This coming Wednesday we see female world title action return to Japan as WBO female Minimumweight champion Kumiko Seeser Ikehara (8-1-2, 3) battles against 40 year old veteran Kayoko Ebata (9-6, 5), in a rematch of a hotly contested bout from May 2015.
Last year these two met with Ikehara taking a 7 round split technical decision over Ebata, with all the cards reading 67-66 one way or the other. The bout was very hotly contested before being stopped, 28 seconds into round 7, following a head clash.
Since their first bout both ladies have been rather inactive with just a single bout each. For Ebata her bout was a 5th round TKO win over Thai novice Sornsawan Sarakarngym, back in March, whilst Ikehara defended her title last November against the limited Momoko Kanda, claiming a 10 round decision.
At her best Ebata was typically a handful for most. Early in her career she pushed Samson Tor Buamas incredibly close in a bout for the WBC female Light Flyweight title. She would later give a competitive effort at Super Flyweight against Tenkai Tsunami in 2010 and a solid effort against Nancy Franco in 2013. It's worth noting however she is now 40, past her best and very inactive with just 2 bouts, combined for 12 rounds, in the last 2 years.
Although a warrior, and tough as old boots, Ebata is still at a very advanced age and has come up short in 4 previous world title bouts, and 2 other OPBF title fights. In fact she is amazingly 1-6 in title bouts.
Aged 31 Ikehara is no spring chicken however she's only been a professional for 4 years and has only featured in 50 professional rounds. Despite her inexperience she is 3-0-1 in world title bouts and has made 3 defenses of her title. That's not to say we don't question her ability, we do doubt she'll be a long reigning champion and her defenses so far lack much in terms of quality, but she's found a win to every bout she's had since September 2009, when she lost to Mika Iwakawa.
Ikehara is less of a battler than her foe but seems to find herself into a war quite regularly. That's resulted in 3 technical decisions, include a pair of opening round technical draws.
Given the fact that Ebata is at the very end of her career we're expecting a shock here and we think she'll just manage to out battle Ikehara and take a narrow decision, likely leading to a third bout in the near future. Maybe we just want to see the fairytale of Ebata winning a title but we'll stick by out prediction, Ebata by decision.
The least significant of two world title fights this coming Wednesday sees WBO female Minimumweight world champion Kumiko Seeser Ikehara (7-1-2, 3) defending her title against fellow Japanese fighter Momoko Kanda (9-7-2, 3). On paper the bout looks farcical with a world champion defending their title against a fighter with a 50% win rate but in reality the bout should be a good one.
The 30 year old champion won the title back in August 2014 with a split decision win over Gretchen Abaniel. Since then she has defended her title twice, with both bouts ending early due to head clashes.
While Ikehara's last two bouts may have ended in less than brilliant fashion she is a world level fighter. She genuinely won a world title and is unbeaten in over 3 years, following a close loss in her second professional bout. That has seen her rise quickly through the ranks to the point where she is now a world champion and holds a notable victory over Saemi Hanagata, who has since challenged for a world title.
In the ring Ikehara is a hard working fighter who has enough skills to box but seems to get involved “up close” an awful lot of the time, hence why 3 of here bouts including the last 2 have ended with head clashes.
As for Kanda she's relatively unknown by the majority of Japanese fight fans. She has fought some notable names, including Ayaka Miyao who beat her last year, though lacks a notable win of any real relevance. Saying that Miyao is the only fighter to have beaten Kanda in the last 30 months, with Kanda scoring 5 wins in her last 6 bouts.
Given that Kanda hasn't scored a notable win we struggle to see that changing here. Instead we see Ikehara taking a clear decision. Despite favouring Ikehara to win we don't imagine she'll be able to stop Kanda who went 6 good rounds with Miyao and has gone 10 rounds with Joselyn Arroyo Ruiz.
On May 6th Japanese fans get a triple header at the Ota-City Gymnasium. Whilst one of those bouts is a mouth watering clash between unbeaten Super Featherweights another is easily over-looked as female veterans collide in a Minimumweight title bout. The bout won't set pulses going but it's one of those interestying match ups which could well end with a fight topping off their career with a big win, at last.
Coming in to the bout the fighter with everything to lose is WBO female Minimumweight champion Kumiko Seeser Ikehara (6-1-2, 3). The champion is a 30 year old who comes in to the bout seeking her 2nd defense of the title. Sadly for Ikehara her first defense, back on February 28th, was a forgettable affair with a clash of heads ending the bout after just a round.
For Ikehara that was clearly a disappointing defense however it does extend her title reign that began last September when he took a split decision win over Gretchen Abaniel.
The champion is a nice boxer to watch. She can scrap when she needs to and she can box when she wants. Her ability has taken her two notable wins, the decision over Abaniel and a decision over Saemi Hanagata, though those two wins aside there is little on her record to be impressed by and there is little to really make her seem world class. In many ways she's lucky to have had the chance to fight for a vacant after the sensationally talented Mako Yamada gave up the belt and retired.
Whilst Ikehara is relatively unproven there is plenty to admire about her and she is developing well as a fighter. Despite being 30 she's a young fighter without many miles on the clock, she's growing in confidence and has developed alongside veteran Nao Ikeyama who appears to have really brought the best out of Ikehara.
As for the challenger, that is 39 years old Kayoko Ebata (8-5, 4) who is in last chance saloon and, unfortunately for her, she's not had much luck in her career.
Ebata turned professional back in 2007 and got her first world title fight in just her 2nd professional bout, unfortunately however she was controversially beaten by Samson Tor Buamas in Cambodia. Just 2 fights later later Ebata lost a close one to Nanaka Kikuch and she soon fell to 3-4 with losses to Tenkai Tsunami and Naoko Shibata. All 4 of those losses had come in title bouts and all 4 had seen her mixing with world class opponents. There was nothing coming easy for Ebata.
Since that hard start we've seen Ebata turn her career around and she's since gone 5-1 with a solid victory over Cho-Rong Son for the OPBF Flyweight as well as a loss, at world level, to Nancy Franco.
In an alternate universe Ebata would have won a world title in her second bouyt and have been one of the fighters who would have helped develop female boxing in Japan. Instead she's 1-5 in title bouts and 0-3 in world title bouts.
On paper this looks likely to go with Ikehara. She's got the better record, she's almost a decade younger and she's the defending champion. In Ebata's favour however is the fact she's better than her record, her promoter is in charge of the show, she's among the very best that Ikehara has faced and she knows that this will almost certainly be her last shot at a world title.
We suspect this will be close though we think that Ebata's bad luck will finally change and she'll claim her world title at last. We don't think she'll hold it for long but we think she'll put it out here in a fight that becomes very messy as it goes on. Whilst it won't be the best fight we see this year the emotions at the end of it will have made it worth watching. And for those wanting to watch it, TV Tokyo have said they will stream it on their website for free!
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Female boxing in the east may not have many stars but it does have an interesting fight scene with several notable fighters. Sadly however many fighters are over-looked for one reason or another, including many world champions. One of those over-looked world champions is WBO female Minimumweight champion Kumiko Seeser Ikehara (6-1-1, 3). The champion, a 30 year old based in Kyoto, won the title last time out when she over-came the more experienced Gretchen Abaniel in what is a career defining win for Ikehara.
Although Ikehara isn't a sensational fighter she is a good one and is much more proven than her record would suggest. The win over Abaniel is the stand out result though she also holds a big win over Saemi Hanagata which is head and shoulders above anything else on her record, other then the win over Abaniel.
At the end of the month we will see Ikehara return to the ring as she attempts to record the first defence of her title and over-come former title challenger Jessebelle Pagaduan (7-1, 4).
Pagaduan's career defining fight was a previous world title tilt, and her only loss, as she was routed by the then 44 year old Nao Ikeyama in the inaugural WBO Atomweight title bout. That bout saw Pagaduan being completely out classed though coming into this bout she will be allowed an extra 3lbs of weight on the scales which may well translate to a more energetic performance.
Prior to the bout with Ikeyama it was hard to say much regarding Pagaduan. She had won the GAB female Minimumweight title but her opponents were limited to say the least with a combined record of 2-6-6. Against Ikeyama she was coming up against an opponent with a 13-3-1 record and the class difference told. Sadly since he Ikeyama bout we've only seen Pagaduan claim a win over a debutant and learn next to nothing.
Whilst Pagaduan is pretty limited she also has another thing to worry about. That's the fact Ikehara and Ikeyama are close friends and stable mates at the Kyoto Fitness Gym. Essentially Ikehara has seen her stablemate dominate Pagaduan and will know what to expect of her challenger here. We're not saying Ikehara is something exceptional but she's a solid fighter and will have had an excellent scouting report on her opponent here.
We suspect Ikehara could beat Pagaduan “going in blind” though with Ikeyama's win and a chance to see Pagaduan in action this really is almost certainly going to be a clear an easy win for the champion who should be too good, too busy and too clever for the challenger.
Earlier this year we saw Japanese teenage Mako Yamada claim the WBO female Minimumweight title and create history by becoming the first female Japanese teenager to win a world title. Sadly however her reign was short lived and she retired from the sport prior to making a defence of the title. It was a disappointing way to see Yamada's career come to an end though it did free up the title for those who did want to fight for it.
Since Yamada's retirement however the title has remained vacant and it's only now that we are set to see a new champion crowned as Japan's little known Kumiko Seeser Ikehara (5-1-1, 3) battles against Filipino foe Gretchen Abaniel (15-5, 6).
Of the two it's Abaniel that is the more well known fighter, not just internationally but also by Japanese fans. The 28 year old "Chen Chen" has been a professional since late 2006 and fought several times for world titles, including a very controversial loss to Cho-Rong Son in 2008 and more recently a decision loss to WBA Atomweight champion Ayaka Miyao. Of those bouts it's the Miyao one that many fans will be interested in, especially considering that was her only other fight in Japan.
Against Miyao we saw Abaniel give a good account of herself early on though by the end she was looking exhausted. We think that whilst that was partly due to Miyao's insane work rate it was also partially down to issue making 102lbs. For this fight she'll be allowed another 3 lbs and that, and probably should, help her with stamina, work rate, durability and power.
As for Ikehara we really need to admit she's a bit of a mystery to us. Aged 29 she hasn't faced much competition so far though she does have a single win of note, a decision over Saemi Hanagata. Other than than the win on Hanagata the only other thing of note about her record is a loss and a technical draw to Mika Iwakawa.
Having been a professional for little over 2 years we can accept that Ikehara hasn't stepped up as a though we cant really understand what she's doing taking a leap up from her previous opponents to a fight with the experienced Abaniel. With that in mind we can only assume that the title will go back to the Philippines with Abaniel who is tried and tested at the world level.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Here we preview the key female title bouts involving an Asian fighter.