On May 15th we'll see a clash for the OPBF female Minimumweight champion Mizuki Chimoto (3-0, 1) defends her title against Kaori Nagai (6-3-3, 2). For Chimoto this is a chance for her to continue her rapid ascent through the rankings and make a move towards a world title fight later in the year, whilst Nagai gets a chance to add an OPBF title to her collection, which already includes the Japanese Atomweight title.
Of the two fighters the 27 year old Chimoto is the more accomplished, and the more highly regarded. She was an excellent amateur, representing Japan at the World Youth Championships and placing in the All Japan Championships several times. She has also shined as a professional winning the Japanese female Minimumweight title in her second bout, and the OPBF title in her third bout, beating former world champion Yuko Kuroki for that OPBF title.
In the ring Chimoto is a technically well schooled fight who's patient early on, light on her fighter, and applied intelligent and meaningful pressure. She's not in the ring to let her hands go every second of every round, but when she does let them go she's throwing with the intent of landing meaningful shots. Unlike some female fighters she also has a very solid guard, and good defensive skills, as well as intelligent defensive footwork, getting out of range just as well as she gets into it. Notably Chimoto is also physical strong, which works well with her style, and has under-rated upper body movement, when she uses it. Whyen she needs to up the tempo she can, but it often seems like she's fighting within herself, keeping something back and in the tank until she needs to call on it. Watching her it's clear she's an excellent talent, but someone who likely needs some seasoning, and some more ring time, before moving up another level.
Aged 32 Nagai is someone who has turned her career around after a very shaky start. She lost her first 2 bouts and was 1-2-3 after 6 contests, but has since gone 5-1, winning and defending the Japanese Atomweight title along the way. Notably her one loss since her second professional bout came last time out, to former world champion Ayaka Miyao, who showed that there was levels to the sport, despite a good effort from Nagai. On paper Nagai doesn't hold any wins of major note, but she has twice beaten Momoko Kanda as well as taking the unbeaten record of Ryo Sawai. She hasn't made a major mark on the sport, but she has really improved since her early days as a professional and could end up mixing in world level in a few years time, given the rate of her progress.
In the ring Nagai looks pretty basic, there's nothing that really stands out about her in terms of power, speed or work rate, and she does, unfortunately for her, look very upright with her chin in the air. Despite her flaws however she is getting results, and that comes down to her will to win, her ability to land sweeping shots, particularly with her right hand. She's lucky to have not fought a big puncher so far, but there's not many of them in the lowest weights of women's boxing, and her drive and willingness to grit her teeth through tough moments has earned her some good results so far. Sadly though against polished fighters we do expect her to come up short, as she did against Miyao.
Here we expect to see Nagai simply being out boxed, out fought, out thought, and out punched by a more polished, sharper, younger, faster and all round better fighter. Nagai, given her tenacity, will have moments against Chimoto, likely moments in every round, but won't have enough of them to impress the judges, with Chimoto landing the cleaner, better shots.
Prediction - UD8 Chimoto
Here we preview the key female title bouts involving an Asian fighter.