We know that some fight fans really look down on female boxing though we'll admit that a bout between two highly skilled female fighters genuinely excites us. Sadly many female fights are mismatches with one fighter a clear favourite over the other and very few female world title fights can be described as a "super fight". This coming weekend however we get a sensational female bout which really does deserve the tag of being a "super fight".
The bout in question will see Japan's sensational Naoko Fujioka (12-0, 6), one of the best pound-for-pound female fighters on the planet and the current WBA Super Flyweight champion, travelling to Germany to take on the European queen of the lower weights Susi Kentikian (33-2-0-1, 17), the current WBA Flyweight champion. It's a clash of cultures, a clash of two elite fighters, a clash of champions and chance for both fighters to score a genuinely career defining victory. It's as close to to a perfect bout as can be made in female boxing.
Fujioka is, to us, the most naturally talented and technically proficient female boxer on the planet. If you're a boxing fan Fujioka is a joy to watch and despite being 39 years old she still appears to be fresh as a daisy. She's a sharp and accurate fighter who has all the tools to impress any fan watching.
It was in the amateur ranks that Fujioka first made her name though since turning professional in 2009 she has really been nigh on unbeatable, in fact nobody has even run her close in what has been a sensational career. She claimed her first title, the OPBF Minimumweight title, in just her 4th bout, her first world title, the WBC Minimumweight just 2 fights later and, last year, she jumped from Minimumweight to Super Flyweight to win a second divisional world title. The most impressive thing about Fujioka however isn't her title achievements but her opposition. In just 12 fights she has beaten several world class fighters such as Naoko Shibata, Anabel Ortiz, Victoria Argueta and Naoko Yamaguchi, a phenomenal foursome.
The big question for Fujioka isn't her talent, and in fact it's not even her age, it's how she will fight on the road. This will be her first fight outside of Japan and just her second bout outside of the Korakuen Hall. How she will fight in Germany is a really big issue given that German judging has been often been questioned over the years with many suggesting it's the worst in the world. Will Fujioka fight like she'll need a stoppage or will she fight like her usual and box intelligently? More importantly she'll know this is her chance to impress a whole new audience to become a 3-weight world champions, just the second in Japanese history, those may well drive her on and neutralise the crowd.
For those who haven't seen Fujioka we have managed to track down the footage of her sensational performance against Yamaguchi, a fight that shows just how talented the Japanese fighter is
Germany's popular Kentikian, popularly known as the "Killer Queen" has long been one of the figureheads of German female boxing and is one of the most popular female fighters in Europe. Not only is she popular but she's also talented, hard working and a fighter who often fights at a hectic and exciting pace. She lacks power but more than makes up for it in sheer determination and limitless energy.
Aged 27 it does seem like Kentikian has been around for years and in fact she has been. She won her first world title, the WBA female Flyweight title, way back in 2007 and would later unify it with WBO title as she racked up defense after defense after defense. Some of those defenses were genuinely class and came against the likes of Nadia Raoui whilst others were little more than stay busy fights, such as her defense against Nadia Hokmi. Sadly for Kentikian she came a cropper in 2012 losing back to back decisions to Melissa McMorro and Carina Moreno. Since 2013 however she has run 4 successive wins and reclaimed the WBA Flyweight title whilst scoring a revenge victory over Carima Moreno and notable victories over Simona Galassi and Dan Bi Kim. That performance against Kim can be seen in full here for those who haven't got around to see the German in action.
In the ring Kentikian is popular, fights like a whirlwind but is diminutive, light hitting and has a lot of miles on the tank for a 27 year old. She's also not the most technically skilled preferring work rate over accuracy and accumulation over sitting on her shots. It's worked for her on the whole but her two losses do stand out to suggest that she's not unbeatable and that she's not the untouchable fighter she once looked.
Going in we're viewing this as a boxer against a swarmer. Typically those stylistic matches favour the swarmer, but the boxer here is the bigger fighter, the naturally stronger fighter and the one with more to gain in terms of reputation. On the other hand the swarmer, Kentikian, will be the fan favourite, will have home comforts and will possibly even get the edge with the judges. With those things in mind we are expecting something a little bit special with both looking break down the other fighter in a potential female FOTY.
Usually we'd favour a German champion at home but we really think Fujioka is on a different level to Kentikian and we suspect she'll show that class late to wear down a tiring Kentikian in the later rounds of a genuine thriller. If you're a boxing fan we need to advise you not miss this one.
This coming weekend is one of the craziest we've known since we first started this site last year. There are so many big fights, so many big shows and so much action that it's easy to forget at least 1 or 2 fights, it's inevitable that when you get too many fights one slips through the net.
One fight that almost slipped through was this weekend's WBA female Flyweight title fight between Korea's Dan Bi Kim (9-2-1, 2) and the defending champion Susi Kentikian (32-2-0-1, 16), AKA "The Killer Queen", one of the truly sensational female fighters and one of the most popular in Europe.
It's surprising that Kim could ever slip through the net due to her memorable 2009 contest with Nongmuay Kokietgym for the WBC interim female Light Flyweight title. That bout was everything detractors of female boxing point to when trying to make their point. Kim, who looked little more than a street fighter, had 5 points deducted for fouls that included biting her opponent in a contest that was less "boxing" and more a no holds barred fight.
In that fight Kim rushed with her head, wrestled, used head locks and every dirty trick in the book. In fact Kim could well have taught the likes of Bernard Hopkins a few new tricks which aren't in the book.
Since the first fight between Kim and Nongmuay the two women did fight again, this time in a more orthodox contest which saw an improved Kim giving a decent account of herself, especially compared to her first fight with her first fight against the Thai. Unfortunately though there is nothing to suggest that Kim has become world class, despite the fact she did win the very lightly regarded IFBA Minimumweight title earlier this year with a decisive decision win over Dorkmaipah Kiatpompetch, herself a total novice in the ring.
Kim's best opponent so far is Nongmuay, the woman who holds both defeats on Kim's record. To call Nongmuay world class however is really stretching the definition of "world class" and she's not much better than the Korean.
Unfortunately for Kim she is going from fighting the likes of Nongmuay and Dorkmaipah to fighting the truly world class Kentikian, a fighter who is on the fringes of being one of the elite female pound-for-pound fighters.
Although not a big puncher Kentikian has all the other tools a fighter could wish for. She is fast, intelligent in the ring, has great stamina, fantastic movement, always has a plan B and can box either going forward or going backwards. She's not flawless but she is very, very talented as shown by her very impressive record which includes wins over a notable who's who of female boxing such as Simona Galassi, Carina Moreno, Teeraporn Pannimit, Nadia Raoui and Ana Arrazola.
Whilst Kim's style is a nightmare for anyone due to her unpredictability and flat out roughness she's unlikely to be able to intimidate Kentikian who will likely use her accurate punches and movement to great effect as Kim rushes in only to get tagged repeatedly.
We'd love to see Kim with a good trainer as she has the toughness to match the likes of Momo Koseki though at this point in her career a good trainer likely doesn't want her and another loss here could see no one in boxing wanting her. She's a real handful for all the wrong reasons and will likely give Kentikian a headache despite losing clearly.
(Picture, of Kim, courtesy of http://www.koreaboxing.co.kr/)
Here we preview the key female title bouts involving an Asian fighter.