has been out of the ring for more than 3 years, and her last 3 bouts have all come at a low level.
As a fighter Ozawa is experience, she knows her way around the ring, and she knows how to box. Sadly though she is slow, and as she ages that's not going to change, she has nice timing, but there's real snap on her shots, and she doesn't like to put them together too much. She can also be seen backing up in relatively straight lines, which will be a problem against a pressure fight, like Yoshida. To her credit she is very composed in the ring, but can also be too patient at times, and be caught waiting for a mistake that never comes. At her age it's hard to imagine her keeping up with the work rate of Yoshida, and despite being the more technical fighter it does seem unlikely she'll have the tools to deal with the champion.
We expect Ozawa to have success early on, but as Yoshida gets going her work rate and style should prove to be too much for Ozawa, as the champion scores a clear and wide decision win.
Prediction - UD10 Yoshida
On May 15th we'll see a clash for the OPBF female Minimumweight champion Mizuki Chimoto (3-0, 1) defends her title against Kaori Nagai (6-3-3, 2). For Chimoto this is a chance for her to continue her rapid ascent through the rankings and make a move towards a world title fight later in the year, whilst Nagai gets a chance to add an OPBF title to her collection, which already includes the Japanese Atomweight title.
Of the two fighters the 27 year old Chimoto is the more accomplished, and the more highly regarded. She was an excellent amateur, representing Japan at the World Youth Championships and placing in the All Japan Championships several times. She has also shined as a professional winning the Japanese female Minimumweight title in her second bout, and the OPBF title in her third bout, beating former world champion Yuko Kuroki for that OPBF title.
In the ring Chimoto is a technically well schooled fight who's patient early on, light on her fighter, and applied intelligent and meaningful pressure. She's not in the ring to let her hands go every second of every round, but when she does let them go she's throwing with the intent of landing meaningful shots. Unlike some female fighters she also has a very solid guard, and good defensive skills, as well as intelligent defensive footwork, getting out of range just as well as she gets into it. Notably Chimoto is also physical strong, which works well with her style, and has under-rated upper body movement, when she uses it. Whyen she needs to up the tempo she can, but it often seems like she's fighting within herself, keeping something back and in the tank until she needs to call on it. Watching her it's clear she's an excellent talent, but someone who likely needs some seasoning, and some more ring time, before moving up another level.
Aged 32 Nagai is someone who has turned her career around after a very shaky start. She lost her first 2 bouts and was 1-2-3 after 6 contests, but has since gone 5-1, winning and defending the Japanese Atomweight title along the way. Notably her one loss since her second professional bout came last time out, to former world champion Ayaka Miyao, who showed that there was levels to the sport, despite a good effort from Nagai. On paper Nagai doesn't hold any wins of major note, but she has twice beaten Momoko Kanda as well as taking the unbeaten record of Ryo Sawai. She hasn't made a major mark on the sport, but she has really improved since her early days as a professional and could end up mixing in world level in a few years time, given the rate of her progress.
In the ring Nagai looks pretty basic, there's nothing that really stands out about her in terms of power, speed or work rate, and she does, unfortunately for her, look very upright with her chin in the air. Despite her flaws however she is getting results, and that comes down to her will to win, her ability to land sweeping shots, particularly with her right hand. She's lucky to have not fought a big puncher so far, but there's not many of them in the lowest weights of women's boxing, and her drive and willingness to grit her teeth through tough moments has earned her some good results so far. Sadly though against polished fighters we do expect her to come up short, as she did against Miyao.
Here we expect to see Nagai simply being out boxed, out fought, out thought, and out punched by a more polished, sharper, younger, faster and all round better fighter. Nagai, given her tenacity, will have moments against Chimoto, likely moments in every round, but won't have enough of them to impress the judges, with Chimoto landing the cleaner, better shots.
Prediction - UD8 Chimoto
Here we preview the key female title bouts involving an Asian fighter.