December 1st is set to be a hectic day for fight fans in Japan with 7 different title bouts taking place across 3 shows and 2 venues. Those 7 title bouts include a female world title bout, as WBO female Minimumweight champion Kayoko Ebata (12-7, 6) defends her title against former WBA champion Etsuko Tada (17-3-2, 5) at the EDION Arena Osaka. The bout pits two real veterans against each other in what could out to be a real thriller for fans at the venue.
The champion, who is 42, is one of the oldest female fighters in Japan and is also a fighter with one of the most remarkable careers. Ebata debuted at the advanced age of 31 and would fight for a world title in her second professional bout, losing a razor thin decision in Camboia against Samson Tor Buamas for the WBC female Light Flyweight title. Despite the loss it was clear she was an excellent fighter, and she was good enough to get 3 more title fights in his following 5 bouts, though sadly lost all 3 of those bouts, including a WBA female Super Flyweight title bout to Tenkai Tsunami. Despite being a fantastic fight she found herself quickly falling to 3-4 (2). She then managed to rack up wins at the lower level, but came up short in 3 world title fights, losing to Nancy Franco in 2013 and Kumiko Seeser Ikehara in 2015 and 2016. With a record of 0-5 in world title fights she was essentially given one final chance in 2017, against Erika Hanawa for the vacant WBO female Minimumweight title, and she took that opportunity by defeating the then 7-0 Hanawa for the belt. A belt she has defended once, narrowly, since winning. It's fair to say that if Ebata loses the belt her career is likely over, though she has accomplished a dream of being a world champion.
At 37 years old the challenger also can't really afford a loss, though Tada has had a distinguished career. She would win the WBA female Minimumweight title in her 5th bout, defeating ChoRong Son for the belt in 2009. She would make 9 defenses of the title before losing it to Anabel Ortiz in 2013. Prior to losing the belt she had twice fought in unification bouts, drawing both, and had notched up notable wins over the likes of IBeth Zamora Silva, Maria Salinas, Naoko Shibata and Yuko Kuroki. Following he loss to Ortiz we saw Tada become a 2-time champion, as she beat Kareli Lopez for the IBF title in 2015, though lose in her first defense in 2017 to Cai Zong Ju. Her only bout since that loss was a WBO Asia Pacific title win against Naoko Shibata, in November 2017. Sadly in her most recent bouts she has lacked the tenacity, hunger and fire that she once had. She's still a hungry fighter, but one that fights like a tamer version of her once fearsome self.
At their best these two were great fighters, but now they are shadows of their former selves. Neither is bad by any stretch, but they aren't what they once were. Here we favour the challenger. She's younger, looked better last time out and despite not fighting in over a year is likely to be the sharper fighter. Ebata struggled to retain her title in her first defense, and we can't see her getting much luck against Tada, especially given that Tada is the fighter managed by the promoter of the show.
We suspect Tada will take the decision, and we expect a real action bout. It's just a shame these two didn't fight earlier in their career's.
On November 20th fight fans in Tokyo get a very interesting female clash, as form world champions Ayaka Miyao (22-7-1, 6) and Nao Ikeyama (18-4-3, 5) battle for the WBA "Interim" Atomweight title. This will be the third bout between the two women, and one of the very few "interim" world title fights the JBC will actually allow to be held on their soil. In fact the bout was put together at late notice after Miyao's original opponent, Monseratt Alcarron (11-4-2) was injured in the build up. Whilst it's a shame Alcarron suffered an injury we have, in many ways, actually had an upgrade given the fact that Miyao and Ikeyama has some unfinished business.
These two fought first fought in 2006, with Ikeyama stopping a novice Miyao, and then fought in 2016, when Ikeyama was the WBO Atomweight champion and Miyao was challenging her. Sadly Miyao would suffer a genuinely gruesome knee injury, that she tried to fight on with before the bout was stopped and she was stretchered out of the ring in agony. For Miyao this bout gives her a chance to avenge that loss, show what she can do when she's not injured. For Ikeyama this is a chance to prove she's the better fighter, and become a 2-time world champion at the age of 49! Interestingly Ikeyama did suggest she would be retiring, though this bout has certainly dragged her back into action, and we can't blame her given the stakes and the back story.
Miyao is a former WBA Atomweight champion, who had a notable reign from 2012, when she beat Mari Ando for the title, to 2015 when she lost in WBA/WBC unification bout with Momo Koseki. During that reign she would make 6 successful defenses and beat the likes of Masae Akitaya, Mari Ando, Gretchen Abaniel and Satomi Nishimura. Sadly the loss to Koseki seemed to slow her career before suffering the nasty injury against Ikeyama as she attempted to become a 2-weight champion.
At her best Miyao is a fleet footed swarmer. She's never really shown much in terms of power, but has worn opponents down through sheer determinedness and she does have under-rated skills with a fantastic work rate. It also needs noting that the stoppage loss to Ikeyama in 2016 is the only time Miyao has been stopped in the last 10 years, and is one of only 3 stoppage losses on her record.
Ikeyama made her debut in 2003, and came up short in the first world title bout of her career, fighting to a draw in a WBC Minimumweight title fight in 2015. She would come up short again in 2009 when she lost to Momo Koseki in a WBA Atomweight title fight. After a mixed 2010, in which she scored two domestic wins but lost on the road in Korea, she seemed to walk away from the sport. That was until returning 3 years later, at the age of 44. She then began the best run of her career, claiming the WBO Atomweight title in just the second bout of her comeback. Ikeyama would go on to record several defenses of the title, retaining the title against the likes of Masae Akitaya, Jujeath Nagaowa, Saemi Hanagata and Ayaka Miyao, before losing a split decision earlier this year to Mika Iwakawa. That was supposed to end her career, but she's seemingly back for one more fight here.
Despite her age Ikeyama is a hard working and quick fighter. She's got an amazing engine for someone in her 40's, but we do wonder what her body has left given how long and hard her career has been. She's kept herself in great shape, but there's only so long anyone can fight off father time.
We're expecting to see revenge here for Miyao, who we think will pull off the upset win and become a 2-time champion. This is likely to be an action packed and highly skilled brawl, but one where we have to favour the younger woman to just have too much in her, and too much drive to avenge her two losses to the older fighter.
The Japanese scene has been full of ambitious former amateur standouts, especially in recent years with the likes of Naoya Inoue and Kosei Tanaka. Another ambitious fighter is former female amateur standout Chaoz Minowa (6-1, 5), who stated that she wanted to win world titles in a ridiculous 9 weight classes. That ambition was seen earlier this year when she faced Tenkai Tsunami for the WBO female Light Flyweight title, and despite coming up short few can doubt her desire to leave a mark on the sport.
We'll see Minowa get her second shot at a world title on November 17th when she challenges Mexican fighter Ibeth Zamora Silva (29-6, 12), the current WBC Female Flyweight champion. For Silva the bout will be her first defense of the title, that she won earlier this year, whilst Minowa will be getting he second shot to become a world champion.
The challenger was a top amateur, with notable international experience, who turned professional in 2016 with a fair bit of fanfare having inked a deal with Watanabe Gym. Her career started promisingly, and after just 3 fights she had claimed her first title, the OPBF female Flyweight title, and fought on foreign soil, stopping Chan Mi Lim in Korea. Sadly though there was flaws in what she was doing, and those flaws were exposed when she faced the tough and highly experienced Tsunami back in March. Tsunami basically let Minowa punch herself out, whilst tagging her with sharp, accurate shots and breaking her down.
In the ring Minowa is very much a fighter, not a boxer. She can box, and is well schooled due to her long amateur career, but is someone who seems to be taken over by emotion and looks to make every bout into a war. She sets off at a high tempo and looks to use her power, aggression and physicality to beat opponents down. Against lower level opponents that's fine, but against better fighters that's an issue for her, with those better fighters about to defend themselves better, counter better and pick holes in her leaky defense.
As mentioned earlier this will be Zamora's first defense, though she has long been a world class fighter. She really made a name for herself fighting at Light Flyweight, winning the WBC title in 2013 when she defeated Naoko Shibata in Tokyo. She would make 8 defenses of that title, beating the likes of Ava Knight, JEssica Chavez, Esmeralda Morema and Mari Ando before losing the title in early 2017, losing to the aforementioned Moreno. She then moved up in weight and beat Isabel Millan in a world title eliminator before beating Melissa McMorrow for the WBC female Flyweight title earlier this year.
Zamora, dubbed "Roca", is an aggressive and hard working fighter who comes forward, throws in combinations and backs up opponents. Despite being a busy fighter she is pretty solid, with a sharp jab and good, solid hooks, which she uses well on the inside. Notably she is a smaller fighter, but she has used her lack of stature well to get on the inside where she works best. She's not the crispest, but her work rate and intensity is great and her energy is fantastic.
Sadly Minowa's lack of proven world class stamina and energy, and the fact she's on the road for this bout, will not serve her well against Zamora, who is a really a little bundle of energy. Minowa will have moments but will come up short, likely making it over the finish line but looking exhausted and well beaten after 10 rounds. We would love to see Minowa fulfil her promise, but suspect she will come up short again here.
Here we preview the key female title bouts involving an Asian fighter.