On August 20th fight fans will be filling up the Komagatani Gym in Hyogo to watch an all-Japanese WBO Minimumweight title bout between teenager Riku Kano and veteran Katsunari Takayama. That bout is a really interesting one, and one we've been looking forward to since it was first announce. That however isn't the only world title bout on the show with a WBO female Light Flyweight title bout also taking place as the unbeaten Kei Takenaka (11-0, 3) battles against against fellow unbeaten Louisa Hawton (6-0, 3).
Hawton was first brought to our attention by her team more than a year ago, with her then targeting the WBC Atomweight champion Momo Koseki. She then turned her focus towards the WBO Light Flyweight title and was seemingly set to fight Korean Eun Hye Lee, but that bout fell through several times. As a result of Lee's issues the title became vacant and Hawton finally got a shot arranged, though she would have to face Takenaka instead of the Korean.
From the footage available of Hawton she's a genuine pocket rocket. She is aggressive, exciting and comes to fight. The sort of fighter that fight fans love to see in action. Unfortunately as a Light Flyweight she is tiny and has typically been fighting as an Atomweight, at 102lbs. And even there she has looked small.
Despite being a novice Hawton does hold some genuinely notable wins. She has already stopped Angor OnesongchaiGym, who fought Momo Koseki for the WBC title in 2014, and out pointed Filipino veteran Jujeath Nagaowa last year. Sadly she hasn't fought in close to a year, following the multiple issues with getting Lee in the ring, but she has been busy with training camps and should be sharp, though could well be over-trained.
Whilst Hawton is moving up in weight Takenaka is a definitive Light Flyweight. Her career weights have been between 106¾lbs and 110¼lbs and has claimed her only title at the weight, the OPBF female title which claimed in 2014 and made two defenses of. Unfortunately whilst she is a naturally bigger fighter than Hawton her record completely lacks in terms of solid wins, with her best victories coming against very poor Thai's.
In the ring Takenaka can certainly fight, she's part of the Takesago gym and has received a lot of help in her development, with training and exhibitions in Mexico but she has yet to show the effects of that development against good opposition. Hopefully for her however sharing the ring with people like Anabel Ortiz has rubbed off and helped her develop her tools.
Given the style of Hawton we're expecting to see Takenaka pushed all the way and in fact pushed harder than she's ever been pushed. Saying that however we do think natural size difference will play a big part and Takenaka will likely come through with a very close win, a win that may well be partially thanks to fighting at home.
Here we preview the key female title bouts involving an Asian fighter.