It's fair to say that July 9th is not one of the biggest boxing days of 2021 but it is a day that will allow female boxing to shine with two female title fights taking place on a Golden Boy promoted card in Los Angeles. Of the two bouts, the more interesting will see WBO female Light Flyweight champion Tenkai Tsunami (28-12-1, 16) clash with WBA female Minimumweight champion Seneisa Estrada (20-0, 8), in what is a bout that promises to be something very special.
On paper it's easy to over-look this bout, and generally it's easy to over-look female bouts in general, after all Tsunami has 12 losses and a draw to her name in just 41 contests. However she's a real veteran who has been consistently competing at the world level over the last decade, has shown no fear of opponents, and is going through one of the best runs in her time as a boxer.
Estrada may well be the best female fighter in the sport, and the potential face of female boxing, but this bout promises to be among her toughest, and she's in there with someone who embodies the samurai spirit of Japanese boxing. When you combine the explosive skills and power of Estrada, with the work rate and determination of a fighter like Tsunami you tend to get something incredibly fun to watch. The sort of bout female boxing needs more of.
For those who haven't followed female boxing until recently the exploits of Tsunami are really worth talking about. The 36 year old has been a professional since 2005, boxing before the Japan Boxing Commission even recognised female boxing. She quickly climbed through the ranks, despite some early setbacks, and won the WBA female Super Flyweight title in 2009. She managed to make 4 defenses of that title before losing to the huge punching Naoko Yamaguchi in 2012. That loss saw her fall to 18-4 (7) and began a downfall in her career that resulted in her losing 5 of her following 6 bouts, with the losses coming to a who's who of female boxing stars like Janeth Perez, Mariana Juarez, Zulina Munoz, Yessica Chavez and Arely Mucino. After that string of results it appeared she had become a journey woman with a 19-9 (8) record. Since then however she has rebuilt her career, and is 7-1-1 (6) since 2016, with a move down to Light Flyweight really helping her re-establish herself as a world class fighter. Not only has she captured the WBO female Light Flyweight title since moving down in weight, stopping former amateur standout Chaoz Minowa, but she has also defended the title 3 times.
In the ring Tsunami lives up to her name. She simply keeps coming. She's tough, she has a really good work rate, she comes forward and she likes a fight. For a 36 year old she has a great engine, and real toughness. The fact she was a world champion at 115lbs before re-emerging at 108lbs shows her physical toughness and strength. Sadly she isn't the most technical fighter out there. She can be out boxed, she is slow of foot, and she she's not great when chasing an opponent, as we saw in her 2015 loss to Carolina Rodriguez, but in a toe to toe war there are few better than Tsunami.
Whilst Tsunami is part of the old wave of female boxing Estrada is certainly part of the newer wave, despite making her debut all the way back in 2011. In fact her career really struggled to get going as she fought twice in 2011, fought her third bout in 2014 and then took over a year away before her 4th bout. Thankfully however since 2015 she has been in action regularly and has really built a reputation as one of the best female fighters in the sport. That has really been on show in recent years with wins over notable opponents like Anahi Torres, Debora Rengifo, Gretchen Abaniel, Marlen Esparza and most recently Anabel Ortiz. She hasn't just been beating fighters however, she has been dominating them and rarely losing a round. In fact not only has she been out boxing and out fighting decent opponents but she has also been scoring some really blistering stoppages as well, most notably her blow out over Miranda Adkins. She really does look like one of the few female boxers who can do it all, and given her in ring style, her personality and her looks she really does seem poised to become the star of female boxing, and at 29 "Super Bad" could very easily be exactly what female boxing needs to build on.
In the ring Estrada is aggressive, she sometimes takes a risk or two that she doesn't need to as a result, but she's quick, sharp, technically very solid, heavy handed, can box, move, fight, brawl and punch and she really does tick every box. Not only is she capable of doing everything in the ring, but she's doing it against some top opponents, making Anabel Ortiz, one of the longest reigning champions in boxing history, look like a second rate fighter. Estrada is special. She's the type of fighter than can change perceptions about female boxing, if she gets the right opponents, and genuinely we think she has the perfect opponent to show what she can do here.
As mentioned in a fire fight Tsunami is going to be very, very hard to beat. Estrada might well try to have a fire fight, but we don't think she'll try that, or at least not for long. Tsunami's slow feet will instead allow Estrada to bounce in and out, to unload shots, and to use Tsunami as target practice. Tsunami's toughness, will to win and aggression will mean she'll refuse to back down, and she'll keep coming and coming.
We suspect Estrada's skills will neutralise Tsunami for the most part, with the Japanese fighter having just enough moments to make the fight exciting, but nowhere near enough to make it competitive. After 10 rounds there won't be any confusion over who deserves the win, but Tsunami's heart will recieve a lot of praise, as will Estrada's boxing, aggression,and skills.
Prediction - UD10 Estrada
Fans of female boxing are set for a big day this coming Sunday with two notable shows featuring female boxing. The first of those is an all female show, headlined by a Japanese domestic title fight. The second card is headlined by a much higher profile bout as WBO female Light Flyweight champion Tenkai Tsunami (27-12-1, 16) defends her title, for the third time, and faces Shione Ogata (11-6-1, 3) in a solid looking match up.
Although not a huge profile bout it's certainly an interesting one, and one that should give us some great action, in fact every Tsunami bout gives us great action.
The 36 year old Tsunami is a true veteran of the female boxing scene. She has been a professional since 2005 and has faced a genuine who's who of who of female boxing during her long, 40 bout, career. Among the many fighters that she has faced are the likes of Ayaka Miyao, Kayoko Ebata, Janeth Perez, Mariana Juarez, Jessica Chavez, Carolina Rodriguez and Naoko Fujioka. Through out her career she has always been a wonderfully fun fighter to watch with an aggressive, exciting, style. She's proven to be tough, durable, and with a great engine.
Despite being 36 Tsunami doesn't seem to be coming to the end of her career. In fact she has had a real Indian summer in recent years. She became the WBO female Light Flyweight champion in 2018, more than 5 years after losing the WBA female Super Flyweight champion, and has recorded 2 defenses of the title as well as fighting to a thrilling draw with Naoko Fujioka in a Flyweight world title fight.
The talented Tsunami lives up to the "Tsunami" moniker. She throws a lot of leather, comes forward a lot and despite fighting at Light Flyweight she's a physically strong fighter, likely explaining why she had success at Super Flyweight in the past. She's one of the most fun female fighters to watch but she's also a flawed fighter, and she can be out boxed at range, and isn't particularly quick on her feet or the sharpest puncher out there. She's a nightmare to fight, but a good game plan can neutralise her aggression.
At 32 years old Ogata is no spring chicken herself and she's has been a professional since 2012. In that time she has had 18 bouts with some very mixed results. Early on she struggled to get her career going, and lost 5 of her first 6 bouts. Since then however she has gone 10-1-1 (3) and has really found her form. Not only has she been on a good run of form but she has also been tasting success and winning belts. In fact she has managed to win the WBA Asia, WBO Asia Pacific and OPBF female Light Flyweight titles. Not only that but she has also scored a massive win over Saemi Hanagata, who later won the WBO Atomweight title.
In the ring Ogata is a more technical boxer than Tsunami, looking to box off her jab, use her footwork, and box, rather than fight. She's crisp, light on her feet, has nice movement and really does seem to be a well schooled fighter. Sadly though she does lack power and struggles to get the respect of opponents, who do try to walk her down. Despite her record she is much better than the numbers suggest and is a fighter who has really developed so much in recent years under the guidance of Nobuhiro Ishida. This is, however, a big step up in class for her, and the first time she has faced a world class Light Flyweight.
Coming in to this we're happy to say that Tsunami is the better fighter. The much, much better fighter. She's also the more aggressive, stronger and more powerful fighter, but also the slower fighter. However Ogata is the better boxer, the smarter fighter and the more well rounded professional.
Style wise this is going to be an interesting one. It will have Tsunami's pressure and aggression taking on the movement and speed of Ogata. This should make for a compelling battle of skills and wills. Sadly for Ogata however the bigger problem for her will be the gulf in experience. She's the better boxer, but she is taking on the biggest, strongest and most proven opponent of her career and we suspect that will play a major role here.
Ogata will box, move, and look to use her skills, but as the fight goes on we see Tsunami beginning to out work, out battle, out muscle and break down Ogata. In the end we suspect a gutsy Ogata will come up short on the cards of a thrilling 10 rounder.
Prediction - UD10 Tsunami
On December 14th Tenkai Tsunami (26-12-1, 15) will return to the Light Flyweight division as she seeks her second defense of the WBO female Light Flyweight title. In the opposite corner to the champion will be 2-time world title challenger Jessebelle Pagaduan (12-1-1, 5), from the Philippines, in what looks like a very interesting match up on paper.
The champion, who is a proper veteran, has been a professional since 2005 and this will be her 40th professional bout. On paper her record does look blotchy to say the least, but she has been in 12 world title bouts and faced a genuine who's who of female boxing during her long career. During that she has faced the likes of Ayaka Miyao, Kayoko Ebata, Naoko Yamaguchi, Janeth Perez, Mariana Juarez, Zulina Munoz, Jessica Chavez and Naoko Fujioka. Given that level of competition there is no wonder she has picked up losses, with all of them coming by decision and the majority coming in her opponents back yard.
Although not an elite level fighter Tsunami is clearly world class and is a 2-weight world champion, having won the WBA Super Flyweight title more than a decade ago before dropping in weight to win her current title last year. She's tough, sets a good work rate and hits solidly, without being a concussive puncher. To beat her an opponent needs to keep her off balance, using quick feet and making her chase them. That however is easier said than done and few have the stamina, toughness and physicality to do so over 10 rounds.
Pagaduan has twice challenged for world titles in Japan, and twice been rather unfortunate. Her first world title fight came back in 2014 when she came up against the excellent Nao Ikeyama, who was simply too good for Pagaduan and came far too early in Pagaduan's career. Her second ended after a round with a technical draw against Kumiko Seeser Ikehara. Since then she has won 5 in a row, though all 5 wins have come against very limited opposition.
Footage of Pagaduan isn't too great, though what is available shows an aggressive, speedy yet small fighter. She has the speed and aggression to be in some exciting fighters, and if she can get back down to 102lbs she could be a really fun fighter down there with the other small fighters. Sadly at Light Flyweight, and against a strong Light Flyweight like Tsunami, her size is going to be a real issue and she'll be bullied around.
We suspect that Pagaduan will come to will and will start fast, with a lot of early success thanks to her speed. That however will change as the bout goes on, and the weight, strength and power of Tsunami will wear her down, breaking her spirit and stopping her late on.
Prediction - TKO9 Tsunami
Recently we saw Japanese fighter Kazuto Ioka being wrongly proclaimed by many as the first Japanese 4-weight world champion. Whilst he was the first man to achieve that feat, he was the second fighter to achieve it, following in the foot steps of Japanese boxing queen Naoko Fujioka (18-2, 7), who subsequently went on become Japan's first 5 weight world champion as well.
This coming Friday Fujioka returns to the ring to defend her WBA female Flyweight title, as she takes on 2-weight world champion Tenkai Tsunami (26-12, 15), in what is a really highly anticipated female show down between two of the best female fighters Japan has given us.
Whilst their is certainly a new wave of Japanese female fighters, such as Kasumi Saeki and Eri Matsuda, both Fujioka and Tsunami are part of the last generation and have lead the way for the younger fighters to make their mark on the sport. As a result this has the feeling of a real meeting of two significant fighters from the last generation, even if both are perhaps coming to the end of their great careers.
Fujioka really has been a legend of female boxing. Yes she lacks the high profile of Claressa Shields and Katie Taylor, but her career has seen her win world titles from Minimumweight to Bantamweight, moving up and down the scales, and defeat the likes of Naoko Shibata, Anabel Ortiz, Naoko Yamamguchi, Mariana Juarez, Shindo Go and Irma Sanchez. She has chased legacy fights, and both of her losses with were very competitive decisions on the road to local heroes, with a loss to Jessica Chavez being a rather dubious one to say the least.
In the ring Fujioka can box or brawl. She did hit quite hard early in her career, at Minimumweight, but at the higher weights her power has lost something. Saying that she's still a solid puncher, but no longer has real stopping power with just 2 stoppages in her last 9 wins. Instead relying on her skills, intensity and accuracy, rather than her power to pick up wins.
Whilst Fujioka is a real legend of female boxing, it's fair to say that Tsunami deserves a similar description, despite her less than stellar record. The 34 year old made her debut way back in 2005, before the Japanese Boxing Commission even recognised female boxing. She would become one of the real stars of the early days of female boxing in Japan, winning the JWBC Flyweight title and winning an IFBA title before winning the more significant WBA female Super Flyweight title in 2009. Since then she has fought a real who's who of female boxing, often travelling for some of her biggest bouts. Her competition has included, but isn't limited to, Kayoko Ebata, Naoko Yamaguchi, Janteh Perez, Mariana Juarez, Zulina Munoz, Jessica Chavez, Carolina Rodriguez, Arely Mucino and Gretchen Abaniel.
The problem for Tsunami is she's often come up short on her travels, losing in South Korea, Mexico and Chile, with losses in her last 8 road bouts. Despite those losses she has proven, where ever she fights, that she is tough, is full of energy and always looks to have a fight. Sadly though she has shown a lack of speed, poor footwork and can be out boxed, out thought and out sped, which have all been issues through her career. She's aggressive but clumsy, exciting, but flawed.
Whilst we rate both fighters very highly we believe that Fujioka's more rounded skill-set, her ability to move and use her speed and feet is going to be the difference here. We're expecting an intelligent display from the champion, who will be forced to trade at times, but will control the distance and tempo en route to adding another notable win to her legendary career.
Prediction UD10 - Fujioka
One of many notable bouts this coming Sunday will see Japan's Tenkai Tsunami (25-12, 14) defending her WBO female Light Flyweight title against Filipino challenger Gretchen Abaniel (18-9, 6). For the champion the bout will be her first defense, following her title win in March against Chaoz Minowa, whilst Abaniel will be looking to finally win a big one and become a world champion, after having come up short in a number of title challenges.
The Japanese fighter is a true veteran, having made her debut back in 2005, and since then she has faced a real who's who whilst becoming a 2-weight champion. Her first reign, as the WBA female Super Flyweight champion, began in 2009 and saw he hold the title until 2012. She would then attempt to become a 2-time champion but failed in title bouts against the likes of Janeth Perez, Mariana Juarez, Zulina Munoz and Jessica Chavez. Given that level of competition there is little wonder why Tsunami began to collect losses but she always put up a good effort, fighting hard for the 10 rounds. Although she was gritty and determined she just kept coming up short to elite level opponents.
In March it seemed like Tsunami was getting her last shot as she took on Minowa for the WBO female Light Flyweight title. At the age of 30, and having had a hard career, it was unclear what Tsunami had left until she out worked and broke down the former amateur standout in 8 rounds, with Minowa being saved by her corner whilst looking completely exhausted by the time they saved her.
The 32 year old Abaniel has been a true servant to Filipino boxing since making her debut back in 2006. Since then she has regularly competed with world champions, fighting the likes of Cho Rong Son, Samson Tor Buamas, Katia Gutierrez, Teeraporn Pannimit, Ayaka Miyao, Kumiko Seeser Ikehara and Cai Zong Ju. Like Tsunami she has often come up short against the best opponents she's faced, but has regularly given good value as a valiant loser.
Abaniel is technically capable, though lacks power and physicality especially given that she's someone who has fought much of her career at Atomweight and Minimumweight. For this bout she's going up to be up at Light Flyweight, against someone who has been a world champion at Super Flyweight. Whilst she's technically very good we see the strength and power difference here being huge and we suspect it will be too much for Abaniel.
We're expecting to see Abaniel start quick, and have moments in the early rounds, but be worn down by the pressure and aggression of Tsunami, who we believe will stop the challenger in the second half of he bout.
This coming Thursday is a big day for women's boxing in Japan, with a show featuring 6 title bouts, including 2 world title bouts. On paper the better of those bouts is a WBO Light Flyweight title bout, as the unbeaten Chaoz Minowa (5-0, 4) takes on veteran Tenkai Tsunami (24-12, 13), with the two fighting for the currently vacant title. On paper the bout might not look anything special, but given the styles of the two women and their experiences, both amateur and professional, we're expecting to see something very special.
Of the two fighters it's Tsunami who is the more proven and experienced, which should be no real surprise given she has 7 times more fighters under her belt. In fact not only that but she also has more world title fights than Minowa has total professional bouts. She might also have more losses, but when you get a fighter like Tsunami the losses only tell a fraction of the real story, and don't have context. The real context to those losses is that she has fought a real who's who of the female boxing world and suffered losses to world class fighters like Naoko Yamaguchi, Janeth Perez, Mariana Juarez, Jessica Chavez, Zunila Munoz, Arely Mucino and Carolina Rodriguez. She could have padded her record, but instead fought a who's who, often above her natural weight.
Whilst it's easy to focus on the losses of Tsunami we can't ignore the fact she's a formerworld champion, having held the WBA female Super Flyweight title from February 2009 to July 2012. During her reign she made 5 defenses, beating the likes of Kayoko Ebata and Rie Fujimoto ahd she showed her world class ability.
In the ring Tsunami is an all action fighter. She is technically limit, but has a great engine, a fantastic work rate, a gritty determinedness, a solid toughness and always makes for good action bouts. She lacks the speed or skills to really test the very best, hence her double digit losses, but is a hard night for pretty much anyone, and could easily have had a better looking record with just a tiny bit of good luck.
Whilst Tsunami has fought almost everyone of note the same clearly can't be said of Minowa, who has only been a professional for about 18 months. So far she has faced very limited opponents from across Thailand, Korea and the Philippines and really not been tested that much. The one test she had came from Carleans Rivas, who Tsunami stopped in 2, and even then she took a clear 8 round decision over the Filipino. In the ring Minowa is an ultra-aggressive fighter who looks to stop every opponent as quickly as possible. So far it has seen her stop 4 of her first 5 opponents and she has racked up only 18 rounds in her first 5 bouts, but she has looked very aggressive and very exciting so far.
Minowa has impressed, but also left us with a lot of questions. We don't know what she's like in the later rounds, how her stamina holds up, what she's like under pressure, how copes with a step up in class and a lot of other questions. From what we've seen, and from what we know of her amateur background, we expect that she'll be able to step up and rise to the challenge, but this is a huge step up in class.
The bout really comes down to whether Minowa can fight at a high pace for 10 rounds, whether she can avoid the heavy shots from Tsunami and whether she has the skills to out box someone of Tsunami's ability and experience. The step up is what makes this so interesting and such a hard to call bout. We edge towards Minowa having the movement and amateur background to out manoeuvre, though can certainly imagine Tsunami's pressure getting to Minowa and the veteran taking a notable win over her younger foe.
Japanese fighters are often accused of “failing to perform” when they fight away from home. Recent examples have shown some truth to that with notable losses for Ryosuke Iwasa and Tomoki Kameda. If you looked at the record of Tenkai Tsunami (21-10, 10) you probably accuse her of under-performing on the road, where she has gone 4-8. The truth however is that she's lost some very tight ones, to some of the very best female fighters on the planet.
On August 22nd we see Tsunami again take to a foreign land as she makes her Chilean debut, and takes on current IBF female Bantamweight champion Carolina Rodriguez (14-0, 1), the first ever Chilean to claim a “world title” in boxing.
Although her record doesn't suggest it Tsunami is a world class fighter. Over her 31 fight career, dating back to 2005, she has shared the ring with a who's who of female boxing. She's scored notable wins over the likes of Ayaka Miyao, Zhang Xi Yan and Kayoko Ebata, whilst suffering losses to the likes of Naoko Yamaguchi, Janeth Perez, Mariana Juarez, Zulina Munoz, Jessica Chavez and Arely Mucino.
Some of those losses have been clear defeats, such as the one to Juarez, others however have been unfortunate, such as the ones last year to Jessica Chavez and Arely Mucino, both of which could easily have gone Tsunami's way.
In the ring Tsunami is an aggressively minded fighter who comes forward relentlessly, she's not an out-and-out pressure fight but she's an intelligent aggressive fighter who comes to fight every time she's in the ring. She can be out boxed, and she can be out fought but very fighters will ever get in the ring with her and have an easy time with her. Sadly where she is flawed is that she lacks killer power, she's not the quickest and she isn't the most accurate, however given that she's got a great engine, and aggressive mentality few will enjoy sharing a ring with her.
Whilst Tsunami fights like her name suggests, always coming forward, the Chilean champion is a very different type of fighter. She has a forward gear but also a backwards gear and whilst she can come out swinging she often seems to prefer to box and move, using her legs, great timing and counter shows. She's very slick and has solid ring IQ even if she does, completely, lack power.
Sadly for Tsunami we can't see any way in which the judges will give her a decision in Rodriguez homeland. She may give the Chilean fight a real nightmare in the ring but the only way the Japanese fighter will win is with a knockout. Given the ability and style of Rodriguez we can't see than ever coming close to happening. As a result we suspect that Rodriguez will retain her title with a decision win, albeit one she has to work very hard to get.
So far this year boxing has been relatively disappointing. Sure we've had a few highlights but on the whole it has been pretty poor with very little in terms of notable matches. Thankfully this changes, in a big way, in March as fights start to come thick and fast at every level.
One of the many interesting looking female bouts takes place on March 7th as the hard hitting youngster Honey Mae Bermoy (6-2, 6), AKA Honey Katsumata, attempts to claim the vacant OPBF female Bantamweight title. Unfortunately for Bermoy she'll not be handed the title and will instead have to go through former world champion Tenkai Tsunami (19-9, 8) in a bout that is likely to give Bermoy the toughest test of her career so far.
Bermoy, aged 20, has proven so far to have venom in her hands. Despite turning professional at just 17 years old she managed to record back-to-back stoppages to begin her career in her native Philippines.
In less than 3 months Bermoy had moved her record to 3-1 (3) and had shown a natural fighting mindset even though she lacked boxing knowledge. The lack of boxing fundamentals saw her falling to 3-2 when her power failed to stop the naturally bigger Leslie Domingo at the start of 2013.
Thankfully for Bermoy her style, power and heart caught the eye of Japanese outfit Katsumata gym who have helped her train in recent bouts and helped her turn her 3-2 (3) record into a 6-2 (6) record which has included a very notable stoppage over Saki Yamada, the older sister of current WBO Minimumweight champion Mako Yamada.
Although Saki was inexperienced as a boxer she was a well schooled former kick boxer and Bermoy was supposed to be the next stepping stone in the development of the young Japanese fighter. Bermoy hadn't read the script and managed to score the upset.
Whilst Bermoy is really just a novice with 8 bouts and 25 professional rounds, none of which have been fought in a title fight, Tsunami is a genuine veteran of the ring. She has been in 28 bouts, she has fought in 8 "world" title fights, a total of 196 professional rouds and is a former WBA Super Flyweight champion.
Tsunami made her debut almost a decade ago and fought her way up the rankings before the JBC even recognised female boxing. By the time she had her first bout sanctioned by the JBC, in 2008, she had participated in 15 contests, winning 12 of them.
Since the JBC has recognised female boxing Tsunami has fought a further 13 times with several of those bouts taking place on enemy turf. Unfortunately it's been Tsunami's willingness to fight on the road and to only fight the best which has seen her drop from 12-3 to 19-9. On paper losing 6 of your last 13 bouts is awful but she had been in with a veritable who's who of female boxing and battles Naoko Yamguchi, Janeth Perez, Mariana Juaurez, Zulina Munoz, Jessica Chavez and Arely Mucino losing to all 6 women who have proven themselves as world class.
Although she has 9 losses on her record Tsunami's last 6 losses have come to genuinely elite level fighters. We don't think that Bermoy is anywhere near that level at the moment. The young Filipino may develop into a top level fighter somewhere down the line with the right experience building fights and developmental work in the ring and in the gym, though we don't imagine that's going to happen any time soon. In fact if anything her lack of experience is going to prove to be her major undoing here against Tsunami who will look to establish herself as the boss early before taking Bermoy into deep water and drowning her.
We do think Bermoy has the potential to win a title in the future, but at this moment in time she's jumping up from domestic level to fringe world level and we think she'll find that that jump is far too difficult for her at this particular moment.
Will Honey Mae survive a Tsunami? Our guess, no chance.
(Picture courtesy of http://www.kadoebi.com/, Tsunami and Bermoy feature
Here we preview the key female title bouts involving an Asian fighter.