This coming Wednesday fight fans at Korakuen Hall will see a new OPBF female Bantamweight champion being crowned, as Makoto Kikuchi (1-1, 1) and Marina Sayama (4-3-1, 2) clash for the currently vacant title. Although neither fighter is a major name, and neither is likely to become a major player in the division internationally, we do anticipate this being a very interesting and potentially very entertaining bout.
Coming into the bout Kikuchi is the older woman. The 35 year old southpaw his highly ranked by the JBC at Bantamweight and was a stellar domestic amateur, though was surprisingly upset on her professional debut, when she lost to Aka Ringo. Thankfully for her she bounced back from that loss earlier year, when she stopped Ai Sugimoto and put herself in the regional and domestic title mix.
As for Sayama the 34 year old debuted in 2017 and won her first 2 bouts, before moving her record to 4-1-1 (2). Sadly however she has lost her last two bouts, including a Japanese Flyweight title bout in 2019. Although she hasn't had much success recently there is a real hunger from her to make a mark in the sport, after crossing over from Football (soccer).
In the ring Kikuchi is a big strong looking Bantamweight, with some technical ability, an aggressive style, and nice, natural, fluid footwork and movement. Against Sugimoto she looked like a natural boxer, with heavy hands, and a relaxed in ring demeanour. She's not the smoothest or most active, but it's really clear that she's a well-trained and powerful fighter with bricks for hands. Defensively she isn't the tightest, but fighters will have to take risks to make her pay for her poor defensively skills, and with her power that risk is one that some won't be in a rush to take. Go to war with her at your own risk.
As for Sayama she is a natural athlete and has good stamina, good movement and good energy. Sadly however she doesn't have the polish of a boxer and is very much an athlete who turned to boxing late, rather than someone who was an athletic boxer. As a result she doesn't have the subtle things that fighters have from years of boxing, and instead relies on athletic ability, rather than boxing ability. Whilst that's not great for her to have success, she does need applauding for showing what she has, in a sport she didn't really focus on until later in her life.
Sadly for Sayama her issue here isn't necessarily her lack of boxing background. Instead it's her lack of size and physicality. We suspect with her speed and movement she will have success early on. She will take rounds on her feet. Sadly though as her feet begin to slow, and she holds her ground more, she will get broken down by the heavier hands, and sheer physicality of Kikuchi.
Prediction - TKO 7 Kikuchi
This coming Thursday we'll see Japanese Female Featherweight champion Kimika Miyoshi (16-13-1, 6) defending her title against once beaten challenger Akane Fujiwara (5-1, 2). The bout isn't the most interesting or the best match up on paper, but it is one that should provide some great action for fans at Korakuen Hall.
The 38 year old champion is a true veteran of the sport, and a true warrior who has made the most of her relatively limited natural skill set. Miyoshi made her debut in 2008 and lost her first 2 bouts, and was actually 2-3-1 after 6 bouts, but has built well from that poor start. In fact she's rebuilt so well that she has managed to be a multi-time world title challenger , a 3-weight OPBF champion and a 2-time Japanese Featherweight champion. An incredible achievement for someone who has barely won more than half of her career bouts.
Inside the ring Miyoshi is a relatively limited fighter, but not an awful one. She has a busy jab, and a style that involves a lot of footwork, she's busy, active and a bit of a hustler in the ring. She's not the smoothest, or the quickest, or the most powerful, but she's able to out hustle, out work and simply out fight opponents. She's used her long career to develop her skills and has learned a lot over time. She knows the key to victory is often having the final word in an exchange, and if her opponents can't hurt her she can stand and take risks to fight fire with fire. She'll never win a world title, but even at the age of 38 she's busy enough and capable enough to be a success on the domestic stage. She's also exciting enough to get more opportunities and to have fans tuning in, enjoying her battles.
Aged 34 the challenger will be getting her most notable bout to date. Fujiwara made her debut in 2017, losing a split decision to Chisa Tanaka, but has bounced back well since then with 5 straight wins, albeit all against fellow novices. Sadly though she has been inactive since October 2019, and has struggled in a number of her wins. To date she has never been beyond 4 rounds, and it's hard to know whether her style will have success over the 6 or 8 schedule.
In the ring Fujiwara is an aggressive fighter. She's somewhat crude, wild and wide with her shots, in what is an energy intensive style, but she's also very fun to watch letting her hands go and committing to her offensive work. Sadly her lack of polish leaves her open to counter shot, and she does eat shots clean. Her work rate is really good to watch and she clearly has the tools to develop into a good fighter. Sadly though, given her age and inexperience, we don't think she has the time needed to polish her skills off and have real success.
Coming in to this bout we do expect Fujiwara to have success in the early rounds, but as the rounds go on her defensive flaws and wild offensive work will come back to bite her as Miyoshi begins to land her own busy jab and out land the challenger.
The styles of these two should gel well, we should get some really exciting, low level, action, and the fans are in for a treat here. But we suspect Miyoshi should manage to make it look easy on the scorecards.
Prediction - UD6 Miyoshi
Here we preview the key female title bouts involving an Asian fighter.