One of the biggest issues with professional boxing is that we don't often get the chance to see unification bouts, especially not between long reigning champions who are regarded as the top 2 in their relevant division.
Although they are rare we are getting one such bout later this month as WBC Atomweight champion Momo Koseki (20-2-1, 7), who has recorded an amazing 15 title defenses, takes on WBA champion Ayaka Miyao (20-5-1, 4), who has recorded 5 defenses of her title. They are two of only 3 champions in the 102 weight division, with the other being WBO champion Nao Ikeyama who was widely beaten by Koseki a number of years ago.
Of the two fighters it is Koseki who is better known. She has essentially dominated the lowest weight in boxing for the past few years, in fact since winning the title back in August 2008 she has often looked unbeatable. We'll not say she's faced the best out there, but she does hold notable wins against the likes of Nao Ikeyama, as mentioned the current WBO champion, Teeraporn Pannimit, Saemi Hanagata, and Eun Young Huh.
In the ring Koseki is a handful, she's a rough and tough fighter who knows the old pro's tricks, including liberally using her head on the inside, and it aggressive enough to put fighters into their shells. Some will question her competition but much of that has to do with the divisions dearth of talent rather than her “ducking” anyone.
Although less well known Miyao is herself a more than capable fighter. She's a busy, fast fighter who really made her name with wins against against Masae Akitaya and Mari Ando, both of whom she beaten twice in just over 16 months. Her WBA reign may not be as long as that of Koseki but she is one of the genuinely elite fighters in the division.
Although known as a light puncher Miyao has developed her spiteful side recently and has 3 stoppages in her last 4 bouts. It's hard to know if that power is due to confidence in her own punch or the level of competition but either way it may be worth noting that she does seem to hit harder than the numbers suggest.
Coming in to this one we're expecting Miyao to take the role of the boxer whilst Koseki will be the brawler. This should see Koseki coming forward and Miyao trying to move and keep her off. The two should combine for some great action though we suspect that the toughness and aggression of Koseki will see her taking the narrow and very competitive win.
(Image courtesy of Ohashi Gym)
Female boxing in Asia has been interesting over the past few years. In Korea it's been female boxing which has essentially kept the sport alive over the past few years, with the likes of Hyun Mi Choi and Su Yun Hong whilst in Japan the females have remained a constant an entertaining niche in the sport.
Arguably the best of those females is 40 year old star Naoko Fujuioka (13-1, 6) who has claimed titles at both 105lbs and 115lbs and now looks to become a 3-weight world world champion as she attempts to claim the WBO female Bantamweight title. In the opposite corner to Fujioka will be Korean Hee Jung Yuh (15-2, 6), who is herself married to Young Kil Bae who fights for a world title himself later this year.
Fujioka really is one of the most talented fighters in the sport and in the course of her 6 year career she has proven she can do it all. She box, she can punch and she can fight. She has also proven she can do it on the roa, running Susi Kentikian close in Germany and defeating Mariana Juarez in Mexico. The one question she has left is just “how high can she go?” With this upcoming bout being her first as a Bantamweight.
At her best Fujioka is a boxer-fighter and her resume really does stack up well against her contemporaries. She may not have the longest of careers but she already holds wins over Naoko Shibata, Anabel Ortiz, Kannitth Kokietgym, Victoria Argueta, Naoko Yamaguchi and of course Juarez Those wins have seen her go from the boxer, as she was against Yamaguchi, to a the fight, as she was in the final 5 rounds against Juarez.
Yuh on the other hand is a bit of an unknown on the world stage. Coming in to this bout she's on a 14 fight winning streak but it's hard to fight genuinely notable names on her record, in fact the most notable are Norj Guro and Kledpetch KKP, hardly top tier opposition.
Aged 35 the Korean does have some things going for her here. She's the younger fighter, by 5 years, she's also the naturally bigger fighters, having fought as a Bantamweight several times in the past. It's also worth noting that she is 3-0 on the road, though all those wins came in Thailand against very poor opposition.
Whilst we know that Fujioka can do it all less is known about Hee though the footage of her, including a fight against Keanpetch Superchamps, makes it seem that she is a fighter who feels she is defensively strong and can apply pressure. Her power seems lacking but she has a solid output though questions need to be asked about her accuracy, consistency and of course the level of the opponent, who genuinely looked terrible.
Whilst it can be hard predict fights between “known” and “unknown” quantities it's sometimes very hard to pick against a fighter as proven as Fujioka. With that said it'll come as no surprise that we're expecting a win for Fujioka who we suspect will become the third 3-weight world champion form Japan, following Koki Kameda and Kazuto Ioka. She will also become the first Japanese female to achieve the feat.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Here we preview the key female title bouts involving an Asian fighter.