This coming Saturday is an insanely fantastic day in the world of Asian boxing and part of what makes it so great is a pair of amazing female title fights in Japan. Whilst we're really excited about the WBC Atomweight title bout between Momo Koseki and Denise Castle it's also hard to ignore the potential excitement of the IBF Light Flyweight title fight between Naoko Shibata (12-3, 3) and Ana Arrazola (20-9-2, 13).
Shibata was, for a few years, one of the sports sad luck stories. She had come very close to winning the WBA Minimumweight title in 2012 and then even closer to winning the WBC Minimumweight belt the following year. It wasn't until late last year, in her third attempt, that Shibata finally won the big one and became a world champion.
Although not one of the truly outstanding female fighters in Japan, such as Naoko Fujioka, Shibata is genuinely world class. She's tough, well schooled and although not a puncher she can hit hard enough to make opponents respect her.
Despite the talent and experience of the champion she will be fully aware of just how tough this bout will be and will know perfectly well that Arrazola isn't a push over. In fact if anything Arrazola is the second best opponent that Shibata will have faced, only behind the aforementioned Fujioka.
The Mexican challenger comes in to this bout having previously faced a who's who of female boxing including Ibeth Zamora Silva, Yesica Yolando Bopp, Nancy Franco, Susi Kentikian, Katia Gutierrez and Shibata's previous challenger Guadalupe Martinez. To suggest Shibata is anything less than world class is disingenuous and it's clear that she's tough, experienced and come to win.
With this possibly being Arrazola's last chance at a world title we expect her to start fast and really take the fight to Shibata who will have to fight back hard from the off. This is dangerous for the champion considering the challenger is the bigger puncher though it should make for an enthralling contest between two women desperate to prove their value near the top of the Light Flyweight division.
Unfortunately for both we think this is a bout that is going to be too close to call. For Arrazola that will likely result in a narrow defeat considering she's the one who has travelled for the fight. For Shibata it will likely result in her retaining her title but many will claim that it was a rough decision in her favour and devalue it due to a perceived "home town" logic. We don't think it'll be a robbery but a bout so close and exciting that it could go either way, and a home fighter winning those isn't a surprise.
The one thing we're going to say is don't be too shocked if this is the sleeper contest of the week. It really does look likely to be enthralling.
(Image courtesy of Boxmob.jp)
One of two female world title bouts that take place this coming Saturday will see Japan's sensational Momo Koseki (18-2-1, 5) attempting to set a national record. Koseki, the long reigning WBC Atomweight champion, will be looking for her 14th defence of her world title, a defence that would put her ahead of Yoko Gushiken's long standing Japanese national record of 13 world title defence. Of course female and male boxing are different but it would still be an incredible achievement for the rough and tumble champion.
It's not a given however that Koseki will retain her title this time around as she battles Britain's Denise Castle (2-0, 2). On paper it's a clear mismatch but in actuality this could very easily be the toughest bout Koseki has ever been involved in.
Castle may be a pro boxing novice but she is a former Muay Thai legend who turned to boxing earlier this year in search of a new challenge. As a Muay Thai fighter Castle was a WBC champion and it appears that her aim in professional boxing is to do the same.
Koseki is a tough, rough, nasty and mean fighter. She lacks KO power but is very much a fighter with a street fighters mentality. In fact pound-for-pound it's hard to think of a tougher female boxer than Koseki but in Castle we have an equally tough and proven competitor.
Although this is a very tough bout Koseki does hold numerous advantages over her British opponent. At 42 Castle is an old fighter, she's very fit but has had a long athletic career having been a runner before turning to combat sports. Koseki will also be fighting at home and there is sure to be support for the Tokyo fighter who is fighting at home. Also Muay Thai and boxing are different sports and Koseki has the clear edge in boxing experience, not just in rounds and fights but also quality of experience having previously fought Samson To Buamas, Nao Ikeyama, Masae Akitaya and Nora Cardoza amongst others. To date Castle has fought no boxers of note.
For both fighters this is a huge bout. For Castle it's a chance to leap to the top of the boxing world in her division and replicate her Muay Thai success. For Koseki it's a national record and further proof of her dominance at 102lbs. It's a really great fight. We do favour the champion here but we know she's in for a very, very tough contest.
(Image courtesy of Boxmob.jp)
This coming Saturday in Mexico fight fans will be treat to a triple header of inter-continental bouts between Asian fighters and Mexican's.
The headline bout is a fantastic clash between former world champion Rodrigo Guerrero and unbeaten Japanese fighter Takahiro Shigee though before that clash we get a female world title fight between talented Mexican Anabel Ortiz (14-3, 2) and little known Filipino challenger Norj Guro (7-3-1, 4).
Ortiz is a name who will be known to Asian fans, specifically Japanese fans, courtesy of her fights with Nanako Kikuchi, Naoko Fujioka and Etsuko Tada. Those bouts all showed Ortiz to be a very competitive fighter and despite losing to Fujioka she has bounced back very well to establish herself as one of, if not the, best female Minimumweight on the planet.
Sadly for Ortiz she hasn't been able to prove herself too much since beating Tada for the WBA female Minimumweight title in what was viewed as a very narrow and close contest. It was a great win Ortiz, especially as it came in Japan, but it was one that should have seen the women rematching rather than both moving on to battle much lesser foes.
Whilst it's harsh to describe any fighter as an undeserving challenger it's a description that does fit for Guro who really has done little to deserve a shot at the WBA female Minimumweight title that Ortiz currently holds. In fact there are few challengers less worth than Guro who doesn't just lack notable wins but also lacks bouts with notable opponents, other than Riyo Togo who stopped Guro in 4 rounds.
Whilst the Togo bout is the most significant one in the 11 fight career of Guro it's also one that brings something else to our attention, Guro has never fought at 105lbs before. In fact her lowest bout, her only one at 108lbs, was more than 2 years ago!
Looking at her career so far there is nothing that Guro has that Ortiz can't handle. Guro hasn't got world class power, speed, skills or any other attribute that could defeat Ortiz who, in front of her own fans, will put on a show.
We're hoping that Ortiz will, following an almost certain victory over Guro, rematch Etsuko Tada or move on to bouts with Ayaka Miyao, Su Yun Hong or Yuko Kuroki. Those fights would actually matter unlike this one, and if it was a higher profile bout we're certain that their would be outrage over Ortiz fighting Guro just like their was outrage surrounding the Danny Garcia Vs Rod Salka bout in the US.
(Image courtesy of notifght)
Here we preview the key female title bouts involving an Asian fighter.