Whilst we have 2 title fights in Tokyo this coming Saturday it's worth noting there will actually be a third title fight take place in Japan, with the lesser of those coming in Kanagawa as Japanese veteran Kimika Miyoshi (14-12-1, 5) defends her Japanese female Featherweight title. In the opposite corner to the 35 year old champion is little known challenger Aira Midorikawa (5-0, 1), also 35, in what will be her first title bout of any kind.
Miyoshi is a legitimate veteran, with more than 11 years professional experience behind her. That long career has been filled with ups and downs, from losing her first 2 pro bouts to winning her OPBF title back in 2013, fighting in world titles bouts and becoming a rare 3 weight OPBF champion. She's not had a smooth career, but she has had an under-rated, and successful, one with bouts across the bout and getting chances to test herself with some of the best out there.
Although an inconsistent fighter through her 27 fight career Miyoshi has proven to be tough, exciting and aggressive. Sadly though Miyoshi is slow, cumbersome, technically limited and has neither impressive hand speed or foot speed. She's a trier, we'll give her that, but she's incredibly slow, often following opponents around the ring and struggling to get her shots off before her opponent gets away. When she managed to get her work off on the inside she looks good, but it often takes a willing opponent for her to get the action up close.
Debuting at the age of 33 in 2017 Midorikawa really didn't have much time to impress and sadly she hasn't really managed to do much at all as a professional. Her competition so far has been novices, and she hasn't looked great, despite remaining unbeaten. She's looked slow, clumsy and very light punching. Unlike some fighters in female boxing, who can turn pro late with a strong amateur background, there doesn't appear to be a natural fighter here, but instead someone that Watanabe Gym are trying to make into a fighter. Had this happened at a younger age Watanabe might have been able to get something out of her, but wee feel it's too little too late.
Watching Midorikawa we see a strong and big looking fighter, she has a cautious style yet has an aggressive mentality, coming forward, but doing so with a lot of jabs and a lot of weight on her back foot. She doesn't appear to have much in the way of power, and struggles to get respect of opponents, which is a genuine issue. That lack of power isn't helped by the fact that Midorikawa doesn't really throw a very good right hand. Her power shot comes from last week, and is so badly telegraphed and slow that it is unlikely to ever stop any one.
Whilst it's clear Miyoshi's career hasn't got long left, we can't help but feel she should have far, far too much for Midorikawa, who has shown little to test the veteran champion. We expect Miyoshi's pressure and work rate to be the difference here and for her to out work the challenger en route to a clear decision.
Prediction - UD6 Miyoshi
This coming Monday we'll see OPBF female Featherweight champion Wakako Fujiwara (8-3-2, 3) return to the ring as she hunts her second defense, and takes on the once beaten Yoshie Wakasa (6-1, 2) at the EDION Arena Osaka. On paper this bout does show the lack of depth in female boxing, but that's not to take away from a bout that should be very entertaining and hotly contested.
The champion is 38 but has proven to be a late bloomer. She was stopped on debut, and was 1-2-1 after 4 bouts, but since then she has gone 7-1-1, with her only loss in that stretch coming to world champion Hyun Mi Choi this past June. Not only has Fujiwara's record turned around but she's go one to avenge one of her losses, stopping Kana Fukuda in 2017 to avenge her debut loss, and has scored two wins over veteran Kimika Miyoshi, a 3 weight OPBF champion. Unfortunately for her she's what we'd describe as a "battler", with a lack of world class power. She can box, but tends to find herself involved in wars on the inside, which are entertaining but she up her lack of boxing IQ. Like many female fighters at this level, skills seem to come second behind work rate, which is fun to watch, but does magnify the difference between the fringe contenders and the truly world class.
Aged 31 Wakasa is no youngster herself, but she is still significantly younger than the champion. She debuted more than 5 years ago and began here career with 6 straight wins, though they were mostly against limited opponents with the best being Asami Jinnari and Tomoko Okuda. last time out she stepped up, massively, to take on Miyo Yoshida and suffered a wide decision loss to Yoshida in a Japanese female Bantamweight title fight. When you consider that she's going up from 118lbs, for that bout, to 126lbs for the bout, that's a big ask for Wakasa, who will be up against her second best opponent so far.
There's a chance that, over the next few years, Wakasa will cement herself as a title level fighter. Here however we see her taking on someone in form. who's, stronger, bigger and more experienced. Fujiwara is unlikely to ever win a world title herself, but we see her taking a very, very comfortable decision over her fellow Japanese fighter here, even if she does end up resorting to using her size to take the win.
Prediction - UD8 Fujiwara
The female boxing scene is a rather weird one right now. We have a lot of really exciting emerging talent around the globe and then we have a big drop off to the domestic type fighters. That's seen quite clearly in the upcoming Japanese Featherweight title fight between Miki Mitsuda (5-5, 4) and Kimika Miyoshi (13-12-1, 5), who are both rather limited fighters. On paper this looks like a 50-50 bout, which is always a good thing, but it certainly doesn't look like a title fight.
Despite it's looks this is going to be a bout for the national title, and that's kinda disrespectful to the belt in some ways.
Despite our complaints however the bout looks like it could be a fun one to watch.
The limited, but relatively hard hitting, Mitsuda enters as the Japan and will be looking to make her first defense of the title. She won the belt this past April, when she stopped Asami Jinnari in their second bout, following a stoppage loss to Jinnari in 2018. She's turned her career around from a 1-4 start, but has yet to impress and has fought pretty much her whole career against low level domestic opposition. On paper she looks like a fearsome puncher, but in reality her record says more about her opposition than herself, and she's never likely to find herself competing on the world scene. She's crude, open and really just proof of why sometimes having a title says more about eligibility than skills.
At 35 years old Miyoshi is probably on the slide, though as we've seen in recent years female fighters do tend to slip a lot slower than their male counterparts. Sadly for Miyoshi she has lost her last 4, though that has included losses to Shannon O'Connell, Hyun Mi Choi and Wakako Fujiwara. At her best Miyoshi is a fringe world class fighter who has claimed OPBF titles over 3 weight classes, Bantamweight, Super Featherweight and Featherweight and has proven to be a durable fighter. Sadly she's certainly slowing down and is not the fighter who upset the likes of Riyo Togo and Chika Mizutani. Instead she's a fighter who is low on confidence and getting older by the fight.
Coming in to this it seems like the fighter on the 4 fight slide should be the under-dog against the champion, who has stopped her last 2 opponents and avenged her most recent loss. We however are picking the experience, toughness and durability of Miyoshi. We feel Miyoshi will simply wear down and Mitsuda, mentally and physically to take the win. Mitsuda will likely start the better of the two, but Miyoshi will come on strong to take the win.
Prediction - UD6 Miyoshi
Courtesy of Boxrec.com
To kick off the new "Female" section of Asian boxing we couldn't have picked a more interesting female "world" title bout.
In one corner we have Japanese veteran Fujin Raika (25-7-1, 10), pictured below, and in the other other corner is unbeaten Korean Hyun-Mi Choi (7-0-1, 2), pictured opposite. Both are former world champions and both are looking for a chance to stamp some authority on the Super Featherweight division as they battle for the WBA "interim" title,
Of the two fighters it's fair to say that Raika, 37, is the more tested fighter having been a professional for more than a decade. Her career, a legendary one, has seen her sharing the ring with a veritable who's who such as Chevelle Hallback, Jelena Mrdjenovich and Ann Saccurato.
Although she is seen as being on the slide Raika does bring real experience a genuine toughness and a natural size advantage having competed regularly at the Lightweight limit in recent years and also having fought as high as Light Welterweight. These qualities will always make her a tough fighter to deal with and if she gets inside she can let her hands fly.
At just 22 years old Choi is by far the younger, fresher fighter. Of course she is trading that off against her relative lack of experience though she has been a WBA Featherweight champion, in fact this will be her 9th straight contest for a world title though it will also be her first bout at the Super Featherweight limit having been a career Featherweight.
Stood at 5'7" Choi will have a height and reach advantage over Raika though it's incredibly important that shes uses it and stays on her toes. She's a lovely straight puncher when she gets in to a rhythm though it can sometimes take a few rounds for her to get her boxing going and this could see her having some problems.
Courtesy of Boxrec.com
This fight really does seem a bit of a boxer v brawler contest.
The brawler, Raika, in this case is the bigger fighter and a bigger puncher though is several years removed from a notable victory. She has proven, against really good fighters, that she's a handful and has shown a willingness to do what it takes home or away to try and win.
The boxer, Choi, on the other hand is a fighter who is developing from a young girl to a fully grown woman. Her move up in weight is as much down to her frame filling out. She may have been fighting at Featherweight but she always looked big at 126lbs.
As with many fights of this stylistic match up the boxer will need to have the power and speed to keep the brawler from just walking in and unloading. Inside Raika will be able to bang away at the long midsection of Choi and will be a real danger woman.
For Choi this is about what does with her feet just as much as her hands. She'll be quicker with her feet and hands though she'll need to have the awareness to avoid walking herself into the corners where Raika will be able to have a field day. Choi hasn't the power to put Raika away, very few have, though she'll need to get her attention early and make sure Raika respects her. If she can't get the respect of Raika this will be very difficult.
Although Choi will find this bout very difficult, her toughest since her split decision victory over Claudia Andrea Lopez, we imagine she'll just have enough down the stretch to take a close and very competitive decision against the Japanese veteran.
Here we preview the key female title bouts involving an Asian fighter.