This coming Saturday we get a lot of action to look forward to, with big names in action and some massive bouts. Given there are set to be so many big bouts this weekend it can be easy to over-look some bouts, including a potential female fight of the year between Naoko Fujioka (19-2-1, 7) and Marlen Esparza (11-1, 1), who look to unify the WBA and WBC female Flyweight titles. The bout hasn't had the huge fanfare that several other bouts have had, but could end up delivering incredible action and continue the string of thrilling female title bouts we've been having in recent years.
The 46 year old Fujioka, the current WBA female Flyweight champion, is a female fighter who should be destined for a hall of fame induction when she retires. She has been the star of Japanese female boxing for much of her career and done things that really weren't being done, especially not by Japanese fighters. She turned professional in 2009, following a successful amateur career, and despite being 34 when he debuted she has gone on to win world title from Minimumweight to Bantamweight, becoming Japan's only ever 5 weight world champion. Along the way to collecting a trophy cabinet full of belts she has beaten the likes of Naoko Shibata, Anabel Ortiz, Naoko Yamaguchi, Mariana Juarez, Shindo Go, Isabel Millan, Irma Sanchez and Sulem Urbina. She has also been able to travel for fights, with bouts in Germany, Mexico and the US.
In the ring Fujioka is a veteran, with bucket loads of experience, heavy hands, an aggressive style, a great chin and although she's not the tidiest fighter she is a rough, tough handful with decent boxing skills added to a fighters mentality. Even in her mid 40's she has proven to have impressive stamina, and actually gets better as fights go on, starting slowly before getting her engine going and simply out working, out battling and out fighting fighters. Despite a busy style, she's accurate, and lands shots that catch the eye, whilst also keeping opponents too busy to really fight back. Sadly in recent years she began slowing down, in part due to age and inactivity, but she's still one of the best female fighters on the planet, despite being the wrong side of 40.
Aged just 32 Marlen Esparza is something of a spring chicken compared to Fujioka and is part of the new wave of female fighters who turned professional after the 2012 Olympics, like so many of the other top current female fighters out there. As an amateur Esparza won bronze at the Olympics and a Gold at the 2014 World Amateur Championships, before finally turning her attention on the professional ranks in 2017. Sadly her career was somewhat slow to get going, though she did notable fighter in some of the few female bouts to have 3 minute rounds. After winning her first 7 bouts she then came up short against the sensational Seniesa Estrada ina bout for the WBA "interim" Female Flyweight title. In that bout she was out worked, out fought, out boxed and just out-everythinged by Estrada, before the bout was stopped due to a cut, leading to Estrada winning a technical decision. Since that bout Esparza has bounced back big time, and scored her 3 most notable wins, taking decisions over Sulem Urbina, Ibeth Zamora Silva and Anabel Ortiz.
In the ring Esparza is a well schooled boxer, and her amateur pedigree does show through. She's a clean, accurate boxer, who likes to have some space to work with, throws lovely straight shots, and has really good timing, especially on her left jab and short right hands. Sadly though she really struggles on the inside and lacks the power to maintain space, or get the respect of fighters, who will feel comfortable pressuring her and trying to out work her. She's quick and sharp, but is very much a fighter who needs to use her speed, and needs to avoid a tear up at all costs.
Given her youth, speed and style Esparza does have some advantages over Fujioka, and she will need to capitalise on them to beat the Japanese boxing Queen. Sadly though we feel the style of Esparza will be her own downfall. The pressure, tenacity, work rate, strength and stubbornness of Fujioka will almost certainly be too much for her. We expect Esparza to start well, taking the first few rounds with her movement and boxing. But as the rounds go on Fujioka will get closer and closer, before taking control of the bout in the middle rounds and dominating the final rounds.
There could be some suspect scoring to help save Esparza, but we don't see that being enough to deny Fujioka here. Instead we see the judges having it closer than they should, but being unable to deny the Japanese visitor.
Prediction - MD10 Fujioka
When we talk about the best pound for pound female fighter on the planet there are few that can challenger Irish boxing queen Katie Taylor (19-0, 6), the undisputed Lightweight champion, and of the greatest female amateurs of all time and a woman who has already scored a host of notable wins. Sadly the female Lightweight division has essentially cleaned out by Taylor, who has wins over Viviane Obenauf, Anahi Ester Sanchez, Jessica McCaskill, Victoria Noelia Bustos, Cindy Serrano, Eva Wahlstrom, Rose Volante, Delfine Persoon, Natasha Jonas and Jennifer Han. To get a good test she needs to either go over old ground, with bouts against Persoon and Jonas being interesting or move up in weight.
Sadly instead of chasing a legacy defining fight at a different weight Taylor is scraping the barrel and this weekend she will face Kazakh challenger Firuza Sharipova (14-1, 8). On paper Sharipova looks like an okay challenger, but in reality she's a fighter with a horribly padded record, no wins of note, and a career that has been played out just as much in the Kazakh press as the boxing ring. In fact if anything anything she's been in the press more for stupid stories rather than her boxing career.
When we talk about Katie Taylor, we talk about a fantastic fighter who can box, brawl or fight. She's among the best pure boxers in female boxing, but when she needs to dig deep and fight she's proven she can do that too. The only thing missing from her arsenal is fight changing power. She has great stamina, fantastic work rate, a good boxing brain, solid technical skills, she's well polished and determined to prove she's the best. If she had power she would be a truly sensational fighter, instead of just an excellent one.
Sadly when it comes to Sharipova we talk about one who is poor, untested, limited and who's best wins come against fighters that wouldn't even be in the top 10 wins for Taylor. Fighters like Djemilla Gontaruk and Yuliya Kutsenko are the best she's faced, and neither of those are close to being world class fighters. Sadly it's the other opponents that sum up Sharipova's resume best, with fighters like Happy Daudi having shared the ring with her, and Daudi looked like she had stumbled into the ring whilst looking for a friend rather than looking for a fight. Sadly even against someone as limited and poor as Daudi, Sharipova didn't shine, instead she had a punch bag in front of her who essentially gave up being hit rather than gave up trying to win.
Sharipova's record might suggest she has some power, but that really says more about her competition. Only one of her stoppages has come against a fighter with a win, and that was the aforementioned Happy Daudi. Sadly for her she's not going to have the fire power to get Taylor's respect. She's not going to have the skills to test Taylor. She's not going to have anything to make Taylor think twice. Instead Taylor is going to beat Sharipova into submission in a bout that is not just a step up in class, but something more akin to getting an elevator from the basement to the pent house suite. She is going to get a beating here, and hopefully she doesn't have the heart and will to stay in there for too long. Fingers crossed she knows her limits and doesn't take a career changing beat down to Taylor.
Prediction - TKO 5 Taylor
The first world title fight to feature an Asian fight for the new year takes place this coming Saturday in Mexico as Chaoz Minowa (6-2, 5) takes on WBC "interim" female Light Flyweight champion Kenia Enriquez (22-1, 9) in Jalisco. For the Mexican this will be her 4th defense of the title she won back in May 2017 whilst Minowa will be looking to claim a world title at the third time of asking, and do so after more than a year away from the ring.
Although female boxing isn't huge in the English speaking world, despite growing notable in recent years, it has been popular in Latin American for years with numerous Mexican and Argentinian stars. The 26 year old Enriquez looks to be on her way to becoming another female star of the sport. She has bounced back excellently from her sole defeat, to Melissa McMorrow way back in February 2015, and is riding a 9 fight winning run at the moment. Whilst Enriquez hasn't yet beaten a who's who of the female scene she has scored notable wins over Katia Gutierrez, Maria Salina and Jessica Nery Plata and has become one of the clear faces of the female scene at 108lbs.
Watching Enriquez in action is different to watch many Latino female boxers. She doesn't look to set a hectic pace. Instad she's actually quite deliberate, but that's not an insult. She throws crisp, clean straight shots, works off her jab and is very accurate. She slips shots well and puts together heavy shots. She's not a concussive puncher, but she's someone with the thudding power that fighters feel every single time she connects. From a technical stand point she is very good, though perhaps a little on the slow side.
In 2016 Ayako Minowa turned professional, adopting the Chaoz Minowa fighting name. She was full of confidence and seemed like the sort of fighter that had success ear marked for her. She had been a fantastic amateur, had heavy hands, through combinations, looked tough and like a real handful. Just 3 months after her debut she had claimed the OPBF female Flyweight title and had spoke about winning titles in numerous weight classes. Sadly when her competition stepped up in 2018, when she took on Tenkai Tsunami she came up short, being broken down by the rugged Tsunami. A second world title fight that same year saw her fight valiantly but lose a clear decision to Ibeth Zamora Silva. Now aged 32, and with more than a year away from the ring, it's now or never for Minowa.
At the early stages of her career Minowa often fought like she was going to rip through opponents. That changed somewhat later in her career, and against Zamora she boxed smartly, though had her legs taken away through the fight and really slowed down in the second half of the fight. Whilst some of that slow down can be attributed to the altitude credit also needs to be given to Zamora for forcing a high tempo and going to the body. Here we're expecting to see Minowa fight smartly again, and with less problems from altitude she could well find her gas tank last better, especially given that Enriquez doesn't set a tempo like Zamora.
If Minowa wasn't coming in after such lengthy break we'd give her a decent shot, she has got the skills in her locker to give Enriquez issues. Sadly however the lengthy absence from the ring is a major issue, and we see that being a problem here for the challenger. That, combined with the effectiveness of Enriquez, and the Mexican crowd behind the champion doesn't bode well for Minowa.
We see the challenger having moments, she's too good not to, but we also see her coming up short, and losing a close but clear decision to the local favourite. We suspect Minowa will be in the lead early, but when Enriquez gets into the groove she'll start racking up the points and taking the decision.
Prediction - UD10 Enriquez
It's fair to say that April 2019 was a month that will go down in female boxing as a big one. We had a card in Japan, on the 14th, that was an all-female card and, of course, we had "the biggest women's boxing match in history", when Christina Hammer and Claressa Shields threw down on Showtime. We're also set to see Kasumi Saeki battle for a world title in just her 4th bout, on April 28th.
Saeki isn't the only notable fighter on the April 28th card, with former 3-time world champion Etsuko Tada (18-3-2, 5), a stablemate of Saeki's, takes on former Saeki opponent Kanyarat Yoohanngoh (5-2, 3), in a WBC Minimumweight world title eliminator. A win for the Japanese veteran sets her up with a chance to become a grandslam champion, whilst a win for Kanyarat sets her up for a huge year.
At 37 years old, and with her 38th birthday coming next month, Tada will know that time on her long career is running out. She debuted almost 11 years ago and has had a genuinely notable career. She would claim her first world title in her 5th bout, beating ChoRong Son for the WBA Minimumweight title and would twice fight to draws in unification bouts. The first of those was a draw with the then WBC champion Naomi Togashi before then fighting to a draw with the then "interim" WIBA champion Ria Rammarine. To 2013 they were the only marks on her record, which she notched notable wins over Ibeth Zamora Silva, Maria Salinas, Naoko Shibata and Yuko Kuroki.
Sadly a couple of split decision losses to Anabel Ortiz saw Tada losing the WBA title, though she would bounce back by winning the IBF title, which she lost in her first defense to Cai Zong Ju. She would later claim the WBO title in 2018, though vacated without making a defense to pursue her dream of a grandslam.
Although older and slower than she once was Tada is still an aggressive, tough, hard hitting fighter. In a small ring, or at least one that's smaller than she fought Cai Zong Ju in, she is a nightmare. The larger the ring the more she will struggle, but this bout isn't expected to be in a big ring.
The 20 year old Thai is a bit of an unknown, unless you are a hardcore fan of as female boxing in Asia. She made her professional debut at the ridiculously young age of 15, yes you did read that right 15, and took a break after her debut. Since then she's had mixed results, losing on the road, to Zhezhe Ni in China and to the prodigious Kasumi Saeki in Japan, but did score a huge win last time out, stopping Umi Ishikawa this past February. That win was, by far and away, the best of Kanyarat's career, and is a huge boost fert her coming into this bout.
We've seen the Thai look confused and lost, showing no answers to Saeki's speed and skills last July, but with 3 wins in a row she does have confidence. She's proven that she's aggressive, a physical fighter and doesn't mind bending the rules, something she did regularly against Ishikawa. Sadly for her Tada has sene it all before and there will have to be more than a few dirty tricks to pick up a win here.
We suspect Kanyarat will become a fixture on the regional scene in the years to come, however we can't see her having the tools or experience to deal with Tada. The Thai does have some momentum coming into this bout, but we expect to see that being destroyed early before Tada breaks her down and scores a mid-round stoppage.
Prediction - TKO4 Tada
This coming Saturday fight fans in Mexico will get the chance to see WBC female Light Flyweight champion Yesenia Gomez (14-5-3-1, 6) defending her title against Japanese challenger Erika Hanawa (10-3, 4). For Gomez this will be her first defense, following her title win last September, whilst Hanawa will be competing in her second world title fight, following a loss to Kayoko Ebata in a WBO female Minimumweight title bout back in May 2017.
Gomez won the belt last year, at the age of 22, by defeating veteran Esmeralda Moreno in what was the second bout between the two ladies who had fought to a draw the previous May. The win was Gomez's first victory in over 2 years, though she had actually gone 0-1-3-1 in her previous 5 bouts fighting two a draw not only with Moreno but also two draws with Jacky Calvo and a no contest with Lourdes Juarez.
Early in her career Gomez struggled to get her career going, losing 2 of her first 3, to go to and 4 of her first 10. Since that 6-4 start she has gone 8-1-3-1 and really developed into a solid fighter. She has learned to use what she has to build her career and gain her success. Notably that success is built on her speed, her jab, her movement and her work rate. She's a smart fighter, who boxes well off the back foot and although she lacks power she is accurate and lands clean shots. They aren't damaging shots, but they are typically clean and consistent.
The 28 year old Hanawa has been a fighter who typically fallen short in her biggest bouts, but did show what she can do last time out, when he stopped Jujeath Nagaowa to claim the OPBF female Minimumweight title. Going into that bout Hanawa had started that she was fighting for her career, and it showed in her performance and her emotion after Nagaowa retired in the corner after 4 rounds. For, arguably, the first time Hanawa put it all together and did what she needed to win a big one. Prior to this she had come up short in bouts for the OPBF, WBO Asia Pacific and WBO world titles. Those losses came to good fighters, with Kayoko Ebata in the WBO world title fight, Saemi Hanagata in the OPBF title fight and Shione Oagata in the WBO Asia Pacific title fight, but still came every time she stepped up in class.
Interestingly whilst Hanawa is known for losing big fights, she is actually 3-0 in fighters outside of Japan, and with this bout taking place in Mexico that may be a good sign. She may well believe the judges will be against her if it's close, and will instead have to set the pace, and fight with a high work rate. It's unclear if she can do that for 10 rounds, but that will surely be in her mind when the bell goes to begin the fight.
Whilst Gomez has struggled to get over the line in recent fights we see her taking the win here, with the title boosting her confidence and helping her to put on a complete performance. Hanawa won't travel to lose, in fact she'll be there hungrier than ever and full of confidence on the back of her win over Nagaowa, but we expect her to come up short and lose a clear, yet hard fought, decision here.
The Japanese scene has been full of ambitious former amateur standouts, especially in recent years with the likes of Naoya Inoue and Kosei Tanaka. Another ambitious fighter is former female amateur standout Chaoz Minowa (6-1, 5), who stated that she wanted to win world titles in a ridiculous 9 weight classes. That ambition was seen earlier this year when she faced Tenkai Tsunami for the WBO female Light Flyweight title, and despite coming up short few can doubt her desire to leave a mark on the sport.
We'll see Minowa get her second shot at a world title on November 17th when she challenges Mexican fighter Ibeth Zamora Silva (29-6, 12), the current WBC Female Flyweight champion. For Silva the bout will be her first defense of the title, that she won earlier this year, whilst Minowa will be getting he second shot to become a world champion.
The challenger was a top amateur, with notable international experience, who turned professional in 2016 with a fair bit of fanfare having inked a deal with Watanabe Gym. Her career started promisingly, and after just 3 fights she had claimed her first title, the OPBF female Flyweight title, and fought on foreign soil, stopping Chan Mi Lim in Korea. Sadly though there was flaws in what she was doing, and those flaws were exposed when she faced the tough and highly experienced Tsunami back in March. Tsunami basically let Minowa punch herself out, whilst tagging her with sharp, accurate shots and breaking her down.
In the ring Minowa is very much a fighter, not a boxer. She can box, and is well schooled due to her long amateur career, but is someone who seems to be taken over by emotion and looks to make every bout into a war. She sets off at a high tempo and looks to use her power, aggression and physicality to beat opponents down. Against lower level opponents that's fine, but against better fighters that's an issue for her, with those better fighters about to defend themselves better, counter better and pick holes in her leaky defense.
As mentioned earlier this will be Zamora's first defense, though she has long been a world class fighter. She really made a name for herself fighting at Light Flyweight, winning the WBC title in 2013 when she defeated Naoko Shibata in Tokyo. She would make 8 defenses of that title, beating the likes of Ava Knight, JEssica Chavez, Esmeralda Morema and Mari Ando before losing the title in early 2017, losing to the aforementioned Moreno. She then moved up in weight and beat Isabel Millan in a world title eliminator before beating Melissa McMorrow for the WBC female Flyweight title earlier this year.
Zamora, dubbed "Roca", is an aggressive and hard working fighter who comes forward, throws in combinations and backs up opponents. Despite being a busy fighter she is pretty solid, with a sharp jab and good, solid hooks, which she uses well on the inside. Notably she is a smaller fighter, but she has used her lack of stature well to get on the inside where she works best. She's not the crispest, but her work rate and intensity is great and her energy is fantastic.
Sadly Minowa's lack of proven world class stamina and energy, and the fact she's on the road for this bout, will not serve her well against Zamora, who is a really a little bundle of energy. Minowa will have moments but will come up short, likely making it over the finish line but looking exhausted and well beaten after 10 rounds. We would love to see Minowa fulfil her promise, but suspect she will come up short again here.
In July 2017 we saw Terumi Nuki (10-3, 7) travel to Mexico to challenge WBC female Bantamweight champion Mariana Juarez (49-9-4, 18), in what was Nuki's first world title bout and first bout outside of Japan. Nuki came up short that night, losing 98-92 on all 3 score cards, but showed enough to remain in the world title mix, getting a shot at the IBF Super Flyweight title just 7 months later, again losing a decision.
This coming Saturday Nuki returns to Mexico to have a rematch with Juarez, hoping the experienced of her two world title defeats will help her avenge her loss to Juarez and become a world champion at the third time of asking. Juarez however will be looking to prove she is still the better fighter, still the better boxer and at the age of 38 is still a sensational fighter.
Juarez, although past her best, is seeking her 5th defense of the title that she won in April 2017 and is currently enjoying a 6 fight winning run with victories over the likes of Irma Garcia, Alesia Graf and Gabriela Bouvier. They aren't the best wins of her career, as she holds wins over Tenkai Tsunami Arely Mucino and Shindo Go, but they are solid wins on the record of any female fighter. As a professional Juarez is one of the most distinguished and iconic female fighters of her generation and has been one of the faces of female boxing in Latin America for the better part of a decade.
In the ring Juarez is a clever boxer-mover. She doesn't have much power, with only 18 stoppages in 62 fights, but she's got a fantastic engine, great movement, good skills and knows how to control the ring and her opponents. She's not unstoppable, and has been stopped 3 times during her career, but she is tough, she knows how to survive when she needs to. The big question however is how much longer can she keep delivering. She's been a professional since 1998, been in more than 60 fights and over 450 rounds, and sooner or later that type of career will catch up with her.
At 29 years old and with less than 5 and a half years of professional experience under her belt and with just 60 rounds of professional fight experience Nuki is a total novice compared to Juarez. She is however a puncher with her last 5 wins all coming by stoppage, and someone who is building her experience the hard way, by fighting world class fighters on the road. Sadly though her best wins to date have been over the likes of Kai Johnson and Nongbua Lookpraiaree, hardly fighters to prepare someone for world title fights.
With Nuki's power and physicality she can be a nightmare at this level if fights stand and fight her fight. Sadly though she hasn't yet developed the skills to force her fight onto her opponents, and when they box and move she's left chasing shadows. If she's managed to learn how to cut the distance and trap opponents she can give Juarez real problems here, though that's a huge if.
We suspect that Juarez's legs might not be quite what they were a year ago, that could help Nuki get her in range and and unload. We do however feel like Juarez will have to have aged a lot to make this close and instead we suspect that whilst Nuki will have more success than she did in the first meeting, she will still come up short here.
On December 17th fight fans at the Kyuden Gym in Fukuoka get the chance to see a really intriguing female title fight, as two champions collide in what could be a passing of the torch bout or further proof of one fighter's legendary status in female boxing. The bout will see Yuko Kuroki (17-4-1, 8) defending her WBC female Minimumweight, for the 6th time, taking on the legendary Momo Koseki (23-2-1, 9), with Koseki looking to add a divisional world title to her collection.
The 26 year old won the title back in May of 2014 and her 3 year reign has seen her defeating the likes of Katia Gutierrez, Masae Akitaya, Nancy Franco and Mari Ando and really showing that she is a world class fighter. Although her record is less than perfect she has gone unbeaten for more than 4 years, and is 8-0-1 (3) since her last loss, which came when she was just 22. Kuroki has really matured in that time to become a good boxer-mover and she has shown her toughness, her ability and almost a new found confidence and self belief.
Despite being on an impressive run Kuroki perhaps lacks a real defining win. She has good wins, Franco and Gutierrez are very good wins in fact, but there is no monster win on her record and nothing that really has gone and told the division “I am the queen”, a win over Koseki would do that, and would really allow Kuroki to make a statement.
Whilst Kuroki is looking for a defining win the same can't be said of Koseki who has had an incredible career. The 35 year old from Tokyo is riding a 24 fight unbeaten run which has seen her record 17 world title defense, unify the WBC and WBA title and holds wins over almost every notable fighter in the division, such as Ayaka Miyao, Nao Ikeyama and Saemi Hanagata. She has been a staple of the 102lb division almost a decade and both of her losses came in very close bouts in Thailand.
In the ring Koseki is a tough as old boots fighter with a brawling action style. She comes to fight and presses the bout, with a combination of rough tactics, under-rated boxing skills, great energy and fantastic use of being big and strong. Although she's moving up in weight here, by 3lbs, she is a very big Atomweight and she has looked bigger than former Light Flyweight champion Naoya Shibata, in fact she looks like she would be very competitive fighting at Flyweight, if not Super Flyweight.
To date Kuroki has had things mostly her own way, at least in the last few years. Here however she's in with a fighter who will be coming with a point to prove, and a statement to make, a fighter given a chance to become a 2 weight champion. Kuroki will be the home fighter, the fighter who is naturally bigger and the fighter who will be defending her title, she will however be up against an elite level fighter, and we suspect Koseki's aggression and world class energy and toughness will simply be too much for the champion. Koruoki will have moments will her skills, but will be out worked, and out pointed.
This coming weekend we get the chance to see female boxing come to the fore for Asian fight fans as Japan's Terumi Nuki (9-1, 6) takes on legendary Mexican Mariana Juarez (45-9-4, 17), in a bout for Jaurez's WBC female Bantamweight title. For Nuki it's the biggest bout of her career, and a chance to define her career, whilst Juarez looks to further enhance her legacy as one of the modern greats of female boxing.
Although it can be hard to call any female fighter a legend the phrase certainly does apply to Juarez, who draws a huge audience and a lot of attention in Mexico and has done for years. She has managed to cross over, beyond boxing, thanks in part to her sexy looks, which has seen her feature in Playboy, but has also continued to have huge success in the ring.
Debuting back in 1998, as an 18 year old, Juarez struggled early in her career losing 2 of her first 3. In fact after 22 bouts she was still struggling to really make a name for herself, with a 14-5-3 (8) record. From then however she has gone 31-4-1 defining herself as a boxing legend in Mexico. Not only are the numbers impressive but so to are the opponents with Juarez notching up wins against Esmeralda Moreno, Simona Galassi, Gabriela Bouvier, Arely Mucino, Shindo, Tenkai Tsunami and Irma Garcia whilst claiming world titles at Flyweight and Bantamweight.
At her best Juarez is a talented boxer who can box brawl, she has a great engine and can do pretty much everything other than really bang. At 37 however and with a 5-2-1 record in her last 8 there is signs that she is coming to the end of her long career and that she could get old over-night, as we recently saw with Manny Pacquiao.
The 28 year old Nuki is a real boxing baby with just 37 rounds since making her debut just over 4 years ago. To date she has fought just two title bouts, both at Oriental level, and has gone 1-1 (1) in those bouts. To date her best win has been at Oriental level, with that being a 3rd round stoppage over Thai foe Nongbua Lookpraiaree, and she has never scored a win of note at Bantamweight.
Although a fighter with plenty of promise this is a massive step up for Nuki, who has never shown the ability to really impress at world level. There is potential for her to develop into a world class fighter, but she has never shown enough of that potential to think that she is ready for a world title bout, and in fact she would probably have been best served with a few Oriental title defenses first. She hasn't had to cope with a true all-rounder like Juarez, and she has never been beyond 8 rounds, giving her a lot of firsts here.
Juarez could get old, as mentioned above, but the reality is that she still looks fresh enough and hungry enough in recent bouts to easily over-come someone like Nuki, who is simply stepping up too much too fast. We think Nuki will have moments, and will be able to survive the 10 rounds, but will come up short against the Mexican fighting icon.
In May 2014 Japanese youngster Yuko Kuroki (16-4-1, 8) made good on her early career promise by defeating Mari Ando (13-9, 6) to claim the WBC female Minimumweight title. That win put Kuroki on the proverbial map an opened doors for her to grow into a genuinely notable fighter. Since that title win she has made the most of her opportunity and scored notable wins over Katia Gutierrez, Masae Akitaya and Nancy Franco, whilst recording 4 defenses of the title whilst Ando has struggled.
This coming Sunday the two women will face off again with Kuroki looking to record her 5th defense of the title and Ando looking to revive a career that is now struggling, in fact Ando has gone 2-2 since the first bout and is now very much in last chance saloon.
Kuroki really has gone from strength to strength since winning the title. She was always a fighter with a lot of potential, as early career performances against the likes of Naoko Shibata, Mika Oda and Etsuko Tada showed, but it wasn't until she became the champion that we really got the chance to see how good she was. Since becoming the champion she really has looked like a truly brilliant fighter with under-rated skills, great work rate, hurtful power and the sort of building confidence that could make her a real nightmare against other world class fighters in the years to come.
Whilst Kuroki isn't one of the stars of female boxing, and she's not one of the truly elite among the Japanese female fighters, like Momo Koseki or Naoko Fujioka, she is a top class fighter who is showing all the signs of becoming a top fighter for the years to come.
With Ando the best looks to be behind her. The 29 year old struggled to get going, losing her first 2 bouts, before defeating Amara Kokietgym in September 2011 to claim the WBA Atomweight title and became a world champion. Her reign however was a short one, losing the belt in her second defense to Ayaka Miyao. Despite losing the WBA title to Miyao we did see Ando continue to compete at the world level, losing in title challengers against both Miyao and Su Yun Hong, before claiming the WBC female Minimumweight title with a win against Jasseth Noriega in 2013, lsoing that title in her first defense to Kuroki.
Since losing the title to Kuroki we've seen Ando come up short against Zai ong Ju and Ibeth Zamora Silva, with Silva stopping Ando in the 6th round of a horribly one-sided contest. That loss to Silva seemed to suggest that the hard career of Ando was taking it's toll, though may well have said more about how good Silva is, with many regarding her as one of the truly elite female fighters.
With Kuroki claiming a win in the first fight, and improving whilst Ando has seemingly regressed, the winner her will almost certainly be Kuroki again. The question however will be whether the champion scores a stoppage or another decision. We think Kuroki will go on to stop Ando here, with Ando likely to retire afterwards.
Here we preview the key female title bouts involving an Asian fighter.