The Atomweight division is certainly not a division that gets much attention, despite featuring a number of excellent match ups in recent years. It is, after all, a female only weight class and is the smaller weight class in professional boxing, with a weight limit of 102lbs. Despite the fact it's often over-looked it does, typically, give us high intensity action with a lot of leather thrown.
Not too long ago Japanese national Atomweight champion Eri Matsuda vacated her title, and we'll see that vacancy being filled on July 25th, in the first Japanese female title bout of the restart. Not just will we have a new champion being crowned, but we will also be getting a rematch as Kaori Nagai (4-2-3, 2) and Momoko Kanda (10-12-2, 4) clash for the second following a bout last September.
In their first bout Nagai took the victory, claiming her biggest win, with a 6 round split decision. That was a massive win for Nagai and saw her becoming the #1 contender for the Japanese title. Prior to that win there was almost nothing of note on her record. She had failed to win her first 3 bouts, and was 1-2-3 after 6 contests, but the win over Kanda saw him secure a third straight win and she will be coming into the bout with moment on her side.
As for Kanda her record might not be impressive but her career is far from a wash out. The 24 fight veteran has been in with a genuine who's who of the lower weights. She has fought the likes of Ibeth Zamora Silva, Masae Akitaya, Joselyn Arroyo Ruiz, Ayaka Miyao, Kumiko Seeser Ikehara, Yuko Kuroki and Mika Iwakawa among others. Although she has picked up losses she has never been stopped and has always been there to win. She's tough and comes to fight but lacks that single standout trait needed to get wins against the higher level fighters.
At 33 years old we get the feeling that Kanda needs a win here, and will be hungry for that victory. This is likely to be her last title shot, and another loss will see her left in the dark. She has won titles in the past, but we suspect she'll want this one too, to become the third Japanese female Atomeweight champion. She'll also be after revenge. We see those being driving forces for a great performance from Kanda, who think will take a very close, and very hotly contested decision. Nagai will be there to win, she'll give it everything, in what will be a sloppy but high octane war but we favour the driving forces behind Kanda to be the difference here.
Prediction - SD6 Kanda
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.
Here we preview the key female title bouts involving an Asian fighter.