The female scene in Japan is going through a big transition right now as the older generation appear to be ending their careers whilst a new wave of fighters are breaking through the ranks. The likes of Eri Matsuda and Kasumi Saeki are leading the new charge with Eruka Hiromoto not far behind. Another "novice" professional looking to get themselves a title in just a handful of bouts is former kick boxer Kanako Taniyama (2-0, 1) who returns to the ring this coming Monday to take on 36 year old Tomoko Okuda (5-2-1, 1), in a bout for the Japanese female Bantamweight title.
At 32 Taniyama is no young kid rising through the ranks, but is still a professional novice looking to rise quickly through the ranks. She turned to professional boxing after a leg injury limited her ability in kick boxing and she debuted as a boxer in December 2018, on a stacked female only card from Shinsei Gym. In her debut she beat experienced Thai Sumalee Tongpootorn in 2 rounds before following up with a decision over the limited but tough Phannaluk Kongsang this past March.
As we often see with kick boxers who turn to pro boxing later in life Taniyama hasn't got the greatest of footwork, but she's aggressive, appears to have solid power on her shots and despite being a little bit on the crude side, compared to Matsuda and Saemi, she does look like she understands how to put her weight behind shots. There's limitations, but there's enough to be excited about at this early stage in her career.
Okuda on the other hand is a southpaw who turned professional more than 4 years ago, but hasn't really accomplished much since beginning her career, just weeks before her 32nd birthday. Her best wins are a couple of competitive decision wins over the crude but hard hitting Miki Mitsuda in 2016 whilst her most notable results being her losses, a debut stoppage loss to Wakako Fujiwara and a narrow loss to Yoshie Wakasa last year.
Okuda isn't "bad" as such, but she's not particularly good either, and a bout a bout at this level, despite her experience compared to Taniyama's, is a step up in class. It's a step up that we don't feel she'll be successful with, her lack of power and rather basic fundamentals limiting her against the natural fighting spirit of Taniyama.
Okuda will try, she will always try, but Taniyama will simply be too good in the ring, too experienced as a fighter, and too heavy handed. We don't feel Okuda has the skills to make Taniyama pay for her clumsy footwork or her still rough around the edges style, and instead Taniyama will rack up the points and take a clear win.
Prediction- UD8 Taniyama
The Japanese female scene is one that looks set to really build in 2019, with a number of rising hopefuls looking to be fast tracked through the ranks. The creation of the Japanese female titles has been a really great addition and given female fighters something to aim for on their way up the ranks.
On March 13th we see the Japanese female scene take center stage with Victoriva Vol 4, which will feature only female fighters. One of the main bouts on that card will see OPBF and JBC female Bantamweight champion Miyo Yoshida (11-1) defending her national title against JBC #1 ranked contender Yoshie Wakasa (6-0, 2).
The 30 year old Yoshida has been one of the big revelations of the Japanese female scene in the last few years. She began her career in 2014 and despite some struggles to really get going, wining her first two bouts by close decision and losing her 5th bout, she has really shined, winning her last 7 in a row. That current run of wins has seen her avenge her only loss, beating Yuki Koseki just 6 months after losing to her, as well as winning the Japanese female title, defeating Tomomi Takano, and the OPBF female title, defeating Gretel de Paz. Not only has Yoshida won both titles but she has also defended both belts.
Yoshida isn't a big Bantamweight, she's not a quick fighter or much of a puncher. What she does well however is apply intelligent pressure, bringing the fight to her opponent and landing clean shots. Her jab seemed to land more often than that of Tanako when the two fought, despite Takano having a clear reach and height advantage, and her timing when she throws her straight right is very impressive. There is, at times, a messiness to her work, but that tends to lend it's self well to her using his physical strength on opponents, and despite being a small fighter she really is a physically strong one, often able to push opponents around.
The unbeaten Wakasa, also 30, also began her career in 2014 though has not been as active as Yoshida, or accomplished as much, in part that was due to real inactivity in the ring in 2016 and 2017. Despite the lack of experience she is the JBC #1 ranked contender and is an unbeaten fighter with notable domestic wins over Asami Jinnari, who later challenged for the Japense female Featherweight title, and Tomoko Okuda. In just 6 fights she has already taken 2 unbeaten records, and has shown steady improvement through her career.
Watching Wakasa we see a fighter with good timing, a sharp jab, and the ability to cut the distance pretty well. She has managed to beat quicker, more naturally gifted fighters, and moves smartly, using intelligent footwork. She sets an educated work rate, and does appear happy to throw eye catching shots, even if they aren't the crispest. If we're being honest we thought she was lucky against Okuda, but she did land the more eye catching shots, even if she was out landed.
Given the styles of the two fighters we tend to feel that Yoshida will bring the pressure and force Wakasa to fight at her pace. The lack of power, from both, would suggest this is going the distance, but the 6 round distance is something Yoshida has more experience with, as Wakasa has only gone 6 rounds once, and could end up helping the champion further stamp her authority on the bout.
We're expecting a clear but competitive decision win for Yoshida here, who may well move into world title bouts before the end of the 2019.
Here we preview the key female title bouts involving an Asian fighter.