Back in December we saw the previously unheralded Tomoko Okuda (7-2-2, 1) announce herself as a world class fighter as she defeated Miyo Yoshida (14-2) and took the WBO female Super Flyweight with a technical decision over the well liked Yoshida. This coming Tuesday the women face off again with Okuda looking to repeat her career best win, and Yoshida looking to avenge her title loss and become a two time champion.
Going in to their first bout Yoshida was the big favourite. She had won 10 in a row, unified the Japanese and OPBF titles at Bantamweight titles and then moved down in weight to win the WBO title, a title she had defended once before facing Okuda. Okuda on the other hand went into the bout as a 37 year old who's most notable results were a win and a draw against former kick boxer Kanako Taniyama, with the win seeing her win the Japanese and OPBF Bantamweight titles. That win aside there was nothing of value on her record went she dropped 3lbs and challenged Yoshida, and then beat Yoshida.
The key for Okuda in the first bout was her aggression, strength and size. Although both fighters had made their mark at Bantamweight, winning domestic and regional honours, Yoshida was the naturally smaller fighter, and the much less powerful fighter. Coming in she had never scored a stoppage in 15 bouts and was very much a fighter who relied on landing shots at range, and out working opponents up close, rather than trying to hurt them. Okuda on the other hand was a strong fighter. She lacked power, but was a naturally bigger, stronger, fighter. Okuda dropped Yoshida in round 1 and really put her under pressure throughout, not caring too much about what the champion threw back. That was vital to Okuda taking home the win, and the title.
In this rematch we're expect to see more aggression from Yoshida. Her jab has long been one of her main weapons, but Okuda walked through it and the challenger this time around can't look to rely on her long punches. She instead needs to let her hands fly, break down and wear out the champion and look to make the most of being the smaller fighter. Don't fight at range, but get in and swarm Okuda.
As for Okuda she'll look to do what she did in the first fight. She'll pressure and press, and look to avoid being cut, as she was in the first bout. If she can avoid clashing heads with the shorter fighter, and avoid the cuts, we suspect she'll weather some storms, but end up taking a clear, wide decision win here after 10 rounds.
If the bouts ends early, like their first, it will be due to head clashes. Neither fighter is a puncher, neither has question marks about their chin, but head clashes are very possible again here. Sadly, as the slightly taller fighter, Okuda will end up taking the worse of those head clashes but even with that in mind we suspect her more physical style will again bee too much for Yoshida.
Prediction - UD10 Okuda.
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
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
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
This coming Saturday we'll get another female world title fight featuring a Japanese fighter, the third in just a few days. This time it's the turn of Tamao Ozawa (13-4, 5) who battles Raja Amasheh (20-1-1-1, 4) for the vacant WBO female Super Flyweight title, in Karlsruhe Germany.
For the 32 year old Japanese fighter this will be a second world title shot, following her 2017 bout against Su Yun Hong for the WBO female Light Flyweight title whilst Amasheh will be fighting for her first “big 4” world title, though is a former 2-weight WBF world champion, having claim the Flyweight and Super Flyweight titles.
Against Hong we saw Ozawa fight pretty well, but she was always just a step or two behind the talented Korean. That was arguably the second most notable bout of Ozawa's career, behind a 2016 bout with Mexican icon Mariana Juarez, who took a wide 10 round decision over the Japanese fighter. What those losses showed was that Ozawa has toughened up since her early career. In fact she was stopped twice in her first 8 bouts, an opening round TKO to the Tomoko Kawanishi and a 2nd round stoppage to Kai Johnson. Since then she has improved a loss, avenging the loss to Johnson and claiming the OPBF Super Flyweight title, as well as being competitive with Hong and going 10 rounds with Juarez.
Technically Ozawa is a pretty decent boxer but that's about as polite as you can be. She's slow, a little clumsy, her footwork isn't too sharp and defensively she has holes. She went the distance with Hong but her face took a toll, and her left eye was badly swollen from the consistent shots the Korean was landing, and although gutsy her defensive flaws could be an issue going forward.
Aged 35 Amasheh is possibly getting her only shot at a major world. The German based fighter, originally from Jordan, drew on her debut before going on an impressive run from 2009 to late 2016, going 19-0-0-1, with the only black mark being a split decision loss-turned-No Contest against Amira Hamzaoui. In 2016 we finally saw that unbeaten run come to an end, as Amasheh was defeated by the under-rated Ana Arrazola. She did bounce back from that loss by winning the WBC Silver Super Flyweight title last March, beating the limited Kleopatra Tolnai. Since then however Amasheh has been away from the ring, for almost a year.
From footage of Amasheh she is an aggressive fighter who rushes forward behind a tight guard and looks to fight behind combinations, thrown in flurries. She's defensively open when letting her shots go but seems to fight like she sees her best defense as her offense. When she's not on the front foot she is defensively tight, but looks like she can't transition from one to the other. She's defensive, or offensive.
Whilst we expect to see a bit of ring rust from Amasheh we also expect her to be more aggressive, more crisp and bustier than Ozawa. Ozawa will take a lot to be stopped, but that's not out of the question, especially not late on. We don't imagine Ozawa has the power or speed to be competitive, but she should be able to put up a decent and entertaining effort en route to a clear loss.
Whilst boxing, at it's heart, might be a combat sport where participants get hit in the face some fighters do do well outside of the sport based on their looks. It's shallow and ignores their skills but it's certainly something a lot of fighters, especially female ones, have made a part of their careers in recent years.
One of the fighters who has certainly attracted a lot of attention is Japanese fighter Tomomi Takano (8-1, 5) who moves up in class this coming Wednesday to take part in her first world title bout. The gorgeous Japanese fighter will be up against the more proved and much more experienced Argentinian world champion Daniela Romina Bermudez (17-3-2, 5), the current WBO female Super Flyweight world champion.
The 28 year old Japanese fighter took up boxing late in life and although she's not rounded off her skills there is a lot to appreciate about her. Physically she has the build to be an excellent boxer. She's tall, long, rangy and in fantastic condition. If she had taken to boxing at a young age she could have rounded off her skills to develop and excellent jab and move gameplan that could have taken her far.
As it is Takano's not a terrible fighter. She's not the accomplished fighter that she could have been but she's improving all the time and is a fighter who scarcely resembles what she once was. She's not the most powerful but she now knows her way around the ring, she knows how to box and she knows how to use her physical traits to her advantage, though she's perhaps not able to do it against good competition.
As for the champion she's a real fighter who has been a professional for more than 5 years and mixed with some excellent opposition, including Edith Soledad Matthysse, Yesica Yolanda Bopp, Mayerlin Rivas, Linda Laura Lecca and Venesa Lorena Taborda. Whilst it's fair to note that she has lost to Bopp, twice, and Matthysse she has been mixing with success against very good competition.
In the ring Bermudez is a fighter. She can box but she's a gritty fighter who is likely to find the test of facing Takano and interesting one. She's the much small fighter but is one who will likely apply pressure from the off and look to get inside where she can go to work, if she can do that she'll be letting her hands go and breaking down the challenger.
Before we get on to our prediction we do need to note one more thing. Takano's weight. Stood at close to 5'10, and having fought as high as Super Bantamweight, we know she'll struggle to make 115lbs for this bout.
Given what we know about Takano, he struggles to make weight and her loss, a stoppage to Kei Johnson, we have to favour Bermudez to simply wear her down. The champion may not be a puncher but she will, simply, be too good for Takano.
Here we preview the key female title bouts involving an Asian fighter.