On January 30th we’ll see the IBF female Minimumweight champion Yokasta Valle (20-2, 9) defending her title against Japanese challenger Sana Hazuki (8-4-1, 2) in Costa Rica, the first world title fight to feature a Japanese fighter this year. The bout isn’t a huge one, but it is an interesting one, in a division where there are some very good female match ups to be made, and the winner here will find themselves well in the mix for bigger figures. In fact prior to this bout being made there was supposed to be a much, much bigger bout lined up for Valle, but more about that in a few moments. Sadly however this bout has been put together on relatively short notice, and it could end up being a case that neither fighter is quite 100% for this clash. Despite that we do expect an interesting contest.
As mentioned Valle was supposed to be in a much bigger bout. Originally she had planned for a mid-January bout against German fighter Tina Rupprecht, to unify the IBF, WBC, IBO and Ring Magazine titles. That bout was sadly cancelled earlier in January, and the IBF ordered a mandatory between the champion and Hazuki as a result.
The now 28 year old Valle has been a professional since 2014, and has really proven herself as a talented fighter in recent years. That was despite a slow start to her professional career in which she fought a lot of low level bouts early on. Despite the slow start to her professional career she did claim the IBF Atomweight title in December 2016, beating Ana Victoria Polo to become the inaugural champion. Sadly she didn’t actually defend that title, instead looking to face bigger names, and in 2017 that led her to facing Naoko Fujioka in Japan, and suffer her first loss. Just 6 months after losing to Fujioka she travelled to Germany and lost to Tina Rupprecht. Within just a few months Valle had gone from 3-0 to 13-2, but had fought two highly talented fighters and proven her ability.
Since the back to back losses Valle has claimed the IBF female Minimumweight title, beating the hard hitting Jaoana Pastrana in Spain in 2018, and defended it once, stopping Carleans Rivas in 2020.
In the ring Valle is an aggressive fighter, who throws a lot of leather and believes in herself. She’s tough, energetic, and has more than a respectable amount of pop in her punches. She throws a very nice, crisp jab and a clean, straight, right hand. Given her power, work rate, big over hand right and speed and movement she’s not an easy fighter to beat, and she really does know her way around the ring. Unlike some female fighters she’s not all out aggressive and is more of a boxer-fighter than some of the swarmers we see out there in the lower weights.
The Japanese challenger, who also debuted in 2014, is now 36 and is likely on the back end of her career. Despite that she’s not got a great deal of wear and tear and will be getting her first world title in just her 14th professional contest. Despite not having much wear and tear she’s also not proven herself as a viable world title contender, with her most notable win coming over the then 5-0 Eruka Hiromoto in 2019, a win that netted her the OPBF female Minimumweight title. That win aside has little else of note on her record in terms of success. In fact the other notable results on her record are losses to Eri Matsuda and Nanae Suzuki, and a draw to Suzuki.
Despite her less than stellar results it’s hard to fault Hazuki’s work rate. In the ring she’s all effort, all energy and always coming forward letting her hands go. There’s a lack of quality and crispness to her work, but few can fault her tireless engine, with to win and all out fighting mentality. Sadly though she lacks the nuance to make the style work and the power needed to get her opponents respect. A lot of her shots are slapping shots, and there’s a really trudginess to her pressure. She’s a fun fighter to watch, but someone who’s deficient in too many areas to really compete at world level.
Although Hazuki is an all aggression fighter we don’t really see that aggression working too well against Valle, who we suspect will use her feet well, set up the counters and land big, heavy, clean shots. Hazuki will come forward all night, but eventually an accumulation of clean head shots, and the gulf in skills, will prove to be the difference, and we suspect Hazuki will end up taking a lot of leather until the referee steps in.
Prediction - TKO 8 Valle
On December 18th we see the international debut of WBA female Super Featherweight champion Hyun Mi Choi (17-0-1, 4), who has one of the greatest modern day stories in professional boxing.
The talented Korean, who signed with Eddie Hearn and Matchroom earlier this year, would have been hoping to make a big impact on her international debut. Sadly however she is taking on the limited Calista Silgado (19-11-3, 14), in a bout that takes place in Florida on the under-card of Gennady Golovkin's upcoming IBF Middleweight title defense. Not only is Silgado not a high profile opponent, but she's also someone who has taken the bout on extremely short notice as Eddie Hearn and his team have once again dropped the ball on their US shows.
What should have been a potential chance to stand out and make a name for herself has seen Choi put in a position where she really can't win. And with DAZN expected to cheerleader her before hand they are leaving a talented fighter in a position to have undue criticism due to the work of her esteemed promoter.
As for the fight, rather than extending the rant, it's really hard to see anything but a Choi win.
The 30 year old Korean fighter has been a world champion since 2008! She won the WBA female Featherweight title on her debut, beating Chunyan Xu, and made 7 defenses before moving up in weight and becoming a 2-weight champion. At Featherweight she notched a few wins over notable opponents, such as Tenku Tsubasa, Claudia Andrea Lopez, Sandy Tsagouris and Shannon O'Connell. At Super Featherweight Choi has continued to picking up notable wins, with victories over the likes of Fujin Raika, Kimika Miyoshi and Alejandra Gomez. Sadly however she has been horribly inactive, with only 6 fights since the start of 2016, despite being the face of Korean boxing.
In the ring Choi is very much a well school boxer. She lacks single punch power, but has good movement, good straight punching, and knows her way around the ring. She keeps a decent work rate, usually, but has slowed in later rounds in bouts. Although very talented she really doesn't like a fight up close and resorts to holding a lot when an opponent is too close for comfort. It can make her bouts frustrating and messy, but when she's in a groove she's fantastic to watch and looks like a stellar boxer. Not a fighter, but a boxer.
Silgado is a 32 year old Colombian who looks dangerous on paper, with 14 stoppages in her 19 wins including 4 in the opening round. Sadly however her wins have come over some truly terrible opposition and only 3 of her 19 wins have come against fighters with more wins than losses. Whilst that is a worrying stat in regards to her quality of wins, it should be noted she has lost to pretty much every opponent of any value she has ever faced. That includes Alejandra Marina Oliveras, Yazmin Rivas, Ogledis Suarez, Mayerlin Rivas, Amanda Serrano, Cindy Serrano, Shelly Vincent and Mikaela Mayer. On one hand she has faced good competition, but on the other hand she has lost repeatedly against good competition.
In the ring Silgado is very, very limited. She was absolutely dominated in 2018 by Mikaela Mayer who was too quick, too sharp, too long and too tall for Silgado, with Mayer winning every round. Even when Silgado landed her clean her shots bounced off Mayer and it was clear that Silgado didn't belong in there with a world class Super Featherweight. In fact if anything the one thing she impressed with there was her ability to survive the talented American.
Given her record, the level of wins she has, the level she loses at and the super short notice she's had for this bout it's hard to see anything but a loss for the Colombian here, who really shouldn't be getting a world title fight, or rather another world title fight. Silgado has come up short in numerous world title fights in the past and she'll come up short again here. She might survive the distance but will not be competitive, and will not act as the introduction to a US audience that Choi deserves.
Prediction - Choi UD10
On December 13th we'll see WBO female Super Flyweight champion Miyo Yoshida (14-1) return to the ring in the hunt of her second defense, as she takes on 37 year old challenger Tomoko Okuda (6-2-2, 1), who will be getting her first world title bout.
For Yoshida the bout will see her look to continue an excellent run of form, which has included 10 straight wins already and victories at Japanese, OPBF and world level. As for Okuda this bout will see her look to step up from Japanese and OPBF title level into world level, as she pursues the most meaningful win of her career.
Yoshida, who has been celebrated in Japan for being a successful single mother, turned professional way back in 2014. She made her debut and was then out of the ring for almost 2 years before returning in 2016 and attempted to make up for lost time. In 2016 she fought 5 times, going 4-1, and fighting in her first 6 rounds. The following year she avenged her loss, out-pointing Yuki Koseki in their second bout, before advancing to her first title fight, beating Tomomi Takano in an upset win in October 2017 for the Japanese female Bantamweight title. She quickly unified that title with the OPBF title, beating Gretel de Paz, and went on to defend both of those belts once before vacating them in 2019 to pursue a world title fight.
Yoshida's world title shot came in June 2019, when she dropped down in weight to Super Flyweight. Despite coming down in weight she impressed in taking a very wide and clear decision over Casey Morton to become the WBO female Super Flyweight champion, easily out boxing Morton. She returned to the ring 6 months later and out pointed Li Ping Shi in her first defense, as she continued to build her reputation. Since then she has moved gyms and linked up with the very well established Misako Gym with should be adding a new level of professionalism to her training.
When it comes to Okuda we're talking about a woman who debuted in 2015 and has fought every year since. Her debuted ended in disappointment, as she was stopped by Wakako Fujiwara, before reeling off a 5 fight unbeaten run, against fellow novices and limited fighters. The most notable result in that run was a draw, in late 2017, with Tomo Hayashi. She then kicked off 2018 by suffering her second loss, losing a split decision to Yoshie Wakasa. Following her second loss it would have been easy to to suggest Okuda's career was going no where, but since then she has gone unbeaten and actually gone on to claim the OPBF and Japanese female Bantamweight titles, thanks to a technical decision win over Kanako Taniyama earlier this year.
Despite winning the Japanese and OPBF titles Okuda only really has a single win of note on her record, and that's the one over Taniyama from this past January. She has yet to fight over 10 rounds, she is stepping up massively and she has never actually made the Super Flyweight limit in her career, the closest she's been was 115¾lbs 5 years ago. With those things in mind there are some real question marks over her head coming into this bout.
In the ring Yoshida's style is very much based around her straight punches, her movement, and her physical tools. She isn't the strongest fighter, or the most heavy handed fighter out there, but she is accurate, throws very good straight punches, doesn't waste a lot of energy and uses smart upper body movement and footwork to control range. Although she's got a good jab, she also knows how to work on the inside, grind opponents, and do so without taking much return fire. Her one big issue is her lack of power, though hopefully training at the Misako gym will improve that area of her boxing. She's a genuinely smart boxer, and it's clear she has an incredible will to win, inspired by her daughter.
In the ring Okuda is a wild fighter. She comes forward in a clumsy fashion, and looks to make fights messy. She's powerful, or rather she's physically strong, but she is very clumsy and awkward and happy to hold when she needs to. Like many lower quality female fighters her tactics are pretty basic and at 37 she is likely past her physical best. She's rough and tough, but really not all that skilled or talented. Saying that however at the age of 37, and with home advantage, she might be spurred for a career defining performance here, knowing she likely won't get another chance like this.
We know that a fighter being given what they believe could be their last chance can fill them with the hunger to shine and put everything into a performance. Even with that in mind it's hard to see Okuda winning. We suspect Okuda is the bigger puncher, and maybe even the physically stronger fighter, but the skills, speed, movement, accuracy, work rate, and ability all favour Yoshida. We suspect that Okuda will be hungry to shine, but won't be able to match the skills or tempo of Yoshida, who will go on to win round after round, and take a clear decision.
Yoshida can make this easy if she gets behind her jab, but even fighting the wrong fight we suspect she'll just have too much of everything for Okuda and will take a wide decision no matter what tactics she employs.
Prediction - Yoshida UD10
It's fair to say that whilst 2020 has been an horrific year for most there have been some positives to take from it including some in boxing. We have seen a massive improvement in match making in Thailand, to the point where we are genuinely looking forward to Thai shows when they take place. Another big winner has been female boxing, which has really been able to blossom in the UK during the no-crowd era, where cheaper purses has made female boxing a show saver. Fingers crossed both of those things continue when global normality resumes.
On the subject of female boxing one thing the UK is missing is a female domestic title scene, which we expect they will create in the coming years.
One country that has already got this is Japan and we see the next Japanese female national title fight this coming Sunday in Osaka. That title bout will see Yumi Narita (4-4-3, 1) defending her Japanese female Minimumweight title against Mont Blanc Miki (4-3-1, 1) at the EDION Arena Osaka. For the champion this will be her first defense, since winning the title in January, whilst the challenger will be looking to make the most of her latest opportunity.
The 31 year old Narita won the title this past January in her third title shot, after coming incredibly close in two previous bouts. She fought to a draw for the title in 2018, against Chie Higano, then lost a split decision to Higano in early 2019. In fairness she could have won either of those bouts. That has been pretty much the problem through her entire career, "she could have won that bout". In total she has had had 5 bouts that could have gone her way with the judges, and had that happened she'd be sat with a 9-2 record, and would certainly be seen differently in the eyes of fans.
Sadly for Narita her issues are, like many lower level female fighters. She lacks concussive power, her bouts end up being competitive and being a high tempo slugfest with both able to take the power of the other. The action often seems tit for tat and bouts can get messy very quickly. Sadly for Narita she makes life quite tricky for herself by lacking accuracy and throwing a lot of wide shots and seems to lack straight shots from her arsenal, something she will need if she's going to progress beyond Japanese title level. Thankfully she did put things together last time out, when she beat Yumiko Shimooka for the title, but in fairness Shimooka is a very limited fighter who had lost 5 of her previous 6.
In Mont Blanc Miki we have a 28 year old challenger who turned professional in 2017. She started her career with a win but was stopped in just her second bout, as tested the water above Light Flyweight. That loss sent her back down the scales she found success, and reeled off 3 more wins before. A move up to Light Flyweight in 2019 didn't bode well, as she was stopped in 2 rounds by Chan Mi Lim in South Korea. Sadly since that loss she has gone 0-1-1, though that did including a loss to Japanese Atomweight champion Eri Matsuda, last year. We had expected Matsuda to really have her way with Miki, though Miki held her own for 4 rounds before being stopped in round 5, in what was probably her best performance to date.
Although there is quite a few fights of Miki out there the one against Matsuda looks to be the most suitable to get a read on what Miki can do. In that bout she proved to be a super hungry fighter, who pressures a lot, can hold her own up close and has surprisingly good footwork. She loads a bit too much for our liking, though she seems much more accurate than Narita and physically stronger. Like Narita she's not the most accurate, but she's a very capable fighter, with a real aggressive attitude in the ring and she will be there pressing forward, looking to land big right hands and left hooks. Notably all 3 of her losses have been by stoppage, and she's not proven to have the best chin, despite her pressure style.
Despite entering as the challenger we actually think Miki will be the favourite here, or at least she should be viewed as the favourite. The advantages Miki has work well in her favour here. She's the physically stronger, more imposing and more accurate fighter of the two. Her work rate might not match that of Narita, but she's much more effective with her work than the champion. Also Miki's biggest flaw, her toughness, isn't likely to be an issue here given Narita doesn't have much in terms of power. Miki will get hit, probably quite a lot, but won't be in trouble from anything Narita throws at her.
Don't get us wrong, Narita is a live under-dog, and she won't want to give up her title, but she's certainly up against it here against a stronger, more powerful fighter than herself. Narita needs a perfect gameplan to win whilst Miki just needs to be herself and out hustle the champion.
Prediction - Miki UD6
Way back on January 28th we saw a thrilling female world title bout between Ayaka Miyao (23-8-2, 6) and Etsuko Tada (19-3-3, 6), which resulted in a split decision draw, leaving the WBO female Minimumweight title vacant. The bout wasn't the biggest or the most amazing, but it was compelling and thoroughly engaging through out. And given the inconclusive result there was, clearly, some desire from both fighters to go again.
Originally it seemed seem we weren't going to see them re-run it, with Miyao signing for a bout in Vietnam. Sadly that bout fell through to the on-going global situation leaving the door open for Miyao and Tada to face off again, which they will on December 3rd at Korakuen Hall. Like their first bout, more than 10 months ago, this will also be for the vacant WBO female Minimumweight title.
In their first bout it was Miyao who seemed to sharper fighter early on. She moved well, landing eye catching single shots and got in and out well. She impressed with her speed, her timing and her movement, and certainly didn't look like a fighter who was 36 years old. In the middle rounds her single shots become bursts and combinations and she was certainly the one with the higher work rate. Sadly for her however she was also the one with the out the physicality and power really needed to make a dent, and Tada's shots all looked nastier, particularly early on when neither fighter was really throwing much in terms of combinations. Tada was being out landed through the bout, but the quality and sting on Tada's shots certainly looked more impactful than anything Miyao was landing.
In the final rounds Tada looked old, worn and like a woman who was edging towards retirement and at the time we did say a rematch would be interesting.
Given their first bout we can't help but feel Miyao should be seen as the favourite. She seemed to do enough, at least for us, to deserve a win in their first bout. A somewhat slow start may have cost her, but when she went through the gears and began to step it up she seemed like the much fresher, younger and hungrier fighter.
The new 37 year old Miyao has been a professional since 2004, and began making her name as pupil of Hideyuki Ohashi, who really did help her build her career, and lead her to winning the WBA Atomweight title. Following a lot of success at the Ohashi Gym she then joined the Watanabe Gym and has had mixed success with them, whilst continuing to prove she is a world class fighter. In 2016 she suffered a nasty injury against Nao Ikeyama, that seemed likely to end her career. Since then however she has rebuilt, avenged that loss, suffered a narrow defeat to Monserrat Alarcon and fought to a draw with Tada.
Miyao has always been a super quick, sharp, boxer-mover. She rarely sits on shots but does land a lot and uses the ring well. Even in her mid-30's she's continued to be a bundle of energy.
Tada on the other hand is heading towards her 40th birthday, which comes next May, and she was a former amateur standout before turning professional in 2008. She was one of the trend setters for female boxing in the 00's, hunting unification bouts in 2009 and 2010. She was aggressive, exciting, and fun to watch. She was technically solid, physically imposing and a real handful. Sadly though as she's aged she has lost some tenacity and hunger. In 2013 and 2014 she suffered losses to Anabel Ortiz, then she struggled to get notable bouts, with opponents not fancying bouts with her. She bounced back well in the end but then lost to Cai Zong Ju in 2017 and looked like a faded force during that bout. Then she rebuilt again with wins against Naoko Shibata and Kayoko Ebata.
In the ring Tada can be out-worked, she can be out sped, and she can be out-boxed. At range she is limited, slow and struggles to cut range now a days. On the inside however she's strong, tough, and a physical force, pushing opponents, tying them up, and battling hard up close.
In their primes we would give Tada the advantage, but with both fighters on the slide and the nature of their first bout, we have to feel that Miyao has more left in the tank, and will use what she learned in their first bout to take the win here.
We see Miyao again boxing at range early on, but getting combinations off as early as round 2, taking the initiative, and trying to wear down Tada as the bout goes on. We don't see her breaking down the older woman in a way to force a stoppage, but we do see Miyao out working Tada to the point where the judges won't see this as being particularly close.
Prediction - UD10 Miyao
On November 13th Japanese fight fans at Korakuen Hall, along with those willing to pay an excessive price to watch on Twitcasting, will get the chance to see Japanese Female Featherweight champion Kimika Miyoshi (15-12-1, 6) take on Yoshie Wakasa (6-2, 2). For Miyoshi the bout will serve as her second defense of the title, which she won in September 2018. Wakasa on the other hand will be hoping it's third time lucky, following two previous losses in title shots.
The champion is the much, much more well known fighter. The 36 year old veteran has been a professional since 2008 and has had a rather remarkable, if somewhat over-looked career. She he won OPBF female titles at Bantamweight, Featherweight and Super Featherweight, and is now enjoying a reign as the Japanese national champion. As well as he title successes she has fought numerous times at world level, and shared the ring with the likes of Yazmin Rivas, Hyun Mi Choi and Shannon O'Connell.
Although no world beater Miyoshi is a handful. She's tough, rugged, has a good work rate, surprising power, and a lot of experience. There is a question as to when father time will catch up with, but we have seen top female fighters having success well into their 40's so we wouldn't assume her age would be a major issue, and instead suspect she still has several years left in her body.
In Wakasa we have an interesting challenger, but someone who has failed to get over the winning line in recent bouts. She began her career in 2014 and won her first 6 bouts, before coming up short against Miyo Yoshida in a Japanese Female Bantamweight title fight in 2019. That loss was then followed by a loss to OPBF Female Featherweight champion Wakako Fujiwara in September 2019. With those two losses we are now more than 2 years removed from her last win, and it's hard to know where her confidence is at.
At 32 years old Wakasa is the younger fighter, but she's no spring chicken, and she's certainly not a fighter who has done much in recent bouts to scream that she's a champion. Despite that she shouldn't be written off. Like Miyoshi the challenger is a rugged, tough type. She's clumsy, she's slow, but she comes to fight and knows how to make things ugly.
Given how both fighters are ones who like to fight up close, both neglect their jabs both like to fight we expect this to be a really rough fight, and probably a very ugly one. But we expect both fighters to be pretty well matched over all, and for the fight to be a pretty entertaining at times. A fun mess, if you will.
Sadly for the challenger we have got to predict a win for Miyoshi. Her experience, and higher level of competition will prove vital here. Both are similar in many ways, but the huge gulf in experience will, we suspect, play a big difference maker.
Prediction - UD6 Miyoshi
On September 26th at we'll get the first world title fight in Japan since the restart of boxing in the country, with the bout taking place in Kobe. Sadly it's not a huge bout, but it is an interesting one, as WBO Atomweight champion Mika Iwakawa (9-5-1, 3) makes her first defense, around 26 months after first winning the title back in July 2018. In the opposite corner to the world champion will be former Japanese national champion Nanae Suzuki (10-3-1, 1). On paper this doesn't look amazing, but should still be a pretty interesting bout for the Atomweight division, and could shake things up, or take us a step towards a potential unification.
The 37 year old Iwakawa made her debut in 2011, though found her career on the rocks early on following an injury to her eye, and a bad run of form. At the end of 2013 it seemed her career was done. She was 3-3-1 (1), the wrong side of 30 and had lost gone win less in 2013, losing Mako Yamada and Nao Ikeyama and drawing with Kumiko Seeser Ikehara, all of whom went on to win world titles. She returned in 2015 and despite losing on her return she began to build some moment and moved her record to 6-5 (2), claimed the OPBF title and got her first world title fight. She lost in that world title fight, to Yunoka Furukawa, but less than 2 years later she beat Nao Ikeyama to claim the WBO Atomweight title.
Sadly since winning the title in July 2018 Iwakawa has taken a leaf out of Gary Russell Jr's playbook, fighting just once in 2019, in what was a none title fight against Momoko Kanda.
Sadly there isn't a lot of footage of Iwakawa out there, but what there is shows a tough, aggressive fight. She likes to let hooks go, but she has some awful footwork, squaring up a lot and looking to have a fire fight. Against Furukawa that had some real success, but in the end the youth and energy of Furukawa was the difference maker at times.
Aged 28 Suzuki is the much younger fighter and actually only turned professional in 2016. Like Iwakawa she struggled early on, and lost 2 of her first 3, but since than has gone 9-1-1, with her only loss coming to the excellent Eri Matsuda. Her wins haven't been at a mega high level, but they have included victories over Chie Higano, Sana Hazuki and Kanyarat Yoohanngoh, and she has claimed the Japanese national title.
Although Suzuki is an aggressive fighter as well, her style is very different to that of Iwakawa. Instead of squaring up and firing hooks, Suzuki boxes aggressively. She does still square up sometimes, but throws far more straight shows, and looks to wear opponents down with volume, rather than huge power swings. She takes risks, with 2 handed assaults being a common thing, but she also moves around the ring well and seems like she has a lot of energy to burn.
Although Iwakawa is the champion, and before the bout was talking about seeking unification bouts, this is actually a bout that we see her struggling with. She may have the edge in terms of physical strength but in reality the speed, stamina, work rate and footwork of Suzuki will prove to be the difference over the 10 rounds.
We see Iwakawa having moments early on, but being out pointed at the end by Suzuki's more sustained and busy aggression.
For fans wanting to watch this one, it will be streamed live on BOXING REAL.
Prediction - UD10 Suzuki
The Atomweight division is certainly not a division that gets much attention, despite featuring a number of excellent match ups in recent years. It is, after all, a female only weight class and is the smaller weight class in professional boxing, with a weight limit of 102lbs. Despite the fact it's often over-looked it does, typically, give us high intensity action with a lot of leather thrown.
Not too long ago Japanese national Atomweight champion Eri Matsuda vacated her title, and we'll see that vacancy being filled on July 25th, in the first Japanese female title bout of the restart. Not just will we have a new champion being crowned, but we will also be getting a rematch as Kaori Nagai (4-2-3, 2) and Momoko Kanda (10-12-2, 4) clash for the second following a bout last September.
In their first bout Nagai took the victory, claiming her biggest win, with a 6 round split decision. That was a massive win for Nagai and saw her becoming the #1 contender for the Japanese title. Prior to that win there was almost nothing of note on her record. She had failed to win her first 3 bouts, and was 1-2-3 after 6 contests, but the win over Kanda saw him secure a third straight win and she will be coming into the bout with moment on her side.
As for Kanda her record might not be impressive but her career is far from a wash out. The 24 fight veteran has been in with a genuine who's who of the lower weights. She has fought the likes of Ibeth Zamora Silva, Masae Akitaya, Joselyn Arroyo Ruiz, Ayaka Miyao, Kumiko Seeser Ikehara, Yuko Kuroki and Mika Iwakawa among others. Although she has picked up losses she has never been stopped and has always been there to win. She's tough and comes to fight but lacks that single standout trait needed to get wins against the higher level fighters.
At 33 years old we get the feeling that Kanda needs a win here, and will be hungry for that victory. This is likely to be her last title shot, and another loss will see her left in the dark. She has won titles in the past, but we suspect she'll want this one too, to become the third Japanese female Atomeweight champion. She'll also be after revenge. We see those being driving forces for a great performance from Kanda, who think will take a very close, and very hotly contested decision. Nagai will be there to win, she'll give it everything, in what will be a sloppy but high octane war but we favour the driving forces behind Kanda to be the difference here.
Prediction - SD6 Kanda
On February 8th Costa Rican fighter Yokasta Valle (19-2, 8) will be making her first defense of the IBF female Minimumweight title, ash she goes up against Filipino challenger Carleans Rivas (8-6-4). This will not only be Valle's first defense but also Rivas' first world title challenge, after having fought numerous times for regional titles.
Although not a global name by any means Valle is a talented fighter, The 27 year from San Jose has shown a willingness to travel and to take on the best. This has seen her lose on the road to the likes of Naoko Fujioka and Tina Rupprecht, running Rupprecht very close in Germany, and actually winning this title in Spain last August. The belt she currently holds is her second, after having previously held the IBF's version of the 102lb title in 2016, and she has proven to be a tough fighter to beat.
In the ring Valle is small, even for a female fighter at 102lbs or 105lbs, but she uses her diminutive size well. She makes herself seem smaller, darts in an out well, and is very aggressive. She's not the most powerful puncher out there but she throws a lot of leather, has a busy lead hand and throws in bunches, often getting flurries off before an opponent can respond. It's her activity and aggression that make her a nightmare to fight and not many fighters will have the work rate to go with her, or the power to make her think twice about letting shots go.
The 31 year old Rivas has really struggled when she has fought above Filipino level, and in fact even at domestic level she has been beaten by the likes of Jessebelle Pagaduan and Lady Love Sampiton. Above domestic level she has lost to the likes of Tamao Ozaw, Chaoz Minowa, Tenkai Tsunami and Yumeni Ikemoto. Sadly for her she hasn't been able to win when she's stepped up and she's also rarely even been competitive at regional level. She is also 0-4 outside of the Philippines.
Whilst she's not totally terrible she isn't particularly good either. She lacks power, throws a nice jab but a very slow and loopy right hand and often puts herself off balance. There's a fighter that could have been competitive at regional level if her team had managed to polish her rather clear visible flaws, but instead those issues are still clearly there and clearly limit her potential to go far in the sport.
Although we don't see Valle as an emerging superstar of female boxing, she is a talent and we expect her to make this first defense look very, very easily. We would be massively surprised by anything but a dominant win by the Costa Rican champion.
Prediction - TKO8 Valle.
Back in September Japanese fight fans in Sakai saw local fighter Tomoko Okuda (5-2-2, 1) earn a controversial draw against Kanako Taniyama (2-0-1, 1) in a bout for the Japanese and OPBF female Bantamweight titles. It seemed that Taniyama, the busier, more aggressive, fighter had done enough to earn the win. The judges thought otherwise and gave the local fighter the benefit of the doubt, well at least two of them did with both of those judges scoring the bout even over-ruling a 78-74 card for Taniyama.
On January 28th they go again, this time with Taniyama having home advantage with the bout taking place at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo.
The first bout, although controversial, was interesting through out. Okuda looked to box on the outside, keeping the bout at range and counter the aggression of Taniyama. Taniyama on the other hand wanted to make it a fight, pressing in bursts, and forcing the pace through out. Although Taniyama was the aggressor she did take a lot of clean punches herself, from the more technically correct Okuda. Those shots left Taniyama with a badly swollen left eye that she fought through. The final round, of what was an 8 rounder, was a mess as the two tiredly fell into each other during some wild exchanges.
We expect to see a similar dynamic here. Taniyama pressing, trying to drag Okuda into a fire fight. We would however be very surprised if Taniyama's eye swelled up like it did in their first bout, and we would also be shocked if the judges in Tokyo gave Okuda the same benefit they ones in Sakai did.
Instead we expect Taniyama's aggression, heart and determination to impress judges, and help her take the decision.
One interesting difference between this bout and their first, other than the venue, is the length. Their draw came in an 8 rounder, and this is only 6. So the mess of the final round, where there was a lot of clinching between wild exchanges, isn't likely to be seen here. It's also worth noting that after 4 rounds last time out the two were level on all 4 cards, meaning a hot start here could be key in taking the Japanese female Bantamweight title.
Still in saying that, we do still favour a Taniyama decision.
Prediction - UD6 Taniyama
Here we preview the key female title bouts involving an Asian fighter.