This coming Monday WBO female Super Flyweight champion Miyo Yoshida (15-2) looks to make her first defense of her second reign, as she takes on battle hardened veteran Tamao Ozawa (16-5, 6), in what is likely to be Ozawa's final crack at a major world title.
The 34 year old Yoshida first popped on to the radar in 2017, when she beat Tomomo Takano for the Japanese female Bantamweight title, before adding the OPBF title and then dropping down in weight to win the WBO belt in 2019. She made a single defense of that WBO belt until losing it in 2020 to Tomoko Okuda, via technical decision. She reclaimed the belt a few months later when she took a split decision over Okuda in a rematch, and it seemed like rubber bout would make sense, but sadly that's not occurred and instead Yoshida will be against Ozawa.
In the ring Yoshida is a fighter who wants to apply pressure, set a good tempo and get inside where she can smother her opponents power and let her own hands go. She's not the prettiest or the tidiest, but she is physically strong, sets a good work rate and looks to turn things into a fight on the inside. For someone without any stoppages in her first 17 bouts it would seem fair to say she's not a puncher, but she does have enough on her shots to get respect from opponents and her work rate is a real nightmare for many opponents, even those who are more technically skilled than her.
Aged 37 Oazawa has been around for years, having debuted back in 2011. Her career started well, but in 2013 she stepped up to OPBF title level and was stopped inside a round by Tomoko Kawanishi. She would then be stopped just 2 fights later by Kai Johnson. Despite those set backs she get her career back on track, winning the OPBF title in 2015 and getting the chance to fight on the round in 2015 before facing female star Mariana Juarez in Mexico in 2016. Following that loss she would twice fight for world titles, coming up short against Su Yun Hong and Raja Amasheh. Sadly she has been out of the ring for more than 3 years, and her last 3 bouts have all come at a low level.
As a fighter Ozawa is experience, she knows her way around the ring, and she knows how to box. Sadly though she is slow, and as she ages that's not going to change, she has nice timing, but there's real snap on her shots, and she doesn't like to put them together too much. She can also be seen backing up in relatively straight lines, which will be a problem against a pressure fight, like Yoshida. To her credit she is very composed in the ring, but can also be too patient at times, and be caught waiting for a mistake that never comes. At her age it's hard to imagine her keeping up with the work rate of Yoshida, and despite being the more technical fighter it does seem unlikely she'll have the tools to deal with the champion.
We expect Ozawa to have success early on, but as Yoshida gets going her work rate and style should prove to be too much for Ozawa, as the champion scores a clear and wide decision win.
Prediction - UD10 Yoshida
Back in December we saw the previously unheralded Tomoko Okuda (7-2-2, 1) announce herself as a world class fighter as she defeated Miyo Yoshida (14-2) and took the WBO female Super Flyweight with a technical decision over the well liked Yoshida. This coming Tuesday the women face off again with Okuda looking to repeat her career best win, and Yoshida looking to avenge her title loss and become a two time champion.
Going in to their first bout Yoshida was the big favourite. She had won 10 in a row, unified the Japanese and OPBF titles at Bantamweight titles and then moved down in weight to win the WBO title, a title she had defended once before facing Okuda. Okuda on the other hand went into the bout as a 37 year old who's most notable results were a win and a draw against former kick boxer Kanako Taniyama, with the win seeing her win the Japanese and OPBF Bantamweight titles. That win aside there was nothing of value on her record went she dropped 3lbs and challenged Yoshida, and then beat Yoshida.
The key for Okuda in the first bout was her aggression, strength and size. Although both fighters had made their mark at Bantamweight, winning domestic and regional honours, Yoshida was the naturally smaller fighter, and the much less powerful fighter. Coming in she had never scored a stoppage in 15 bouts and was very much a fighter who relied on landing shots at range, and out working opponents up close, rather than trying to hurt them. Okuda on the other hand was a strong fighter. She lacked power, but was a naturally bigger, stronger, fighter. Okuda dropped Yoshida in round 1 and really put her under pressure throughout, not caring too much about what the champion threw back. That was vital to Okuda taking home the win, and the title.
In this rematch we're expect to see more aggression from Yoshida. Her jab has long been one of her main weapons, but Okuda walked through it and the challenger this time around can't look to rely on her long punches. She instead needs to let her hands fly, break down and wear out the champion and look to make the most of being the smaller fighter. Don't fight at range, but get in and swarm Okuda.
As for Okuda she'll look to do what she did in the first fight. She'll pressure and press, and look to avoid being cut, as she was in the first bout. If she can avoid clashing heads with the shorter fighter, and avoid the cuts, we suspect she'll weather some storms, but end up taking a clear, wide decision win here after 10 rounds.
If the bouts ends early, like their first, it will be due to head clashes. Neither fighter is a puncher, neither has question marks about their chin, but head clashes are very possible again here. Sadly, as the slightly taller fighter, Okuda will end up taking the worse of those head clashes but even with that in mind we suspect her more physical style will again bee too much for Yoshida.
Prediction - UD10 Okuda.
On December 13th we'll see WBO female Super Flyweight champion Miyo Yoshida (14-1) return to the ring in the hunt of her second defense, as she takes on 37 year old challenger Tomoko Okuda (6-2-2, 1), who will be getting her first world title bout.
For Yoshida the bout will see her look to continue an excellent run of form, which has included 10 straight wins already and victories at Japanese, OPBF and world level. As for Okuda this bout will see her look to step up from Japanese and OPBF title level into world level, as she pursues the most meaningful win of her career.
Yoshida, who has been celebrated in Japan for being a successful single mother, turned professional way back in 2014. She made her debut and was then out of the ring for almost 2 years before returning in 2016 and attempted to make up for lost time. In 2016 she fought 5 times, going 4-1, and fighting in her first 6 rounds. The following year she avenged her loss, out-pointing Yuki Koseki in their second bout, before advancing to her first title fight, beating Tomomi Takano in an upset win in October 2017 for the Japanese female Bantamweight title. She quickly unified that title with the OPBF title, beating Gretel de Paz, and went on to defend both of those belts once before vacating them in 2019 to pursue a world title fight.
Yoshida's world title shot came in June 2019, when she dropped down in weight to Super Flyweight. Despite coming down in weight she impressed in taking a very wide and clear decision over Casey Morton to become the WBO female Super Flyweight champion, easily out boxing Morton. She returned to the ring 6 months later and out pointed Li Ping Shi in her first defense, as she continued to build her reputation. Since then she has moved gyms and linked up with the very well established Misako Gym with should be adding a new level of professionalism to her training.
When it comes to Okuda we're talking about a woman who debuted in 2015 and has fought every year since. Her debuted ended in disappointment, as she was stopped by Wakako Fujiwara, before reeling off a 5 fight unbeaten run, against fellow novices and limited fighters. The most notable result in that run was a draw, in late 2017, with Tomo Hayashi. She then kicked off 2018 by suffering her second loss, losing a split decision to Yoshie Wakasa. Following her second loss it would have been easy to to suggest Okuda's career was going no where, but since then she has gone unbeaten and actually gone on to claim the OPBF and Japanese female Bantamweight titles, thanks to a technical decision win over Kanako Taniyama earlier this year.
Despite winning the Japanese and OPBF titles Okuda only really has a single win of note on her record, and that's the one over Taniyama from this past January. She has yet to fight over 10 rounds, she is stepping up massively and she has never actually made the Super Flyweight limit in her career, the closest she's been was 115¾lbs 5 years ago. With those things in mind there are some real question marks over her head coming into this bout.
In the ring Yoshida's style is very much based around her straight punches, her movement, and her physical tools. She isn't the strongest fighter, or the most heavy handed fighter out there, but she is accurate, throws very good straight punches, doesn't waste a lot of energy and uses smart upper body movement and footwork to control range. Although she's got a good jab, she also knows how to work on the inside, grind opponents, and do so without taking much return fire. Her one big issue is her lack of power, though hopefully training at the Misako gym will improve that area of her boxing. She's a genuinely smart boxer, and it's clear she has an incredible will to win, inspired by her daughter.
In the ring Okuda is a wild fighter. She comes forward in a clumsy fashion, and looks to make fights messy. She's powerful, or rather she's physically strong, but she is very clumsy and awkward and happy to hold when she needs to. Like many lower quality female fighters her tactics are pretty basic and at 37 she is likely past her physical best. She's rough and tough, but really not all that skilled or talented. Saying that however at the age of 37, and with home advantage, she might be spurred for a career defining performance here, knowing she likely won't get another chance like this.
We know that a fighter being given what they believe could be their last chance can fill them with the hunger to shine and put everything into a performance. Even with that in mind it's hard to see Okuda winning. We suspect Okuda is the bigger puncher, and maybe even the physically stronger fighter, but the skills, speed, movement, accuracy, work rate, and ability all favour Yoshida. We suspect that Okuda will be hungry to shine, but won't be able to match the skills or tempo of Yoshida, who will go on to win round after round, and take a clear decision.
Yoshida can make this easy if she gets behind her jab, but even fighting the wrong fight we suspect she'll just have too much of everything for Okuda and will take a wide decision no matter what tactics she employs.
Prediction - Yoshida UD10
The final female world title bout of the decade will see Miyo Yoshida (13-1) defending her WBO female Super Flyweight world title as she takes on Chinese youngster Li Ping Shi (5-2, 2), as part of a super stacked card at the Ota City Gymnasium in Tokyo. For Yoshida this will be her first defense, after winning the title in June, whilst the 21 year old Shi will be getting her first crack at a world title, and look toe extend her current 3 fight winning run.
The 31 year old Yoshida has made a name for herself over the last couple of years, with her rise from relative obscurity to Japanese, then OPBF and now world champion, all in the space of just over 2 years. She has done so as a single mother, which the Japanese press love to remind us, and has really shown she much improvement from her early days as a boxer. She has stepped up the levels and improved every step of the way, avenging her sole defeat along the way and beating the likes of Tomomi Takano, Yoshie Wakasa and, most recently, Casey Morton.
Although completely devoid of power Yoshida is a solid boxer-mover. She likes to establish range, using her speed and movement to get in and out and ties up well on the inside. Although not a powerful puncher she is surprisingly strong in the clinch, and has pushed around the likes of Wakasa with no issue. What she does really well is time her opponents, and although he shots don't have much weight behind them they do look damaging due to how well she lands her counter shots.
Whilst Yoshida has proven her self at every level whilst climbing through the ranks the same cannot be said of Shi, who is a relative unknown, even in Asian boxing circles. She has been selected as an easy first defense, though with some momentum behind her, including a good win over Yuko Henzan last time out, the challenger will not be there to make up the numbers, and will be going in with some genuine self belief. She has had 3 wins coming into this and despite her youth she does look like a solid, confident and aggressive fighter. Like Yoshida she lacks power, but she comes to fight, and is very much the woman who is going to be pressing the action with her pressure.
Whilst there is plenty of footage of Yoshida out there, including quite a lot on Boxing Raise, the same cannot be said of Shi, though we did manage to get a copy of her 2018 bout against Hyun Hee Gil to get something of a read on her. That footage suggests that she could be a very interesting test for Yoshida, and not the gimme defense that her record suggests. She managed to regularly rush Gil, making the Korean incredibly uncomfortable through out. It wasn't a consistent rush, but it was a regular tactic that left Gil off balance and unable to really respond. A tactic that could unsettle the timing and counters of Yoshida.
We suspect that Yoshida will have to work incredibly hard to take home the win here, though we do expect her to do enough to squeak the decision. Shi will come to win, she will rush, attack and be happy to take one to land one. She's not a big puncher, but the challenger has the aggressiveness to make up for it, and her hooks are thrown with bad intent. Yoshida might be the better boxer, but she will have to take some big shots en route to a win here, and may even be hurt early on by the huge over hard rights that Shi unleashes.
Prediction - Yoshida UD10
June 19th is set to be a hectic day for fight fans thanks to a big show in Chiba. One of the many bouts on that card will see a new WBO female Super Flyweight champion being crowned, as Miyo Yoshida (12-1) and Casey Morton (8-1-3, 1) battle for the currently vacant title. For both fighters this will be their first world title bout, and potentially their only shot at world gold, given that both are the wrong side of 30.
Yoshida has been a revelation over the last 2 years or so. She debuted in 2014, in a 4 round bout, and struggled past Ayaka Sato and then took a significant break from the ring before returning to struggle past Yuko Henzan. Yoshida would win her first 4 bouts, all close decisions, before her luck ran out and she was beaten by Yuki Koseki in September 2016. Since the loss however she has gone 7-0 and shown massive improvements. Her 7-0 run has seen her avenge her loss to Koseki as well as claim the Japanese female Bantamweight title, with a win over Tomomi Takano, and later unify the title with the OPBF female Bantamweight title, which she won in 2018 with a technical decision over Gretel de Paz.
In the ring Yoshida is a good boxer-mover. She lacks power but has shown an ability to fight at a good pace, grit her teeth when he needs to and dig deep to get the win. He victory over Takano was deemed a big upset and since then her confidence has grown and grown. Sadly whilst her confidence has gotten better her competition really hasn't improved, though a win in March against Yoshie Wakasa was among her best wins to date.
At the age of 31 Yoshida is on the wrong end of 30, however Morton is the older fighter, at 35, and is also the fighter with the less impressive form coming in to this bout. The "Lady Hawaiian Punch" also debuted in 2014 and has fought consistently since then, with multiple bouts a year. She has fought not in the US and Mexico but has also been on an Asia tour, of sorts, in recent years with her last 5 bouts being spread between the Philippines and China. We mentioned her form a moment a go and that is, in part at least, due to her 2018 upset loss to Jutamas Jitpong in China, in a bout where Morton was made to look second rate to the Thai. It's also worth noting that over her last 8 she is 5-1-2, with draws against the then debuting Karla Gonzalez and the then 1-2 Samantha Salazar.
To date Morton's best win, at least on paper, is a shut out in the Philippines against Kanchana Tungthaisong, who was a shadow of the fighter she had once been and a narrow win over Japanese female Minimumweight champion Chie Higano. Both several classes below Yoshida, both technically and physically.
Morton will know this may well be her first and only chance at a world title, but she will be up against a naturally bigger fighter who is full of confidence and we suspect that size and belief will be the difference, leading to a clear decision win for Yoshida.
Prediction UD10 Yoshida
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.