This coming Saturday we see attention turns to Osaka for an interesting Shinsei promoted female only card, featuring three title bouts.
One of those title bouts will see veteran Yuko Henzan (8-11-4, 2) take on professional novice Aka Ringo (2-0, 1), with the two women battling for the vacant WBO Asia Pacific Female Bantamweight title.
Aged 27 years old Ringo is very much a professional boxing novice, having only debuted last year. Her opponents so far were both debutants, and she is taking a huge step up in class for this bout. Amazingly in total she has just 9 rounds of professional boxing experience to her name, a worry as she heads into this bout which is scheduled for 8 rounds it's self. Notably however she isn't a combat sports novice and has come from a Mixed Martial Arts background, and is very comfortable in the ring.
Footage of Ringo as a boxer isn't too widely available, though that shouldn't be a surprise given her short career in the sport, however it is possible to find her second professional bout in full on YouTube, and in that she looks very relaxed and comfortable in the ring. She's not the sharpest fighter, or the best defensively, but she looks tough, strong, powerful, and is willing to take one to land one when she needs to. She likes to apply intelligent pressure, backing opponents up and trying to our work them and out land them. She is open to counter shots, and her defense looks like it could be a major issue for her in the coming years, but it's clear she believes in her chin and her own power and physicality. We do question not just her defense, but her work rate, and although she applies pressure, she doesn't really let her hands go all that much, and that will be an issue when she begins to face solid competition.
As for Yuko Henzan she's a 34 year old veteran of the ring, with 23 professional bouts and 118 rounds to her name, in a career that dates back to 2010. Her career hasn't been littered with success, but she has turned things around since a very poor start to her career. She failed to win any of her first 4 bouts and was 1-5-2 in her first 8 bouts. She actually managed to go on a good enough run at one point to have a record that read 8-7-4 (2), though things have gone down hill since, with 4 straight losses. The biggest success of her career was a short run as the OPBF Bantamweight champion, she vacated the title rather than defending it.
Henzan is very much a battle tested warrior. She comes forward behind a tight high guard and looks to make boxing contests into up close fights. She's aggressive, fun to watch and incredibly flawed. Her issues are numerous. She's got slow feet, she's small at Bantamweight and Super Bantamweight, her shots don't have much snap on them, and she often falls short with her punches. Despite that she does have a style that could be a real issue for Ringo here, just based on her work rate. If she's willing to take one to land one, and presses to get into the reach of the more naturally skilled Ringo she could make this rough, tough and a bit ugly.
Over 8 rounds we expect to see Ringo doing enough. But certainly being made to answer some real questions, thanks to Henzan's pressure, toughness and willingness to come forward in bursts of activity. Ringo should be too big, too fluid and too strong to lose, but her inexperience will allow Henzan to have moments and maybe take a couple of rounds from the younger fighter.
Prediction - UD8 Ringo
Here we preview the key female title bouts involving an Asian fighter.