The first world title bout to take place in Japan this year is a female one between two former world champions, who can't afford another loss at this stage of their career, if they are to remain relevant as top contenders. Both are heading towards and neither is in their prime, as injuries and age catch up with them. Despite that we are expecting a genuine fantastic fight as Etsuko Tada (19-3-2, 6) and Ayaka Miyao (23-8-1, 6) meet for the WBO female Minimumweight title.
Of the two it's Tada who is the older fighter. The Shinsei promoted 38 year old is a former WBA, IBF and WBO female Minimumweight champion who has fought at world level for a decade or so. She won her first world title in 2009, following an excellent amateur career, and has faced a genuine who's who of female boxing in the lower weights. She took her first title from ChoRong Son and went on to defend it against the likes of Ibeth Zamora Silva, Maria Salinas, Naoko Shibata and Yuko Kuroki before being dethroned by Anabel Ortiz. She would claim the IBF title 2 years later, beating Kareli Lopez, before losing in her first defense to Cai Zong Ju, then claim the WBO title in 2018 beating Kayoko Ebata.
In her prime Tada was fast, aggressive, a solid puncher, highly skilled, tough and a nightmare for anyone. As she's aged he speed has slowed, her combinations don't flow as they once did and she struggles to apply the same pressure she did when she was younger. She's still an excellent fighter, but often needs the right sort of opponent to shine against. Against a mover she struggles, and she's much better against a fighter who stands their ground. Despite that can chase, just not in the way she once could.
At 36 years old Miyao is no youngster herself, and she's no novice either, having made her professional debut in 2004, before the JBC even recognised female boxing. Her early career was tough, and she was 4-4-1 after her first 9 bouts. Since then however she has gone 19-4 and become a major figure in the Atomweight division, where she is a former WBA and WBA interim champion, who also fought in a unification bout with the then WBC champion Momo Koseki. During her long career she has beaten the likes of Mari Ando, Masae Akitaya, Gretchen Abaniel, and Nao Ikeyama.
At her best Miyao was a lighting quick fighter who could fire off lightning quick shots, and move around the ring with very quick footwork. She's been slowing down in recent years, but is still quick, skilled and hard to pressure. Notably she is moving up from Atomweight, 102lbs, to Minimumweight, 105lbs. It's going to be interesting to see how she copes with the extra weight, and the extra weight of her opponent. One other thing to note is that Miyao has previously suffered a nasty knee injury. She has fought twice since then, but it does leave some question marks about her body.
Here we expect to see Tada pressing, coming forward and Miyao boxing and moving on the back foot, using her feet to try and stay away from Tada's pressure. From there it really depends on who controls the distance as to who wins. We suspect that Miyao will have the early success with her foot work, but Tada will come on strong and begin to take control in the second half. This will not make it easy to score, but will make it very, very competitive, and very close.
Prediction - Draw (Split)
It's fair to say that April 2019 was a month that will go down in female boxing as a big one. We had a card in Japan, on the 14th, that was an all-female card and, of course, we had "the biggest women's boxing match in history", when Christina Hammer and Claressa Shields threw down on Showtime. We're also set to see Kasumi Saeki battle for a world title in just her 4th bout, on April 28th.
Saeki isn't the only notable fighter on the April 28th card, with former 3-time world champion Etsuko Tada (18-3-2, 5), a stablemate of Saeki's, takes on former Saeki opponent Kanyarat Yoohanngoh (5-2, 3), in a WBC Minimumweight world title eliminator. A win for the Japanese veteran sets her up with a chance to become a grandslam champion, whilst a win for Kanyarat sets her up for a huge year.
At 37 years old, and with her 38th birthday coming next month, Tada will know that time on her long career is running out. She debuted almost 11 years ago and has had a genuinely notable career. She would claim her first world title in her 5th bout, beating ChoRong Son for the WBA Minimumweight title and would twice fight to draws in unification bouts. The first of those was a draw with the then WBC champion Naomi Togashi before then fighting to a draw with the then "interim" WIBA champion Ria Rammarine. To 2013 they were the only marks on her record, which she notched notable wins over Ibeth Zamora Silva, Maria Salinas, Naoko Shibata and Yuko Kuroki.
Sadly a couple of split decision losses to Anabel Ortiz saw Tada losing the WBA title, though she would bounce back by winning the IBF title, which she lost in her first defense to Cai Zong Ju. She would later claim the WBO title in 2018, though vacated without making a defense to pursue her dream of a grandslam.
Although older and slower than she once was Tada is still an aggressive, tough, hard hitting fighter. In a small ring, or at least one that's smaller than she fought Cai Zong Ju in, she is a nightmare. The larger the ring the more she will struggle, but this bout isn't expected to be in a big ring.
The 20 year old Thai is a bit of an unknown, unless you are a hardcore fan of as female boxing in Asia. She made her professional debut at the ridiculously young age of 15, yes you did read that right 15, and took a break after her debut. Since then she's had mixed results, losing on the road, to Zhezhe Ni in China and to the prodigious Kasumi Saeki in Japan, but did score a huge win last time out, stopping Umi Ishikawa this past February. That win was, by far and away, the best of Kanyarat's career, and is a huge boost fert her coming into this bout.
We've seen the Thai look confused and lost, showing no answers to Saeki's speed and skills last July, but with 3 wins in a row she does have confidence. She's proven that she's aggressive, a physical fighter and doesn't mind bending the rules, something she did regularly against Ishikawa. Sadly for her Tada has sene it all before and there will have to be more than a few dirty tricks to pick up a win here.
We suspect Kanyarat will become a fixture on the regional scene in the years to come, however we can't see her having the tools or experience to deal with Tada. The Thai does have some momentum coming into this bout, but we expect to see that being destroyed early before Tada breaks her down and scores a mid-round stoppage.
Prediction - TKO4 Tada
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.
Although Macau once looked like being the Asian hub of boxing, with Top Rank putting on a number of high profile cards. Sadly the local economy took a downturn and the idea of Macau being a focal point of Asian boxing looks like a distant dream, unlikely to really happen.
Despite not living up to it's early promise Macau hasn't faded away from boxing altogether and this coming weekend it hosts two world title fights, including an IBF female Minimumweight title fight, as Etsuko Tada (16-2-2, 5) looks to defend her title against China's Cai Zong Ju (8-1, 1). For Tada the bout sees her defending the title for the first time, despite winning the belt more than a year ago, whilst Ju will be looking to claim her first world title.
Tada first made her name as an amateur, winning 46 of her 50 bouts in the unpaid ranks, before turning professional in 2008. In just her 5th bout she claimed the WBA fmelae Minimumweight title, and defended it from 2009 until 2013. During her reign she recorded 9 defended and fought in two unification bouts, drawing in both. Whilst her reign didn't set the boxing world on fire she did score notable results with draws against Naomi Togashi and Ria Ramnarine as well as wins over Ibeth Zamora Silva, Maria Salinas, Naoko Shibata and Yuko Kuroki.
Tada's reign finally came to an end in 2013, when she lost a narrow decision to Anabel Ortiz and the following year Tada would again come up short to Ortiz. In 2015 however Tada would become a 2-time champion as she claimed the IBF title. Sadly since winning that belt in December 2015 she hasn't been the most active of fighters, fighting in just a single stay busy bout since December 2015.
At her best Tada is a nightmare for fighters. She's tough, rough, skilled and full of energy. She's not a big puncher but is an energetic fighter who fights at a high pace and is very well established as a top fighter. Sadly at the age of 35 she is likely to be on the way down and may not have quite the energy at the top level as she had a few years ago.
Cai turned professional in 2014, just weeks before her 23rd birthday,. She won her debut but came up short just weeks later when she took on teenager Nampetch Kwanjaisrikod in Laos. Since that loss however Cai has gone from strength to strength and run her last 7. That winning run has seen her over-come the likes of Gretchen Abaniel, Mari Ando and Samson Tor Buamas, legitimising her as a genuine contender.
At her best Cai is a talented outside boxer. She lacks power but can fight when she needs to, though seems happier using her speed and boxing skills. Although under-rated Cai will see this as her opportunity to move from being a regional champion, who has held a variety of secondary titles, to a world champion and will have trained her heart out for this one.
Although Cai is on a good run, significantly younger than the champion and will have home advantage this bout really is a huge step up for her and it's hard to favour her against such an accomplished fighter as Tada. There is a chance, that at 35 Tada's engine will falter, but the reality is that Tada should have too much in the locker at this point in time for Cai. Cai may have the skills to see out the distance but we suspect she'll struggle to be competitive with the Shinsei managed champion.
We know that many boxing fans tend to over-look female boxing but there are some brilliant fighters out there and the lower weights are full of them. One such fighter is in action on December 11th as she looks to become a 2-time world champion. That fighter is former WBA female Minimumweight champion Etsuko Tada (14-2-2, 4) who faces Mexican fighter Kareli Lopez (8-5-3, 2), who has come in to the bout to replace the more established Victoria Argueta (13-2, 4), in a bout for the IBF female Minimumweight title.
Tada took up boxing after having been a street fight as a youngster. The boxing allowed her to develop her fighting and get paid for it as she began a very successful career. In just her 5th professional she became a world champion, dethroning the then unbeaten Cho-Rong Son to claim the WBA female Minimumweight title. Two fights later she tried to unify titles before being held to back-to-back draws.
As a champion Tada's reign only ended in her 10th defense, as she lost a close decision to Anabel Ortiz. By then she had notched notable wins over Ibeth Zamora Silva, Maria Salinas, Naoko Shibata and Yuko Kuroki, all of whom have since become staples on the world scene. Sadly for Tada she has since suffered another loss, in a rematch to Ortiz who holds the only two professional victories over Tada.
Aged 34 Tada is no longer a spring chicken however she still has a fantastic engine, a great will to win, impressive speed and a desire to climb back to the top of the sport. She's aggressive, talented, exciting and tough and will refuse to just accept a loss. Not only does she have that desire to be the best but she has the ability to go with it, and her long career as a fighter has seen her rack up an incredible amount of experience, including a brilliant 47-3 record.
Mexican fighter Lopez is a much less well known fighter than Tada, and as mentioned she has filled in for the very talented Victoria Argueta. She debuted back in 2009 and got off to a troubling start as she went 5-5-3, including a run of 0-4-2 over a 28 month win-less period. Since then however she has strung together some confidence building wins, including a brilliant victory over Brenda Flores for a Mexican title and a pair of wins over Carol Castro Madrid, with the second win seeing her claim the WBF title.
Although Lopez lacks a stand out win she has mixed with very talented fighters, including Jessica Nery Plata, Katia Gutierrez and Kenia Enriquez. She has lost to all 3 of those women, but did show her competitiveness in her bout with Plata, losing a split decision. Sadly however this will be her first world title bout and her first bout outside of Mexico, suggesting that she will be found wanting at the highest level and may well find herself feeling pout of place in the Lion(esses) den.
Whilst we think Lopez will try her heart out, this does seem to be too much of a step up for her and we can't see her really testing someone as good as Tada.
A real female superfight takes place this coming Saturday in Mexico as Japan's Etsuko Tada (13-1-2, 3) attempts to avenge her sole defeat and reclaim the WBA female Minimumweight title in her rematch with Mexico's talented Anabel Ortiz (15-3, 3). The bout, which comes a little over 15 months after their first clash, will be Tada's first in Mexico and will give her a huge opportunity to reclaim the position as the best female fighter at 105lbs on the planet.
When the two fighters first met, in later July 2013, it was in Japan and Ortiz claimed a very narrow split decision win. It was the type of bout that could have gone either way though judges from Mexico and Panama gave the bout to Ortiz with scores of 96-94, which over-ruled the Japanese judge who had it 97-93 to Tada. It was one of those bouts that was competitive enough to have come to either of those scores though it did seem like Tada would have been the more deserving winner.
For Tada the loss was a painful one and ended her championship reign that had began more than 4 years earlier when she had defeated the then unbeaten Cho-Rong Son. That 4 year reign had included 9 defenses of the title prior to the loss to Ortiz and had seen Tada fight to draws in unification bouts with then WBC champion Naomi Togashi and then WIBA champion Ria Ramnarine, as well scoring wins over Ibeth Zamora Silva, Naoko Shibata and Yuko Kuroki, all of whom currently hold world titles themselves.
Sadly for Tada she is now 33 and her 11 world title bouts have seen her take part in a staggering 110 world title rounds with many of those rounds being tough ones, despite her skill and very sharp southpaw jab. In comparison to compatriot Naoko Fujioka, aged 39, Tada is a relative baby however Fujioka, who fights Susi Kentikian in the other female super fight of the night, has got the power to make her life easier. Tada's lack of power has sadly seen her recording just a single stoppage in the last 6 years and that has seen her number of rounds climb as she's been forced to go the distance time and time again.
At her best Tada is talented boxer who can fight when she needs to or rely on her height and reach to get her southpaw jab in to play. There flaws, obviously her power, but she can do a bit of everything other than bang opponents out and, with this fight being in Mexico, we may see her putting more meat onto her shots to try and convince the judges that she deserves the win this time around.
As for Ortiz she's another fighter who has been in with a who's who of female boxing. In her 18 fight career she has shared the ring with Ibeth Zamora Silva, Carina Moreno, Naoko Fujioka, Yesica Yolanda Bopp and of course Tada. The only fighter to have stopped her is the previously mentioned Fujioka whilst Bopp took a dominant 10 round decision against her, other than those two losses, to two of the best out there, she has proven her ability as a fighter.
Wins over Moreno, in 2009 for the WBC Minimumweight title, and Tada, in 2013 for the WBA title, have seen Ortiz become a 2-time world champion. Since beginning her second reign she has gone 3-0 (1) and defended her title twice, though a joke defence against Hye-Soo Park, on the under-card of Koki Kameda's bout with Jung-Oh Son, really was scraping the barrel for what should be considered a defense.
Stood at 5'0” Ortiz is a diminutive fighter, even in the Minimumweight division, though makes up for it in heart, desire and determination. She's scrappy and hard working, and refuses to accept defeat. In fact in her loss to Fujioka she was down 3 times before finally being retired at the end of round 8 needing a KO with no chance of getting it. Whilst stylistically different from Tada she too lacks the power that's sometimes needed to gain the opponents respect but she has the fire that often makes up for her relatively feather fists.
Due to the fact this is a rematch and it's in Ortiz's native Mexico we are expecting a somewhat fiery encounter with Tada knowing she'll really need to make it clear she's winning rounds whilst perhaps being forced out of her usual style of fighting. We still suspect to see the Japanese fighter using her sharp jab but we imagine she'll have to follow it through more with flurries and whipping in more straight lefts. Sadly we're unsure she can convince the judges that she deserves the decision in her opponents back yard. In her only previous fight outside of Japan Tada was held to a very unfair draw and we wouldn't be surprised if Ortiz took a debatable win here, like she did in their first meeting.
(Image courtesy of notifight.com)
Here we preview the key female title bouts involving an Asian fighter.