This coming Monday we'll see OPBF female Featherweight champion Wakako Fujiwara (8-3-2, 3) return to the ring as she hunts her second defense, and takes on the once beaten Yoshie Wakasa (6-1, 2) at the EDION Arena Osaka. On paper this bout does show the lack of depth in female boxing, but that's not to take away from a bout that should be very entertaining and hotly contested.
The champion is 38 but has proven to be a late bloomer. She was stopped on debut, and was 1-2-1 after 4 bouts, but since then she has gone 7-1-1, with her only loss in that stretch coming to world champion Hyun Mi Choi this past June. Not only has Fujiwara's record turned around but she's go one to avenge one of her losses, stopping Kana Fukuda in 2017 to avenge her debut loss, and has scored two wins over veteran Kimika Miyoshi, a 3 weight OPBF champion. Unfortunately for her she's what we'd describe as a "battler", with a lack of world class power. She can box, but tends to find herself involved in wars on the inside, which are entertaining but she up her lack of boxing IQ. Like many female fighters at this level, skills seem to come second behind work rate, which is fun to watch, but does magnify the difference between the fringe contenders and the truly world class.
Aged 31 Wakasa is no youngster herself, but she is still significantly younger than the champion. She debuted more than 5 years ago and began here career with 6 straight wins, though they were mostly against limited opponents with the best being Asami Jinnari and Tomoko Okuda. last time out she stepped up, massively, to take on Miyo Yoshida and suffered a wide decision loss to Yoshida in a Japanese female Bantamweight title fight. When you consider that she's going up from 118lbs, for that bout, to 126lbs for the bout, that's a big ask for Wakasa, who will be up against her second best opponent so far.
There's a chance that, over the next few years, Wakasa will cement herself as a title level fighter. Here however we see her taking on someone in form. who's, stronger, bigger and more experienced. Fujiwara is unlikely to ever win a world title herself, but we see her taking a very, very comfortable decision over her fellow Japanese fighter here, even if she does end up resorting to using her size to take the win.
Prediction - UD8 Fujiwara
The month of June has been a relative quiet one for fights in Asia, especially when compared to the incredible action we had in May and the busy schedule set for July. It does however end with a really interesting bout in Korea, as unbeaten local star Hyun Mi Choi (15-0-1, 4) defends her WBA female Super Featherweight title against Japanese challenger Wakako Fujiwara (7-2-2, 2). For the unbeaten queen this will be her 7th defense and her 15th WBA "world title" bout, whilst the challenger will be fighting in her first world title bout, having previously held OPBF and Japanese female titles.
The champion is a really interesting fighter. She was born in North Korea but escaped the regime with her family and has spent her entire professional career in South Korea, where she has been a real success story as a refugee fighter. Her career began, amazingly, with a world title fight in 2008, when she beat Chunyan Xu for the WBA female Featherweight title, to create a notable footnote in boxing history. Since then all but two of her fights have been for some form of a WBA title. She made 7 defenses of the Featherweight title, won the Interim Super Featherweight title, got up graded and has defended the Super Featherweight regular title 6 times already.
Whilst Choi hasn't become a major name in female boxing world wide she has had a few really solid wins in her career. These have included wins over Claudia Andrea Lopez, Sandy Tsagouris, Shannon O'Connell, Fujin Raika, Diana Ayala and Mayra Alejandra Gome, all world class fighters in their own right.
Choi's success has come down to her pure boxing skills. She's a basic fighter, but one who follows the text book well. She's light on her feet, has good hand speed, and fights to her strengths, keeping the bout at range with her jab, footwork and straight. There is is more to her than he straight punching, but that is certainly her strength and the key to her success so far.
The 38 year old Fujiwara is 10 years older than the champion and notably didn't even debut until she was. Her career got off to a nightmare start, losing by KO in her debut, then fighting to a draw in her second bout. In fact Fujiwara was 1-2-1 after 4 contests and her career didn't seem like it was going anywhere. Amazingly however she has battled back and gone 7-0-1, winning the Japanese female Featherweight title in March 2018 then added the OPBF title less than 4 months later to unify the titles. Whilst her run has been good on paper it is worth noting her biggest wins have come against the likes of Asami Jinnari and Kimika Miyoshi.
Fujiwara isn't the most technically sound boxer, her shots wide to say the least, but she comes forward, fights bouts at her pace and believes in her chin enough to she can take one to land one. Given her age there is clearly a case of father time being on her back, though we do wonder how long she can have left, especially with a style that depends so much on volume and work rate.
Given the huge difference in technical ability, and world level experience, it's hard to see anything but a win for Choi. The bigger question is the method of victory, and we're going with Choi to actually stop Fujiwara late on to, through accumulation of clean shots.
Prediction - Choi TKO9
Here we preview the key female title bouts involving an Asian fighter.