On December 13th we'll see WBO female Super Flyweight champion Miyo Yoshida (14-1) return to the ring in the hunt of her second defense, as she takes on 37 year old challenger Tomoko Okuda (6-2-2, 1), who will be getting her first world title bout.
For Yoshida the bout will see her look to continue an excellent run of form, which has included 10 straight wins already and victories at Japanese, OPBF and world level. As for Okuda this bout will see her look to step up from Japanese and OPBF title level into world level, as she pursues the most meaningful win of her career.
Yoshida, who has been celebrated in Japan for being a successful single mother, turned professional way back in 2014. She made her debut and was then out of the ring for almost 2 years before returning in 2016 and attempted to make up for lost time. In 2016 she fought 5 times, going 4-1, and fighting in her first 6 rounds. The following year she avenged her loss, out-pointing Yuki Koseki in their second bout, before advancing to her first title fight, beating Tomomi Takano in an upset win in October 2017 for the Japanese female Bantamweight title. She quickly unified that title with the OPBF title, beating Gretel de Paz, and went on to defend both of those belts once before vacating them in 2019 to pursue a world title fight.
Yoshida's world title shot came in June 2019, when she dropped down in weight to Super Flyweight. Despite coming down in weight she impressed in taking a very wide and clear decision over Casey Morton to become the WBO female Super Flyweight champion, easily out boxing Morton. She returned to the ring 6 months later and out pointed Li Ping Shi in her first defense, as she continued to build her reputation. Since then she has moved gyms and linked up with the very well established Misako Gym with should be adding a new level of professionalism to her training.
When it comes to Okuda we're talking about a woman who debuted in 2015 and has fought every year since. Her debuted ended in disappointment, as she was stopped by Wakako Fujiwara, before reeling off a 5 fight unbeaten run, against fellow novices and limited fighters. The most notable result in that run was a draw, in late 2017, with Tomo Hayashi. She then kicked off 2018 by suffering her second loss, losing a split decision to Yoshie Wakasa. Following her second loss it would have been easy to to suggest Okuda's career was going no where, but since then she has gone unbeaten and actually gone on to claim the OPBF and Japanese female Bantamweight titles, thanks to a technical decision win over Kanako Taniyama earlier this year.
Despite winning the Japanese and OPBF titles Okuda only really has a single win of note on her record, and that's the one over Taniyama from this past January. She has yet to fight over 10 rounds, she is stepping up massively and she has never actually made the Super Flyweight limit in her career, the closest she's been was 115¾lbs 5 years ago. With those things in mind there are some real question marks over her head coming into this bout.
In the ring Yoshida's style is very much based around her straight punches, her movement, and her physical tools. She isn't the strongest fighter, or the most heavy handed fighter out there, but she is accurate, throws very good straight punches, doesn't waste a lot of energy and uses smart upper body movement and footwork to control range. Although she's got a good jab, she also knows how to work on the inside, grind opponents, and do so without taking much return fire. Her one big issue is her lack of power, though hopefully training at the Misako gym will improve that area of her boxing. She's a genuinely smart boxer, and it's clear she has an incredible will to win, inspired by her daughter.
In the ring Okuda is a wild fighter. She comes forward in a clumsy fashion, and looks to make fights messy. She's powerful, or rather she's physically strong, but she is very clumsy and awkward and happy to hold when she needs to. Like many lower quality female fighters her tactics are pretty basic and at 37 she is likely past her physical best. She's rough and tough, but really not all that skilled or talented. Saying that however at the age of 37, and with home advantage, she might be spurred for a career defining performance here, knowing she likely won't get another chance like this.
We know that a fighter being given what they believe could be their last chance can fill them with the hunger to shine and put everything into a performance. Even with that in mind it's hard to see Okuda winning. We suspect Okuda is the bigger puncher, and maybe even the physically stronger fighter, but the skills, speed, movement, accuracy, work rate, and ability all favour Yoshida. We suspect that Okuda will be hungry to shine, but won't be able to match the skills or tempo of Yoshida, who will go on to win round after round, and take a clear decision.
Yoshida can make this easy if she gets behind her jab, but even fighting the wrong fight we suspect she'll just have too much of everything for Okuda and will take a wide decision no matter what tactics she employs.
Prediction - Yoshida UD10
Way back on January 28th we saw a thrilling female world title bout between Ayaka Miyao (23-8-2, 6) and Etsuko Tada (19-3-3, 6), which resulted in a split decision draw, leaving the WBO female Minimumweight title vacant. The bout wasn't the biggest or the most amazing, but it was compelling and thoroughly engaging through out. And given the inconclusive result there was, clearly, some desire from both fighters to go again.
Originally it seemed seem we weren't going to see them re-run it, with Miyao signing for a bout in Vietnam. Sadly that bout fell through to the on-going global situation leaving the door open for Miyao and Tada to face off again, which they will on December 3rd at Korakuen Hall. Like their first bout, more than 10 months ago, this will also be for the vacant WBO female Minimumweight title.
In their first bout it was Miyao who seemed to sharper fighter early on. She moved well, landing eye catching single shots and got in and out well. She impressed with her speed, her timing and her movement, and certainly didn't look like a fighter who was 36 years old. In the middle rounds her single shots become bursts and combinations and she was certainly the one with the higher work rate. Sadly for her however she was also the one with the out the physicality and power really needed to make a dent, and Tada's shots all looked nastier, particularly early on when neither fighter was really throwing much in terms of combinations. Tada was being out landed through the bout, but the quality and sting on Tada's shots certainly looked more impactful than anything Miyao was landing.
In the final rounds Tada looked old, worn and like a woman who was edging towards retirement and at the time we did say a rematch would be interesting.
Given their first bout we can't help but feel Miyao should be seen as the favourite. She seemed to do enough, at least for us, to deserve a win in their first bout. A somewhat slow start may have cost her, but when she went through the gears and began to step it up she seemed like the much fresher, younger and hungrier fighter.
The new 37 year old Miyao has been a professional since 2004, and began making her name as pupil of Hideyuki Ohashi, who really did help her build her career, and lead her to winning the WBA Atomweight title. Following a lot of success at the Ohashi Gym she then joined the Watanabe Gym and has had mixed success with them, whilst continuing to prove she is a world class fighter. In 2016 she suffered a nasty injury against Nao Ikeyama, that seemed likely to end her career. Since then however she has rebuilt, avenged that loss, suffered a narrow defeat to Monserrat Alarcon and fought to a draw with Tada.
Miyao has always been a super quick, sharp, boxer-mover. She rarely sits on shots but does land a lot and uses the ring well. Even in her mid-30's she's continued to be a bundle of energy.
Tada on the other hand is heading towards her 40th birthday, which comes next May, and she was a former amateur standout before turning professional in 2008. She was one of the trend setters for female boxing in the 00's, hunting unification bouts in 2009 and 2010. She was aggressive, exciting, and fun to watch. She was technically solid, physically imposing and a real handful. Sadly though as she's aged she has lost some tenacity and hunger. In 2013 and 2014 she suffered losses to Anabel Ortiz, then she struggled to get notable bouts, with opponents not fancying bouts with her. She bounced back well in the end but then lost to Cai Zong Ju in 2017 and looked like a faded force during that bout. Then she rebuilt again with wins against Naoko Shibata and Kayoko Ebata.
In the ring Tada can be out-worked, she can be out sped, and she can be out-boxed. At range she is limited, slow and struggles to cut range now a days. On the inside however she's strong, tough, and a physical force, pushing opponents, tying them up, and battling hard up close.
In their primes we would give Tada the advantage, but with both fighters on the slide and the nature of their first bout, we have to feel that Miyao has more left in the tank, and will use what she learned in their first bout to take the win here.
We see Miyao again boxing at range early on, but getting combinations off as early as round 2, taking the initiative, and trying to wear down Tada as the bout goes on. We don't see her breaking down the older woman in a way to force a stoppage, but we do see Miyao out working Tada to the point where the judges won't see this as being particularly close.
Prediction - UD10 Miyao
On September 26th at we'll get the first world title fight in Japan since the restart of boxing in the country, with the bout taking place in Kobe. Sadly it's not a huge bout, but it is an interesting one, as WBO Atomweight champion Mika Iwakawa (9-5-1, 3) makes her first defense, around 26 months after first winning the title back in July 2018. In the opposite corner to the world champion will be former Japanese national champion Nanae Suzuki (10-3-1, 1). On paper this doesn't look amazing, but should still be a pretty interesting bout for the Atomweight division, and could shake things up, or take us a step towards a potential unification.
The 37 year old Iwakawa made her debut in 2011, though found her career on the rocks early on following an injury to her eye, and a bad run of form. At the end of 2013 it seemed her career was done. She was 3-3-1 (1), the wrong side of 30 and had lost gone win less in 2013, losing Mako Yamada and Nao Ikeyama and drawing with Kumiko Seeser Ikehara, all of whom went on to win world titles. She returned in 2015 and despite losing on her return she began to build some moment and moved her record to 6-5 (2), claimed the OPBF title and got her first world title fight. She lost in that world title fight, to Yunoka Furukawa, but less than 2 years later she beat Nao Ikeyama to claim the WBO Atomweight title.
Sadly since winning the title in July 2018 Iwakawa has taken a leaf out of Gary Russell Jr's playbook, fighting just once in 2019, in what was a none title fight against Momoko Kanda.
Sadly there isn't a lot of footage of Iwakawa out there, but what there is shows a tough, aggressive fight. She likes to let hooks go, but she has some awful footwork, squaring up a lot and looking to have a fire fight. Against Furukawa that had some real success, but in the end the youth and energy of Furukawa was the difference maker at times.
Aged 28 Suzuki is the much younger fighter and actually only turned professional in 2016. Like Iwakawa she struggled early on, and lost 2 of her first 3, but since than has gone 9-1-1, with her only loss coming to the excellent Eri Matsuda. Her wins haven't been at a mega high level, but they have included victories over Chie Higano, Sana Hazuki and Kanyarat Yoohanngoh, and she has claimed the Japanese national title.
Although Suzuki is an aggressive fighter as well, her style is very different to that of Iwakawa. Instead of squaring up and firing hooks, Suzuki boxes aggressively. She does still square up sometimes, but throws far more straight shows, and looks to wear opponents down with volume, rather than huge power swings. She takes risks, with 2 handed assaults being a common thing, but she also moves around the ring well and seems like she has a lot of energy to burn.
Although Iwakawa is the champion, and before the bout was talking about seeking unification bouts, this is actually a bout that we see her struggling with. She may have the edge in terms of physical strength but in reality the speed, stamina, work rate and footwork of Suzuki will prove to be the difference over the 10 rounds.
We see Iwakawa having moments early on, but being out pointed at the end by Suzuki's more sustained and busy aggression.
For fans wanting to watch this one, it will be streamed live on BOXING REAL.
Prediction - UD10 Suzuki
The first world title bout to take place in Japan this year is a female one between two former world champions, who can't afford another loss at this stage of their career, if they are to remain relevant as top contenders. Both are heading towards and neither is in their prime, as injuries and age catch up with them. Despite that we are expecting a genuine fantastic fight as Etsuko Tada (19-3-2, 6) and Ayaka Miyao (23-8-1, 6) meet for the WBO female Minimumweight title.
Of the two it's Tada who is the older fighter. The Shinsei promoted 38 year old is a former WBA, IBF and WBO female Minimumweight champion who has fought at world level for a decade or so. She won her first world title in 2009, following an excellent amateur career, and has faced a genuine who's who of female boxing in the lower weights. She took her first title from ChoRong Son and went on to defend it against the likes of Ibeth Zamora Silva, Maria Salinas, Naoko Shibata and Yuko Kuroki before being dethroned by Anabel Ortiz. She would claim the IBF title 2 years later, beating Kareli Lopez, before losing in her first defense to Cai Zong Ju, then claim the WBO title in 2018 beating Kayoko Ebata.
In her prime Tada was fast, aggressive, a solid puncher, highly skilled, tough and a nightmare for anyone. As she's aged he speed has slowed, her combinations don't flow as they once did and she struggles to apply the same pressure she did when she was younger. She's still an excellent fighter, but often needs the right sort of opponent to shine against. Against a mover she struggles, and she's much better against a fighter who stands their ground. Despite that can chase, just not in the way she once could.
At 36 years old Miyao is no youngster herself, and she's no novice either, having made her professional debut in 2004, before the JBC even recognised female boxing. Her early career was tough, and she was 4-4-1 after her first 9 bouts. Since then however she has gone 19-4 and become a major figure in the Atomweight division, where she is a former WBA and WBA interim champion, who also fought in a unification bout with the then WBC champion Momo Koseki. During her long career she has beaten the likes of Mari Ando, Masae Akitaya, Gretchen Abaniel, and Nao Ikeyama.
At her best Miyao was a lighting quick fighter who could fire off lightning quick shots, and move around the ring with very quick footwork. She's been slowing down in recent years, but is still quick, skilled and hard to pressure. Notably she is moving up from Atomweight, 102lbs, to Minimumweight, 105lbs. It's going to be interesting to see how she copes with the extra weight, and the extra weight of her opponent. One other thing to note is that Miyao has previously suffered a nasty knee injury. She has fought twice since then, but it does leave some question marks about her body.
Here we expect to see Tada pressing, coming forward and Miyao boxing and moving on the back foot, using her feet to try and stay away from Tada's pressure. From there it really depends on who controls the distance as to who wins. We suspect that Miyao will have the early success with her foot work, but Tada will come on strong and begin to take control in the second half. This will not make it easy to score, but will make it very, very competitive, and very close.
Prediction - Draw (Split)
The final female world title bout of the decade will see Miyo Yoshida (13-1) defending her WBO female Super Flyweight world title as she takes on Chinese youngster Li Ping Shi (5-2, 2), as part of a super stacked card at the Ota City Gymnasium in Tokyo. For Yoshida this will be her first defense, after winning the title in June, whilst the 21 year old Shi will be getting her first crack at a world title, and look toe extend her current 3 fight winning run.
The 31 year old Yoshida has made a name for herself over the last couple of years, with her rise from relative obscurity to Japanese, then OPBF and now world champion, all in the space of just over 2 years. She has done so as a single mother, which the Japanese press love to remind us, and has really shown she much improvement from her early days as a boxer. She has stepped up the levels and improved every step of the way, avenging her sole defeat along the way and beating the likes of Tomomi Takano, Yoshie Wakasa and, most recently, Casey Morton.
Although completely devoid of power Yoshida is a solid boxer-mover. She likes to establish range, using her speed and movement to get in and out and ties up well on the inside. Although not a powerful puncher she is surprisingly strong in the clinch, and has pushed around the likes of Wakasa with no issue. What she does really well is time her opponents, and although he shots don't have much weight behind them they do look damaging due to how well she lands her counter shots.
Whilst Yoshida has proven her self at every level whilst climbing through the ranks the same cannot be said of Shi, who is a relative unknown, even in Asian boxing circles. She has been selected as an easy first defense, though with some momentum behind her, including a good win over Yuko Henzan last time out, the challenger will not be there to make up the numbers, and will be going in with some genuine self belief. She has had 3 wins coming into this and despite her youth she does look like a solid, confident and aggressive fighter. Like Yoshida she lacks power, but she comes to fight, and is very much the woman who is going to be pressing the action with her pressure.
Whilst there is plenty of footage of Yoshida out there, including quite a lot on Boxing Raise, the same cannot be said of Shi, though we did manage to get a copy of her 2018 bout against Hyun Hee Gil to get something of a read on her. That footage suggests that she could be a very interesting test for Yoshida, and not the gimme defense that her record suggests. She managed to regularly rush Gil, making the Korean incredibly uncomfortable through out. It wasn't a consistent rush, but it was a regular tactic that left Gil off balance and unable to really respond. A tactic that could unsettle the timing and counters of Yoshida.
We suspect that Yoshida will have to work incredibly hard to take home the win here, though we do expect her to do enough to squeak the decision. Shi will come to win, she will rush, attack and be happy to take one to land one. She's not a big puncher, but the challenger has the aggressiveness to make up for it, and her hooks are thrown with bad intent. Yoshida might be the better boxer, but she will have to take some big shots en route to a win here, and may even be hurt early on by the huge over hard rights that Shi unleashes.
Prediction - Yoshida UD10
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
June 19th is set to be a hectic day for fight fans thanks to a big show in Chiba. One of the many bouts on that card will see a new WBO female Super Flyweight champion being crowned, as Miyo Yoshida (12-1) and Casey Morton (8-1-3, 1) battle for the currently vacant title. For both fighters this will be their first world title bout, and potentially their only shot at world gold, given that both are the wrong side of 30.
Yoshida has been a revelation over the last 2 years or so. She debuted in 2014, in a 4 round bout, and struggled past Ayaka Sato and then took a significant break from the ring before returning to struggle past Yuko Henzan. Yoshida would win her first 4 bouts, all close decisions, before her luck ran out and she was beaten by Yuki Koseki in September 2016. Since the loss however she has gone 7-0 and shown massive improvements. Her 7-0 run has seen her avenge her loss to Koseki as well as claim the Japanese female Bantamweight title, with a win over Tomomi Takano, and later unify the title with the OPBF female Bantamweight title, which she won in 2018 with a technical decision over Gretel de Paz.
In the ring Yoshida is a good boxer-mover. She lacks power but has shown an ability to fight at a good pace, grit her teeth when he needs to and dig deep to get the win. He victory over Takano was deemed a big upset and since then her confidence has grown and grown. Sadly whilst her confidence has gotten better her competition really hasn't improved, though a win in March against Yoshie Wakasa was among her best wins to date.
At the age of 31 Yoshida is on the wrong end of 30, however Morton is the older fighter, at 35, and is also the fighter with the less impressive form coming in to this bout. The "Lady Hawaiian Punch" also debuted in 2014 and has fought consistently since then, with multiple bouts a year. She has fought not in the US and Mexico but has also been on an Asia tour, of sorts, in recent years with her last 5 bouts being spread between the Philippines and China. We mentioned her form a moment a go and that is, in part at least, due to her 2018 upset loss to Jutamas Jitpong in China, in a bout where Morton was made to look second rate to the Thai. It's also worth noting that over her last 8 she is 5-1-2, with draws against the then debuting Karla Gonzalez and the then 1-2 Samantha Salazar.
To date Morton's best win, at least on paper, is a shut out in the Philippines against Kanchana Tungthaisong, who was a shadow of the fighter she had once been and a narrow win over Japanese female Minimumweight champion Chie Higano. Both several classes below Yoshida, both technically and physically.
Morton will know this may well be her first and only chance at a world title, but she will be up against a naturally bigger fighter who is full of confidence and we suspect that size and belief will be the difference, leading to a clear decision win for Yoshida.
Prediction UD10 Yoshida
On April 28th we'll see Japan's Kasumi Saeki (3-0, 2) look to announce herself on the world stage, as she takes on once beaten Mexican Elizabeth Lopez (6-1-4, 1) in a bout for the WBO female Minimumweight title, a title vacated by stablemate Etsuko Tada. For Saeki this is a chance to win a world title in just her 4th bout, whilst also looking to prove she is more than just a talented prospect. For Lopez the bout will be her first outside of Latin America, and also her first for a major title.
The 22 year old Saeki is a novice professional. She only turned professional in 2018, making her debut on May 27th 2018, though had had a solid amateur background with a 35-9 record including bouts on both the national and international stage. That amateur background showed on her debut as she showed flashes of genius in a 6 round decision win over Floryvic Montero on debut. Following up her debut Saeki would score a stoppage win over Kanyarat Yoohanngoh, who would subsequently win the OPBF silver female title, and then stop Wassana Kamdee, to become the WBO Asia Pacific champion.
Saeki is a real natural talent. She is one of the purest female boxers out there, with exceptional skills, lightning speed, alarming accuracy and amazing ring IQ. even this early in her career she looks to be a special fighter, not just a special prospect. She looks to have all the tools to go a very long way, has already shown she can do 6 rounds. Given the fact she's in the Shinsei gym will have really helped her develop her skills and it's clear that she will have been working alongside Etsuko Tada to prepare for this bout.
With 11 bouts to her name the 4'9" Lopez has one of the sports oddest looking records, with 4 draws from her 11 contests. The 26 year old, who made her debut in March 2015, would strangely begin her career 2-1-3, with her loss coming to the under-rated Yesenia Gomez who has since become the WBC female Light Flyweight champion. As well as those 3 early draws Lopez actually drew last time out, fighting to a 6 round draw with Kumora Yang Badillo.
Footage of Lopez is hard to find, though what is available makes her look quite slow and clumsy. She's wild and rough around the edges, but does seem tough and marches forward. She has an aggressive style, but it is a very agricultural style and she does seem wild and reckless at times. Despite being aggressive she has only scored 1 stoppage win in 11 bouts, showing a lack of power and it seems like that will cause her bouts to go longer than she would like.
From the footage available of both it seems hard to see anything but a win for Saeki. She has too much skill, too much speed and too much polish for someone as sloppy as Lopez. Lopez will come to fight, but we expect to see her wide shots beign countered time and time again as Saeki goes on to take a wide, and clear decision. The only worry about Saeki is whether her lack of professional experience will be exposed, though with her training at the Shinsei gym we don't imagine that will actually be a problem here.
December 1st is set to be a hectic day for fight fans in Japan with 7 different title bouts taking place across 3 shows and 2 venues. Those 7 title bouts include a female world title bout, as WBO female Minimumweight champion Kayoko Ebata (12-7, 6) defends her title against former WBA champion Etsuko Tada (17-3-2, 5) at the EDION Arena Osaka. The bout pits two real veterans against each other in what could out to be a real thriller for fans at the venue.
The champion, who is 42, is one of the oldest female fighters in Japan and is also a fighter with one of the most remarkable careers. Ebata debuted at the advanced age of 31 and would fight for a world title in her second professional bout, losing a razor thin decision in Camboia against Samson Tor Buamas for the WBC female Light Flyweight title. Despite the loss it was clear she was an excellent fighter, and she was good enough to get 3 more title fights in his following 5 bouts, though sadly lost all 3 of those bouts, including a WBA female Super Flyweight title bout to Tenkai Tsunami. Despite being a fantastic fight she found herself quickly falling to 3-4 (2). She then managed to rack up wins at the lower level, but came up short in 3 world title fights, losing to Nancy Franco in 2013 and Kumiko Seeser Ikehara in 2015 and 2016. With a record of 0-5 in world title fights she was essentially given one final chance in 2017, against Erika Hanawa for the vacant WBO female Minimumweight title, and she took that opportunity by defeating the then 7-0 Hanawa for the belt. A belt she has defended once, narrowly, since winning. It's fair to say that if Ebata loses the belt her career is likely over, though she has accomplished a dream of being a world champion.
At 37 years old the challenger also can't really afford a loss, though Tada has had a distinguished career. She would win the WBA female Minimumweight title in her 5th bout, defeating ChoRong Son for the belt in 2009. She would make 9 defenses of the title before losing it to Anabel Ortiz in 2013. Prior to losing the belt she had twice fought in unification bouts, drawing both, and had notched up notable wins over the likes of IBeth Zamora Silva, Maria Salinas, Naoko Shibata and Yuko Kuroki. Following he loss to Ortiz we saw Tada become a 2-time champion, as she beat Kareli Lopez for the IBF title in 2015, though lose in her first defense in 2017 to Cai Zong Ju. Her only bout since that loss was a WBO Asia Pacific title win against Naoko Shibata, in November 2017. Sadly in her most recent bouts she has lacked the tenacity, hunger and fire that she once had. She's still a hungry fighter, but one that fights like a tamer version of her once fearsome self.
At their best these two were great fighters, but now they are shadows of their former selves. Neither is bad by any stretch, but they aren't what they once were. Here we favour the challenger. She's younger, looked better last time out and despite not fighting in over a year is likely to be the sharper fighter. Ebata struggled to retain her title in her first defense, and we can't see her getting much luck against Tada, especially given that Tada is the fighter managed by the promoter of the show.
We suspect Tada will take the decision, and we expect a real action bout. It's just a shame these two didn't fight earlier in their career's.
The Atomweight division, 102lbs, is the lowest weight in professional boxing and is a weight unique to female boxing. It's not had the greatest of reputations, with the lack of depth being a major issues, but it has given us some notable fighters, like the great Momo Koseki and the often fun to watch Ayaka Miyao. It's also responsible for Japan's oldest ever champion, current WBO Atomweight champion Nao Ikeyama (18-3-3, 5) who holds her title at the age of 48. In fact not only is Ikeyama an old champion but she was 44 when she actually won the belt.
This coming Sunday Ikeyama looks to stretch her reign to 7 defenses and make sure she continues to be recognised as a world champion beyond her 49th birthday. Trying to prevent her form that is former foe Mika Iwakawa (7-5-1, 3), herself a 35 year old fighting in her second world title shot.
These two women fought first back in 2013, when they clashed in a 6 rounder. That bout saw Ikeyama end a 3 year break from the ring to face off with Iwakawa, and with the win Ikeyama moved onto a world title bout for the then newly created WBO Atomweight title, defeating Jessebelle Pagaduan for the title. Sadly for Iwakawa the loss, by majority decision, seem to cause her career to stall, with Iwakawa spending well over a year away from the ring. Since returning Iwakawa had since gone 4-2 and despite claiming the OPBF female Light Flyweight title has never really managed to generate much career moment.
Despite being almost 50 Ikeyama is well known for her incredible stamina. She has gone 10 rounds in 6 of her last 7 bouts and has done so at a fantastic tempo. Not only that but she's been able to raise the tempo in the second half of fights when she's had to, against much younger fighters. As a champion she has defended the title against some weak challengers, like Norj Guro for example, but also twice against Saemi Hanagata and once against the aforementioned Miyao. She's not a puncher, but she's such an energetic fighter that few will hang with her, especially in the later rounds.
As for Iwakawa her only previous world title bout was arguably her best performance, a losing effort to the heavy handed Yunoka Furukawa in December 2016. Like Ikeyama it's fair to saw that Iwakawa is also a fighter who relies on her work rate and stamina as opposed to her power or defensive work. Given that she likes to let her hands go we're expecting he to go toe-to-toe with Ikeyama in what should make for an all action bout.
This bout will end up being a back and forth slugfest. With neither fighter having much in terms of power we can't see an early finish, but we can see a potential female fight of the year contender with intense action, getting better round by round. We do however favour the veteran to come out on top, with her added experience, especially over the 10 round distance. It'll be frantic and close, but we suspect Ikeyama will be the winner and extend her title reign a little longer.
Here we preview the key female title bouts involving an Asian fighter.