On February 25th we'll see two different generations of Japanese female fighters collide as professional novice Eri Matsuda (4-0-1, 1) takes on veteran Ayaka Miyao (24-9-2, 6), in a bout for the vacant IBF Atomweight title which Saemi Hanagata gave up last year.
For the 27 year old Matsuda this is just her second world title fight, following a draw with Hanagata in 2021, and marks just her 6th professional bout. Miyao on the other hand has more than 10 world title fights to her name, has previously held the WBA and WBA "interim" titles at Atomweight, has more than 30 bouts in total and is now 38 years old with her professional in 2004 debut pre-dating the JBC's recognition of female boxing.
Whilst the fighters are from very different eras of female they are also fighters with very different styles. In fact their styles, in many ways, sum up the two eras of women's boxing.
Miyao has always been a fighter who has used speed, work rate, stamina and determination to win fights. She's never been particularly well polished, but she gets in the ring to our work opponents, out fight them, and out punch them. Not only does she have great output with her hands but she's a little bit like the energiser bunny, with quick footwork, and rarely stands still for more than a second or two. She sets the tempo, and demands others come with her, or lose. Sadly for her however she has aged in recent years, and injuries as well father time have started to take a toll on her, with an injury against Nao Ikeyama in 2016 being something of the start of the end for her, and a brutal TKO loss to Etsuko Tada in 2020 seemed to suggest that retirement was imminent. This shot is too good to turn down, but we do wonder what she has left in the tank.
Matsuda on the other hand is a scientific fighter, with a polished style. She wants to fight long, use her reach, fight at range and make the most of her straight shots, timing, and boxing brain. She can look very uncomfortable when crushed for space, as we saw when she faced Nanae Suzuki and Mont Blanc Miki, but if she can dictate behind her movement and long punches she can make things look very easy for long stretches. Unfortunately in her sole title bout she was held to a majority decision draw with Saemi Hanagata, though she did seem to do enough to deserve a win there, and we suspect the draw will do her more good than harm, showing she can do 10 rounds and she can bite down and fight a fighter's fight when she needs to.
Against a prime Miyao we would see this as a potential loss for Matsuda. The energy and work rate of Miyao would be a nightmare for someone like Matsuda, who is the more polished boxer, but can be a little bit happy to not put her foot on the gas. Against a 38 year old Miyao however we see Matsuda struggling early on, then getting a read on the veteran and doing enough to take a clear, yet hard fought, decision victory. Matsuda's youth, particularly her younger legs, will prove to be the difference maker here.
This coming Friday we'll see an interesting rematch as WBO Atomweight champion Mika Iwakawa (10-5-1, 3) makes her second defense, and takes on Nanae Suzuki (10-4-1, 1), the woman she retained the title against in a brilliantly contested bout in 2020. It's due to how good their first bout was, and how hotly contested it was, that we now see the two facing off again.
For those that missed the first bout between these two, which took place in Kobe on a show promoted by Shinsei Promotions, that bout was a really great one. Through out the bout Suzuki made the fight, pressing the action from the first round and setting a high tempo with a very impressive work rate. She came forward constantly whilst Iwakawa was forced to box and move, and use her feet, looking to create space and work at range. As the bout went on however Iwakawa was forced to fight Suzuki's fight as her legs and movement began to fade and she was forced to hold, wrestle, survive and even run away, making things very close on the cards. After 10 rounds the scores were 97-93 Iwakawa, 97-93 Suzuki and 96-94 to Iwakawa, who took a questionable split decision win.
Sadly the rematch between the women, which really should have taken place in 2021, is taking place almost 18 months after their first bout, and neither fighter has fought since their first clash. Which is genuinely disappointing, but a sign of what 2021 did to the careers of a number of Japanese fighters, who were unable to stay busy.
At her best Iwakawa is a talented technical boxer. She likes using range and distance, countering, and has sharp movement. She's a really solid technical fighter in a division where output, work rate and energy are typically more important than boxing skills. Sadly though she's now 38 and given she's never been the most active fighter in the ring, and does depend on timing and reactions, we do worry about her here. Her inactivity and age will not be doing her favours here, especially given she seemed to run out of steam in the later rounds last time she faced Suzuki.
As for Suzuki she it very much a fighter who's technically limited, she lacks power, and her defense is questionable, but she's a little bundle of energy, who comes forward, lets her hands go, a lot, and looks to make fights into a war. She can be out boxed, as she was against Eri Matsuda in 2019, but few will beat her in a tear up, especially over the longer distances as her aggression, work rate and stamina grinds opponents down and makes her a very tough woman to beat.
Given how the first bout between these two ended, and how long it's been since that bout, we can't help but feel a determined, hungry Suzuki will out work, out fight, out battle and grind out a victory against Iwakawa. Early on Iwakawa will have real success, but by rounds 4 and 5 Suzuki will be coming on hard, and will for Iwakawa into survival mode. This time around we suspect a judge will take a point from Iwakawa as she grapples to survive, and that will seal her fate.
Prediction - UD10 Suzuki
This coming Monday Japanese fight fans at Korakuen hall will see Japanese female Featherweight champion Yoshie Wakasa (7-2, 2) make her first defense, as she takes on veteran Kimika Miyoshi (15-13-1, 6), the woman she beat for the title in 2020. This is an "immediate rematch", in the loosest sense of the word, but still a very important one for both fighters. For the winner a potential world title could be on the line, whilst the loser could end up retiring with really nowhere to go.
The 33 year old Wakasa began her career in good form, winning her first 6 bouts, before back to back losses in 2019, losing to Miyo Yoshida and Wakako Fujiwara, seemed to slow her progress down. Despite those losses she bounced back more than a year later to dethrone Miyoshi in a career best win to claim the title.
Although no world beater Wakasa is a good solid fighter, who lacks power but has a good work rate, a solid jab and and fights to win. She fights like someone who believes in her own toughness and although she's technically limited she's a good honest professional who gets in the ring to fight and brings plenty of pressure along the way.
Aged 38 Miyoshi is a true veteran who has been a professional since 2008. She began her career with losses in her first 2 bouts but has rebuilt brilliantly over the years to win OPBF titles in 3 weight classes and even get a world title fight in 2017, losing a wide decision to Hyun Mi Choi. Given her record it's easy to think she's a terrible fight, but in all honesty she has proven to be much better than her record suggests.
In the ring Miyoshi has had success through sheer hard work and grit. She is technically very, very limited, and has never really shown much polish, but she brings pressure, she constantly marches forward, and she always looks to make things rough, tough and hard for opponents. She has a pretty tight guard, but it's very much used as little more than just something to come behind rather than rather than something to help set up counters. It's very static and basic.
In her prime Miyoshi would have been the favourite against Wakasa, but at 38 and with father time getting to her she's a long way from her prime. And much like their first bout we suspect the slightly more polished boxing, energy and work rate of Wakasa will be the difference maker. It'll be a fun enough bout but not the most competitive or the most high level.
Prediction - UD6 Wakasa
When we talk about the best pound for pound female fighter on the planet there are few that can challenger Irish boxing queen Katie Taylor (19-0, 6), the undisputed Lightweight champion, and of the greatest female amateurs of all time and a woman who has already scored a host of notable wins. Sadly the female Lightweight division has essentially cleaned out by Taylor, who has wins over Viviane Obenauf, Anahi Ester Sanchez, Jessica McCaskill, Victoria Noelia Bustos, Cindy Serrano, Eva Wahlstrom, Rose Volante, Delfine Persoon, Natasha Jonas and Jennifer Han. To get a good test she needs to either go over old ground, with bouts against Persoon and Jonas being interesting or move up in weight.
Sadly instead of chasing a legacy defining fight at a different weight Taylor is scraping the barrel and this weekend she will face Kazakh challenger Firuza Sharipova (14-1, 8). On paper Sharipova looks like an okay challenger, but in reality she's a fighter with a horribly padded record, no wins of note, and a career that has been played out just as much in the Kazakh press as the boxing ring. In fact if anything anything she's been in the press more for stupid stories rather than her boxing career.
When we talk about Katie Taylor, we talk about a fantastic fighter who can box, brawl or fight. She's among the best pure boxers in female boxing, but when she needs to dig deep and fight she's proven she can do that too. The only thing missing from her arsenal is fight changing power. She has great stamina, fantastic work rate, a good boxing brain, solid technical skills, she's well polished and determined to prove she's the best. If she had power she would be a truly sensational fighter, instead of just an excellent one.
Sadly when it comes to Sharipova we talk about one who is poor, untested, limited and who's best wins come against fighters that wouldn't even be in the top 10 wins for Taylor. Fighters like Djemilla Gontaruk and Yuliya Kutsenko are the best she's faced, and neither of those are close to being world class fighters. Sadly it's the other opponents that sum up Sharipova's resume best, with fighters like Happy Daudi having shared the ring with her, and Daudi looked like she had stumbled into the ring whilst looking for a friend rather than looking for a fight. Sadly even against someone as limited and poor as Daudi, Sharipova didn't shine, instead she had a punch bag in front of her who essentially gave up being hit rather than gave up trying to win.
Sharipova's record might suggest she has some power, but that really says more about her competition. Only one of her stoppages has come against a fighter with a win, and that was the aforementioned Happy Daudi. Sadly for her she's not going to have the fire power to get Taylor's respect. She's not going to have the skills to test Taylor. She's not going to have anything to make Taylor think twice. Instead Taylor is going to beat Sharipova into submission in a bout that is not just a step up in class, but something more akin to getting an elevator from the basement to the pent house suite. She is going to get a beating here, and hopefully she doesn't have the heart and will to stay in there for too long. Fingers crossed she knows her limits and doesn't take a career changing beat down to Taylor.
Prediction - TKO 5 Taylor
On December 9th we'll see a new Japanese female Minimumweight champion being crowned as Nanako Suzuki (5-2, 1) and Sayo Segawa (1-1, 1) battle for the currently vacant title, which was given up by former champion Yuma Narita following her first defense last December.
Aged 22 Suzuki is the younger fighter, despite having more professional experience than Segawa. Suzuki debuted at the age of 17, back in 2017, and scored win on debut before suffering her first loss in her second bout, when she was beaten by Eruka Hiromoto. She bounced back with a couple of wins, including one over Ka Yan Won in Hong Hong, but was beaten in a minor surprise in 2019 as she returned to Hong Kong and lost to Renz Dacquel. Since that loss she has notched up back to back wins and built some momentum whilst also winning her first 6 rounder.
In the ring Suzuki is an energetic little fighter, who bounces on her feet a lot and comes forward behind a busy jab. Sadly she is tiny and whilst her jab is busy it's not a damaging one. It also doesn't really set the table for her other shots as her right hand is slow and wide and her other shots often look more like slaps than full blooded punches. She's very much a developing fighter, but she looks like a novice in there with a lot of work to do. Offensively she's not particularly sharp, though she is quick. Sadly though she is very open defensively and so far she's been lucky not to have faced opponents able to really take advantage of all her defensive holes.
Segawa was a former amateur standout before beginning her professional career in 2019. She impressed in her debut, beating a Thai visitor, but was beaten in her second professional bout. Whilst she is an inexperienced professional she was very established in the amateur ranks, coming 3rd in the All Japan Championships and scoring more than 30 wins with almost half coming by stoppage. Sadly though she is diminutive, and is less than 5 foot tall, which will be a problem as she steps through the levels of the sport.
Given her amateur credentials it will be little surprise to learn that Segawa's a polished fighter. She does things properly, her shots are crisp and clean, her movement looks natural and educated, and her footwork is solid, though somewhat rigid. She picks her shots well, she sets a good tempo and she looks like a much more polished version for Suzuki, tidying up a lot of the flaws we mentioned with Suzuki. Sadly she's lacking power, and doesn't seem to put too much on her shots, but she is quick, aggressive and clearly understand what she's doing in the ring.
We suspect Suzuki can go on to win a title in the future. Here however we expect the polish and amateur skills of Segawa to be the difference maker, and her loss last time out will act as the sort of bout to correct her focus, and develop a more intelligent gameplan, rather than holding her feet as she did last time out,
With neither fighter having much in terms of power we can't imagine this one finishing early, we do expect a lot of shots landed by both in an exciting and very fun fight. Just unfortunately for Suzuki we don't think she has the tools to beat the more polished Segawa.
Prediction - UD6 Segawa
This coming Thursday fight fans at Korakuen Hall will get the chance to see OPBF female Flyweight champion Chaoz Minowa (6-3, 5) make her first defense, as she takes on Yumemi Ikemoto (7-1) in an interesting looking 8 rounder.
Sadly whilst this will be Minowa's first defense it's not like her reign has just begun, in fact she won the title way back in 2016, in just her third professional bout. Back then she was regarded as one of the hottest prospects in female boing, and there was talk about her going up and down the weights and winning world titles in a huge number of weights. Sadly however things haven't worked out for her, and now, some 5 years later, this OPBF title is still the only one she has held. Despite that she has been busy and she's gone 3-3 (3) since her OPBF title win, and challenged for world titles on a number of occasions. Sadly she's fallen short at world level, but it does seems like she could have success by dropping back to Oriental level.
The problem for Minowa is that, despite being a good amateur, he style as a professional is rough and raw. She's more focused on her power and aggression rather than her boxing skills. It's made her fun to watch, but it's also come at an expensive of her stamina and her results and there's been times where a more conservative approach in the ring could have yielded better results, such as her bout with Tenkai Tsunami in 2018. She has also been plagued with inactivity and fought has fought just 6 times since winning the title back on December 13th 2016! From those 6 bouts, 4 took place in 2018.
Sadly coming in to this one it's not just Minowa who has lacked activity, but also the challenger. Ikemoto began her professional in 2016 and was 6-1 by the end of 2018, but has only fought once since then, with that being a decision win over limited Filipino fighter Gretel de Paz. To date her most notable result came in 2018, when she beat Yuki Koseki for the Japanese female Flyweight title, but sadly she never defended that title. Rather than building on that win she has been inactive, and comes into this bout after having been out of the ring for well over 2 years, and close to 3 years!
In the ring Ikemoto is an aggressive, fun fighter to watch. She comes forward and applies pressure, has under-rated power and lets her shots go up close. She's not particularly polished, but she is exciting, comes to fight, and puts a lot into her shots. She also gives opponents chances to catch her, and she's quite basic in a lot of things she does. She comes forward in straight lines, she throws wide shots and she can be very open to counter shots. So far she has, on the whole, gotten away with her flaws, but this is a step up in class for her.
Given the styles of the two women it's hard to imagine this being anything other than a fun, brutal action bout. Sadly for Ikemoto her lack of power will be an issue here, and we suspect that Minowa's extra pop will be the difference maker in a very exciting action bout. We expect to see the two women spending a lot of time toe to toe and unloading, making for an eye catching and thrilling contest, with Minowa doing enough to take a close win.
Prediction - UD8 Minowa
This coming Saturday we'll see WBO female Minimumweight champion Etsuko Tada (20-3-3, 7) make her first defense as she takes on mandatory challenger Thi Thu Nhi Nguyen (4-0, 1) from Vietnam. The bout might not look like anything special on paper, but it should be a very interesting one, pitting a 40 year old, veteran champion, against a 25 year old, looking to make her mark on the sport and put Vietnam on the boxing map.
Of the two women it's Tada who is the much, much more well known. The veteran has been a professional since 2008 and is one of the most decorated Japanese female boxers in history. During her 26 fight career she has won the WBA, IBF and WBO Minimumweight titles and fought in 18 world title bouts since 2009. It's not just the numbers that are impressive, but also her competition and she holds notable wins over the likes of Cho Rong Son, Ibeth Zamora Silva, Naoko Shibata, Yuko Kuroki, Kayoko Ebata and Ayaka Miayao.
In the ring the champion is an aggressive fighter. Over the years she has developed from a raw fighter, full of energy but lacking in finese, to being more of a pressure-fighter. Sadly her legs have slowed over the years, something that obvious happens in a fighters mid to late 30's, but she applies intelligent pressure, has a good work rate, is incredible tough and has solid power, as Miyao found out. She can be out worked, she can be outsped and out boxed, but few fighters will manage to outlast her over 10 rounds, and she's a genuine nightmare for anyone at 105lbs.
The challenger on the other hand is a bit of an obscure fighter. She debuted as a professional in 2015 and then vanished before returning in 2019 and picking up two low key wins. She then kicked off 2020 with her biggest win to date, beating Kanyarat Yoohanngoh in Camboddia for the WBO Asia Pacific female title. That bout saw the Vietnamese fighter taking a split decision over the Thai, in a 10 rounder, the longest bout of her career. Sadly since that win, in February 2020, Nguyen has been out of the ring, with numerous planned and scheduled bouts falling through due to issues with Covid and covid related travel restrictions.
In the ring Nguyen lighst to fight as a pressure fighter, coming forward behind a tight guard, using good upper body movement and pressing opponents around the ring. She's not the most active with her output, as we saw against Yoohanngoh, but her forward march does look like it could make for some very exciting bouts against the right opponents. Technically her punches aren't particularly crisp, and they don't look like they have a lot of weight on them, yet they seem to have an effect when they land, and we suspect she's a much heavier handed fighter than she looks. Although she likes to pressure she does have very slow feet, and given her lack of output it seems clear she can be out boxed, out worked, and out fought, though it may be easier said than done.
Given the two fighters involved the styles should gel really well. They should meet face to face, and that should allow for a high tempo bout on the inside, something that we strongly favour Tada in. Nguyen can make for good fights, but we feel she's up against a much better version of herself here, and the sort of fighter that she'll not manage to do what she wants against. In fact we suspect Nguyen will be the one looking for plan B and plan C sooner rather than later.
With that comment in mind we do need to bring up the elephant in the room, the promoter. The bout is taking place in South Korea, and a card promoted by Nguyen's team. Nguyen's win over Yoohanngoh did not look on the level, and the two 99-90 scores were atrocious. Tada will need to be aware that she's not going to have the judges on her side, and will really need to win clearly to get the decision. We think she'll look to really hurt and punish Nguyen over the course of the fight and make it clear that the judges can't rob her here, despite maybe trying.
Prediction - SD10 Tada
On august 11th we'll see a new OPBF female Light Flyweight champion being crowned as Yumi Narita (5-4-3, 1) and Kaoru Iga (4-1-1) battle for the currently vacant title in Osaka. On paper this doesn't look like the most competitive of bouts, given the respective records of the two women, but in reality it should be a much more compelling bout that the records suggest.
Of the two fighters the more well known is Narita, who debuted in 2016 and has 12 professional bouts to her name, including 4 Japanese title level. Notably she is 2-1-1 at Japanese title level, having won and defended the Japanese female Minimumweight title in 2020. Although she lacks in terms of notable wins, she has held Chie Higano to a draw and did beat Mont Blanc Miki last time out, in her sole Japanese title defense.
In the ring Narita isn't a particularly tidy fighter, her defense is open, she can be hit and does get hit. She is however the sort of fighter who looks have her say in every exchange, and if you hit her you better be expecting to take one back in exchange. Sadly for her however her lack of power, her only stoppage came in 2016 in her first professional win, does mean that having exchanges doesn't result in getting respect from her opponents.
Iga on the other hand has only been a professional since 2019, and she actually failed to win either of her first two bouts, drawing on debut and losing in her second bout. After that disappointing start she's gone on to win her last 4 bouts, though has yet to beat a fighter with more wins than losses. She was last seen out in April, beating Sachiko Kondo in a 6 rounder and that bout will serve her well here, but she is still stepping up significantly from that win, and her competition really has been poor so far.
In the ring Iga is certainly inexperienced, and light punching, but is aggressive, comes out to fight, launches a lot of shots and and seems to enjoy an actual fight. Sadly for her she's not very polished, and is really reliant on her hunger and stamina rather than her skills, but it does make for fun to watch action fights.
Watching the two women in action one this is clear, there is more to Narita's game than there is to Iga. Iga is very much aggression, and throwing a lot, whilst Narita does know her way around the ring a bit, she can box or move, and whilst both are crude there is a clear difference in skill set between the two women. We suspect that, and the experience edge of Narita, will be the difference maker here, with Narita doing enough to earn a very close and competitive decision, and claim the OPBF title.
Prediction - SD8 Narita
Over the years we have had some legendary Japanese female fighters but it's fair to say that none quite compare to current WBA female Flyweight champion Naoko Fujioka (18-2-1, 7) who has become the bar by which all other Japanese female fighters are compared. The talented Fujioka is the only Japanese fighter, male of female, to have won world titles in 5 weight classes, she has chased her legacy around the globe and won world titles from Minimumweight to Bantamweight. Not only has she done great things in terms of winning titles but she has also beaten a who's who along the way, with wins against Naoko Shibata, Anabel Ortiz, Naoko Yamguchi, Mariana Juarez, Shindo Go, Yokasta Valle and Irma Sanchez. In just 21 professional bouts she has done almost everything she could ever have dreamed of doing in the sport.
The one thing missing from Fujioka's resume is scoring a win in the US, something she gets the chance to do this weekend when she takes on the once beaten Sulem Urbina (12-1-0-1, 2) in Los Angeles. A win for Fujioka would add another cherry on to one of the best careers of a female fighter in the sport, whilst a loss would be a farewell to the 45 year old boxing legend, who must know retirement is looming around the corner.
For those who haven't followed Fujioka's career, and we genuinely can't blame you given how low profile female boxing was until very recently, she was a former amateur standout before turning professional in 2009 aged 34. An ancient age for a fighter, especially a lower weight fighter. She quickly raced through the ranks, winning an OPBF title just over a year after making her debut and stopping Anabel Ortiz for the WBA Minimumweight title within 2 years of her debut. She then pursued greatness, jumping from Minimumweight to Super Flyweight and dethroning Naoko Yamaguchi before bouncing up and down the weights picking up titles at Bantamweight, Flyweight and Light Flyweight whilst etching her name in the Japanese boxing history books.
In the ring a prime Fujioka could do it all. She could box, she could fight, she could brawl, she had a good work rate, solid engine, a real will to win, and a desire to be the best. She was technically not the most perfect. There was a clumsiness to her style, but one that she generally got away with due to her strength and physicality. At times it could look like she was being dirty, sneaky even, but on the whole it was aggressive clumsiness, something often seen in female boxing, especially when fights are close and hotly contested. She was a born fighter, who became a good boxer, but was still a fighter at heart. Sadly however at the age of 45 she's also now a true veteran and she's not been seen in the ring since a draw with Tenkai Tsunami back in July 2019, around 2 years ago! She has also only fought twice since the start of 2018, leaving us with questions as to what is really left in the tank.
The challenger on the other hand is a 30 year old Mexican born American based fighter who really hasn't done a great deal as a professional, since debuting in 2016. As an amateur Urbina competed at a high level, with some very mixed success, before beginning her professional career in Mexico in 2016. She began her professional career with a string of wins against some very low level competition, and was tested in some of those bouts, before making her US debut last year with a win over Noemi Bosques. To be honest her wins, so far, have come against very, very weak opposition, with her most notable victory coming against the limited Judith Rodriguez. Her competition isn't fitting of a world title challenger, despite her pretty looking record.
The only real stand out name on Urbina's record is Marlen Esparza, who beat Urbina in October 2020, with a very clear decision. Sadly that was her most recent bout.
Despite her competition being limited Urbina is genuine a very solid fighter. She gets in the ring and comes to fight, she lets good body shots go, she looks to set a high pace, puts forward a lot of pressure and comes to let shots go straight away. Her shots are thrown with bad intentions, she keeps pressing, and she has very, very busy hands. Although not the most polished, or smooth boxer, she makes for good TV friendly fights and at the end of the day the sport needs more fighters like that!
Give the styles of the two women we expect to see them both get close early on, and really unleashing shots in high volume at close range. Fujioka could make this easy by boxing and moving, but we're not sure the 45 year old legs of Fujioka would be able to stay on the move 10 rounds, like Esparza did against Urbina, and instead we expect to see her holding her ground and really beign happy to have a war with Urbina.
It's a real shame we're not seeing the prime version of Fujioka here. There's a chance that Urbina will be in the right place at the right time to take advantage of a faced legend. But in reality that should be considered an upset. Even with this version of Fujioka. Instead we suspect the clean punching, and the heavier shots of Fujioka will be the difference maker and will be enough for her to take home the victory here.
Prediction - UD10 Fujioka
It's fair to say that July 9th is not one of the biggest boxing days of 2021 but it is a day that will allow female boxing to shine with two female title fights taking place on a Golden Boy promoted card in Los Angeles. Of the two bouts, the more interesting will see WBO female Light Flyweight champion Tenkai Tsunami (28-12-1, 16) clash with WBA female Minimumweight champion Seneisa Estrada (20-0, 8), in what is a bout that promises to be something very special.
On paper it's easy to over-look this bout, and generally it's easy to over-look female bouts in general, after all Tsunami has 12 losses and a draw to her name in just 41 contests. However she's a real veteran who has been consistently competing at the world level over the last decade, has shown no fear of opponents, and is going through one of the best runs in her time as a boxer.
Estrada may well be the best female fighter in the sport, and the potential face of female boxing, but this bout promises to be among her toughest, and she's in there with someone who embodies the samurai spirit of Japanese boxing. When you combine the explosive skills and power of Estrada, with the work rate and determination of a fighter like Tsunami you tend to get something incredibly fun to watch. The sort of bout female boxing needs more of.
For those who haven't followed female boxing until recently the exploits of Tsunami are really worth talking about. The 36 year old has been a professional since 2005, boxing before the Japan Boxing Commission even recognised female boxing. She quickly climbed through the ranks, despite some early setbacks, and won the WBA female Super Flyweight title in 2009. She managed to make 4 defenses of that title before losing to the huge punching Naoko Yamaguchi in 2012. That loss saw her fall to 18-4 (7) and began a downfall in her career that resulted in her losing 5 of her following 6 bouts, with the losses coming to a who's who of female boxing stars like Janeth Perez, Mariana Juarez, Zulina Munoz, Yessica Chavez and Arely Mucino. After that string of results it appeared she had become a journey woman with a 19-9 (8) record. Since then however she has rebuilt her career, and is 7-1-1 (6) since 2016, with a move down to Light Flyweight really helping her re-establish herself as a world class fighter. Not only has she captured the WBO female Light Flyweight title since moving down in weight, stopping former amateur standout Chaoz Minowa, but she has also defended the title 3 times.
In the ring Tsunami lives up to her name. She simply keeps coming. She's tough, she has a really good work rate, she comes forward and she likes a fight. For a 36 year old she has a great engine, and real toughness. The fact she was a world champion at 115lbs before re-emerging at 108lbs shows her physical toughness and strength. Sadly she isn't the most technical fighter out there. She can be out boxed, she is slow of foot, and she she's not great when chasing an opponent, as we saw in her 2015 loss to Carolina Rodriguez, but in a toe to toe war there are few better than Tsunami.
Whilst Tsunami is part of the old wave of female boxing Estrada is certainly part of the newer wave, despite making her debut all the way back in 2011. In fact her career really struggled to get going as she fought twice in 2011, fought her third bout in 2014 and then took over a year away before her 4th bout. Thankfully however since 2015 she has been in action regularly and has really built a reputation as one of the best female fighters in the sport. That has really been on show in recent years with wins over notable opponents like Anahi Torres, Debora Rengifo, Gretchen Abaniel, Marlen Esparza and most recently Anabel Ortiz. She hasn't just been beating fighters however, she has been dominating them and rarely losing a round. In fact not only has she been out boxing and out fighting decent opponents but she has also been scoring some really blistering stoppages as well, most notably her blow out over Miranda Adkins. She really does look like one of the few female boxers who can do it all, and given her in ring style, her personality and her looks she really does seem poised to become the star of female boxing, and at 29 "Super Bad" could very easily be exactly what female boxing needs to build on.
In the ring Estrada is aggressive, she sometimes takes a risk or two that she doesn't need to as a result, but she's quick, sharp, technically very solid, heavy handed, can box, move, fight, brawl and punch and she really does tick every box. Not only is she capable of doing everything in the ring, but she's doing it against some top opponents, making Anabel Ortiz, one of the longest reigning champions in boxing history, look like a second rate fighter. Estrada is special. She's the type of fighter than can change perceptions about female boxing, if she gets the right opponents, and genuinely we think she has the perfect opponent to show what she can do here.
As mentioned in a fire fight Tsunami is going to be very, very hard to beat. Estrada might well try to have a fire fight, but we don't think she'll try that, or at least not for long. Tsunami's slow feet will instead allow Estrada to bounce in and out, to unload shots, and to use Tsunami as target practice. Tsunami's toughness, will to win and aggression will mean she'll refuse to back down, and she'll keep coming and coming.
We suspect Estrada's skills will neutralise Tsunami for the most part, with the Japanese fighter having just enough moments to make the fight exciting, but nowhere near enough to make it competitive. After 10 rounds there won't be any confusion over who deserves the win, but Tsunami's heart will recieve a lot of praise, as will Estrada's boxing, aggression,and skills.
Prediction - UD10 Estrada
Here we preview the key female title bouts involving an Asian fighter.