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.
On paper Japan's Mari Ando (12-8, 5) has the record of a journey woman but the reality is that she's a bona-fide world level contender who has a “win some-lose some” record at the top level. In fact coming into this weekend she is 3-4 in world title bouts, a 2-weight world champion and a fighter who has been really unlucky to actually have a 12-8 record.
This weekend Ando attempts to become a 3-weight champion as she travels to Mexico to battle Ibeth Zamora Silva (24-5, 9), the current WBC female Light Flyweight champion and one of the best female fighters on the planet.
Ando is a true warrior. She has limitations but the 28 year old is a real battler who has regularly made up for her limitations with a high work rate, insane toughness and incredible will to win. That will to win has her over-come the likes of Amara Kokietgym, Maria del Refugio Jimenez Cruz and Jasseth Noriega whilst managing push fighters like Ayaka Miyao, Yuko Kuroki, Su Yun Hong and Cai Zong Ju all the way.
A big question when it comes to Ando is how she will cope at Light Flyweight. Interestingly she is 2-0 (1) above 105lbs, though this match up is a huge step up in class from her other two at the weight.
When it comes to Zamora the 27 year old really is one of the sports best female fighters. Her record is incredible, not just the numbers but also the quality of her wins which have come against the likes of Esmeralda Moreno, twice, Jessica Chavez, twice, Anabel Ortiz, Naoko Shibata and Ava Knight. Not only has she been beating top names but she's also been a 3 year reign as a world champion and has already recorded 7 defenses of her title.
In the ring Zamora can almost everything, in fact the one thing she's missing is “power” though she more than makes up for that with her ability to box, or brawl. When it comes to being adaptable she certainly has plan A, B, C and D in her locker and with a large crowd behind her and her confidence sky high it's going to take a very special fighter to beat her.
Whilst we rate Ando as being much better than her record, we can't see over-coming Zamora, especially not in Mexico
When we talk about misleading records in boxing we, as a site, tend to look at the Filipino's who are thrown in hard early in their careers. The same too could be said about Mexicans who can often be thrown in deep whilst only teenagers and although some top Mexicans have a lot of losses they do tend to use those early career defeats as a building block towards their future.
One such Mexican is Ibeth Zamora Silva (19-5, 8) who has a record befitting of a fringe contender on paper though in reality she is one of the truly elite Light Flyweights and a very deserving WBC champion at 108lbs.
The reason Zamora Silva has such an mediocre looking record is because she has fought everyone of note in and around her division. Going through her 24 fight record resembles going through a who's who of who and features fighters such as Esmeralda Moreno, Jessica Chavez, Anabel Ortiz, Yesiva Yolanda Bopp, Etsuko Tada, Irma Garcia, Naoko Shibata and Ava Knight.
The fact Zamora Silva has lost just 5 times is a testament to her skill and not many fighters would have managed to beat half the fighters she has beaten as she's grown in to one of the best fighters in her division.
This coming Saturday sees Thailand's Hongfah Tor Buamas (17-5, 2) attempting to dethrone the Mexican great and claim one of the biggest upsets of the year.
Unfortunate for Hongfah she has the deck well and truly stacked against her. Firstly she will have to go over to Mexico for the fight, a country she has fought in once, losing to Ava Knight via 10th round TKO, secondly she lacks power and thirdly she really does have the track record of proven skills needed to defeat a fighter like Zamora Silver.
Aged 20 Hongfah is already a ring veteran with 22 fights to her name though unfortunately she has been unable to really score a notable victory. She has mixed in good company fighting not just Ava Knight but also Kanittha Kokietgym though both have beaten Hongfah who has been shown to be shy of world level though she is very good as a domestic fighter.
Against a fighter like Zamora Silva you need to be genuine world class, strong, tough and with either lights out power or an amazing work rate. Whilst Hongfah is tough she lacks the skill, power and energy to stand any chance of a victory here sadly. We imagine she'll be game through out though never really capable of putting a dent in the very talented Mexican youngster.
(Photo courtesy of boxrec.com)
Here we preview the key female title bouts involving an Asian fighter.