Earlier today in Sakai City, and around the world thanks to the Boxing Real YouTube channel, had the chance to see Japanese veteran Tenkai Tsunami (28-12-1, 16) [有馬真波] record her third defense of the WBO female Light Flyweight title, as she over-came Shione Ogata (11-7-1, 3) [緒方汐音].
On paper this was a really interesting match up, despite the records of the two women.
The 36 year old Tsunami had seen better days. She was a proper veteran of the sport, debuting back in 2005, and had been in her share of wars including a 2019 thriller with the legendary Naoko Fujioka. She was in a good run of form coming in, but father time, or should that be mother time, can catch up with a fighter in their 30's very quickly. On the hand Ogata had turned around her career in recent going 10-2-1 in her last 13 bouts, whilst taking 3 regional titles along the way. The challenger was in great form, had developed really well in recent years, guided by Nobuhiro Ishida, and was the local favourite, coming from nearby Neyagawa city.
At the start of the bout Ogata was on her toes, knowing that Tsunami can bring a lot of pressure and high work rate. The movement and jab approach is one we've seen have success against Tsunami in the past and we the right approach from Ogata, who was clearly the quicker fighter. Sadly for Ogata however the pressure from Tsunami was relentless yet intelligent and by the end of the round Tsunami was starting to close the distance. Regularly.
Ogata continued to try to use her feet to create space in round 2, but by then Tsunami was starting for force Ogata to fight the wrong fight and things were getting fought up close, with Ogata losing her composure, getting involved in a brawl and being dropped towards the end of the round.
Despite it only being round 2, the winner was looking very easy to predict and the only real question was whether Ogata would regain her composure and avoid being stopped. To her credit she did grit out some hairy moments in the first half, being hurt in round and really failing to fighter her own fight.
After being dropped in round 2, in trouble in round 3 and under intense pressure in round 4 it seemed inevitable that Ogata was going to be broken down. She was simply taking too many clean, heavy shots from Tsunami, she couldn't avoid Tsunami's over hand right, she couldn't get the space she needed to use her speed and she was looking more ragged by the round.
Surprisingly however she managed to get Tsunami's respect in round 5. It seemed, finally, like the nerves were starting to calm down, and that she was beginning to relax a little more. She was still taking more punishment than was good for her, but it was clear that she didn't feel the need to stand and trade as much. She was using her brain, rather than just fighting. It wasn't a round she won, but it was a significantly better round for her.
Despite showing more composure in round 5 Ogata was still in trouble, in a huge hole, and losing the rounds. It was as if she realised that it was better for her to try and box her fight in the second half rather than trying to win. When she did that she had some success. She wasn't doing enough to wins rounds, but was doing enough to keep Tsunami honest, and we saw this right through the second half of the fight. The challenger was challenging the champion. Not beating her, but challenging her, asking questions and trying to make sure she could take a moral victory from the bout. Something she did when she heard the final bell.
After 10 rounds we went to the scorecards. There was no real questioning the scores as all 3 judges had the bout 100-89 to Tsunami who was the worthy winner. At best you could have given Ogata a sympathy round, a pity round, though in fairness to her, surviving 10 rounds after how things looked early on was a big moral victory.
For Tsunami there are some potentially big options out there for her, and a clash with Seneisa Estrada would be something her team should look at for later in the year. As for Ogata, this was a loss, but a learning experience and hopefully we see her bounce back from this. She has character and determination and that allowed her to at least make a fight of this.
Earlier today at Korakuen Hall Japanese fight fans had the chance to see IBF Atomweight champion Saemi Hanagata (16-7-5, 7) [田中冴美] take on unbeaten challenger Eri Matsuda (4-0-1, 1) [松田恵里] in what was a really interesting match up. A match up that became even more interesting when Hanagata revealed, win or lose, this would be her final bout before retiring.
It was, on paper, a veteran against a newbie, a pressure fighting warrior against an outside boxer, a stalwart of the Japanese professional boxing scene against an up comer. It was a bout with so many little stories, and sub-stories, going into it that would could have been here all day talking about the intricacies of the two women and their relationship, with the two having previously sparred and with Matsuda stating that Hanagata has helped her become a better professional.
Whilst we could spend all day talking about those stories, it makes more sense, now, to talk about the bout which finished earlier today and a few hours after finished was uploaded to streaming service Boxing Raise.
From the opening bell it was, pretty much, the fight everyone expected. It was Matsuda on her toes, bouncing around at range, trying to use her reach and footwork to keep Hanagata at range. At the same time Hanagata was trying to march in, pressure and press, getting inside to try and work away at the body of the challenger. It was compelling straight away and despite both women having been out of the ring for over a year both looked sharp.
Hanagata tried to up the pace in round 2 and had much more success in getting close to Matsuda, who was forced to tie up and spoil when Hanagata got in her face. Despite being under more pressure Matsuda dealt with it well at times, and landed some really catching uppercuts as the round flew bye. Hanagata also managed to keep things close in round 3, as she seemed to become more and more willing to take one to land some. Matsuda was, however, still having her moments and it was not a clear cut round either way.
In round 4 Matsuda began to land more and more uppercuts, using the shots to try to discourage Hanagata from rushing in. They worked to some extent, but Hanagata continued to press, trying to grind down the challenger who's lack of power was an issue.
By round 5 Hanagata seemed to have dragged Matsuda into her fight. Matsuda tried to create space, but all too often found herself either backing up or forced into a response. This made the action fantastic to watch and saw plenty of exchanges between two world class fighters. Sadly however at times it looked like the two women knew each other a little bit too well, and almost seemed to anticipate the other's next move.
We had assumed, going in, that the second half of the fight would be the point where Hanagata's experience really came to the fore. Instead however it seemed her weary, tired, legs were slowing. She continued to press but it was Matsuda who seemed to find a new gear and land the cleaner punches in round 6. That seemed to anger Hanagata, who upped the tempo in round 7, and forced an all out war between the two fighters which saw the champion landing some fantastic shots, including a brilliant straight right hand down the pipe in round 7.
The two began to look tired in the later stages, not a surprise given the tempo they had been fighting at, but they continued to shots, dig deep and fight up close. It was as if Matsuda had decided that boxing and moving was the wrong tactic, and instead she repeatedly engaged Hanagata in Hanagata's fight. Despite fighting the wrong fight Matsuda managed to take the final 2 rounds, something that proved vital to the result.
After 10 rounds of ferocious, thrilling and enthralling action we went to the scorecards. This was clearly a close one. It was one that could have gone either and they both knew it. They embraced at the final bell, the ball breaking out into applause at the brilliant fight they had seen.
The scores were read out 97-95, Matsuda, that judge was however over-ruled as scores of 95-95 came in from the other two judges, giving us a draw.
After the bout Hanagata confirmed she was done with the sport, and that she would become an elementary school teacher. She also gave props to Matsuda, and suggested she'd become stronger from this experience. Some we tend to agree with.
For fans with Boxing Raise this is worth going to watch right now. It was a fantastic 10 round bout, and once again showed how good female boxing can be when the fighters are matched in competitive contests. For those without the service, it's certainly something worth considering.
Last night in Costa Rica fans had the chance to see the aggressive Sana Hazuki (8-5-1, 2) [葉月さな] get her first world title fight, as she challenged IBF Minimumweight champion Yokasta Valle (21-2, 9).
For Hazuki this was a career defining opportunity, though she was, obviously, the under-dog against an incredibly talented Valle, despite that she went over to Costa Rica with hunger and desire and that showed against a champion looking to record her second defense.
From the early going Hazuki was on the front foot, trying to attack Valle and pressing. Sadly however Valle's skills, counter punching, speed and timing were a massive difference and she neutralised Hazuki's pressure and made her pay for her ambition and aggression. Hazuki never stopped trying to bring the attack, but she lacked the nuance and skills to make her aggression pay, whilst Valle outboxed her, out skilled her and won round after round.
After 10 rounds there no faulting Hazuki's effort, but there was also no way to give her more than a round or two. That was shown on the scorecards, with two judges having it a 10 round shut out to the local star, and the third judge having it a little bit closer at 98-92.
After the bout Hazuki told the Japanese media "I didn't feel the power, but the height of the opponent was shorter than I expected and it was difficult to do. Even if I hit the punch, I felt the difference in career because of the quick judgment to turn to defense."
As for the future, Hazuki suggested that she was unsure if she would continue her career. It would be sad to see this be the end of her career, but at the age of 36 it's clear time is ticking on her career and if she bows out now, it's at least on the back of a world title fight.
Just moments ago we saw WBA female Super Featherweight champion Hyun Mi Choi (18-0-1, 4) [최현미] record her latest defense in a successful, and very entertaining, international debut as she defeated 32 year old Colombian challenger Calista Silgado (19-12-3, 14) in Florida as the chief support bout of a DAZN card.
Silgado started alright, and landed a nice jab very early on, but from there on Choi settled and won the rest of the round. Choi also looked good in the early part of round 2, hurting Silgado early in the round before the bell rang very early, in fact after about a minute of the round, cutting the already short 2-minute rounds even shorter, and potentially saved Silgado, who had looked hurt from a body shot earlier in the round.
From there Choi pressed the action, really fighting a lot more aggressive than she sometimes has in Korea. Instead of boxing and moving, as we have seen from her in the past, she was all out aggression here, trying to break down Silgado and take a TKO win. The aggression of Choi left her in harms way and she did take quite a few single shots, and counters from Silgado, but shook them off as if they were nothing through much of the bout.
Later in the bout Choi got a bit more sloppy defensively and she seemed to struggle at times in the later rounds, where Silgado caught her more frequently, but by then she was a long way ahead on the scorecards and just seeking a stoppage, to put the cherry on the top of her performance.
Sadly for Choi she was unable to finish off the Colombian, instead needing to take a clear 10 round decision on her US debut, with scores of 99-91, 98-92 and 97-93.
This wasn't best we've seen from Choi, but it was her most fan friendly bout. She ignored some of the tools in her arsenal and instead fought with the mentality of wanting to entertain and shine in her US debut, rather than fight safe. It made for an entertaining bout, but did see her take more shots than she really should have done. As for Silgado, credit it to her for surviving, and having moments, but we really should have seen Choi in with someone much, much better than Silgado, which would have given Choi a chance to show off her boxing skills, rather than trying to go out and score a stoppage, which isn't her typical style.
Earlier today at the EDION Arena Osaka fans were able to see two different shows, with the second of those being headlined by a WBO female Super Flyweight title bout between defending champion Miyo Yoshida (14-2) [吉田 実代] and unheralded challenger Tomoko Okuda (7-2-2, 1) [奥田朋子].
Going in to this Yoshida, a single mother who's story has really connected with the Japanese media, was seeking her second defense of the title she won last year, when she beat Casey Morton. For the challenger however this was likely to be her one and only shot at a world title, given she was 37 and father time waits for no one. It was also expected to be a physically draining effort for Okuda to make weight, coming down from her natural Bantamweight to Super Flyweight, a tough ask for a woman who looked massive at 118lbs.
Despite the stories going into the bout, it was Okuda who proved to be too good, too strong and too powerful.
From the off Okuda looked to be the aggressor, and looked to take the initiative, dropping Yoshida with a big right hand in the opening round. It was the perfect start for the challenger who continued to be the bully in there, using her size, strength, power and physicality when she needed to, and her big right hand as often as she could.
After starting in a hole Yoshida began to find her groove in round 4, using her speed to get in and out with some success. She seemed to be on the verge of building some moment as we entered the middle rounds though a head clash in round 5 left Okuda badly cut, and time began to tick down on Yoshida's chances of turning the bout around, with the bout being stopped in round 6.
Given the cause of the cut we went to the scorecards which favoured Okuda 59-54, twice, and 57-56, and saw the title change hands.
Although not currently available to watch on demand the bout will be uploaded to Boxing Raise in the coming days for fans to enjoy.
Earlier today at Korakuen Hall we saw a new WBO female Minimumweight champion being crowned as Etsuko Tada (20-3-3, 7) [多田悦子] stopped Ayaka Miyao (23-9-2, 6) [宮尾 綾香] to claim the previously vacant title. In the process she went on to reclaim the title she had previously held in 2018/2019, before she vacated it.
The bout was a much anticipated one, after the two women fought to a draw back in January, and it was expected to be another hotly contested bout. That was despite the two fighters having hampered preparation for this bout, with Miyao admitting she had essentially not been able to spar or the bout.
Within seconds of the bout starting the two women had clashed heads. Miyao's head down aggression and Tada's southpaw stance did not made for good bedfellows. Despite the headclash neither woman was cut and instead we quickly got down to action with Miyao ploughing forward and Tada looking to play the roll of the counter puncher in center ring. The most eye catching single shots seemed to come from the quicker Miyao, though they did often just bounce off Tada, who looked the bigger, stronger fighter and had more success in the exchanges.
The second round saw Miyao using her speed more intelligently, making Tada miss and countering well, rather than standing in the pocket for too long. It was a good game plan, but an energy sapping one, and one that should couldn't maintain as Tada went on to wins rounds 3 and 4, establishing the early control of the bout. That was helped in part by her physicality and strength, and Miyao certainly got the worse from a headclash very early in round 4.
To her credit Miyao showed no quit and came back strongly in the fifth round landing a number of good, solid right hooks, but in the end she still couldn't budge Tada, who looked the much more imposing and sturdy fighter in the ring. That was shown even more in round 6 when Tada began to force a war on Miyao, increasing her pressure and aggression, whilst also firing off very stiff southpaw jabs. Miyao, to her credit, tried to make things messy, but it was a lot of effort from the former WBA Atomweight champion.
After 8 good rounds of action it seemed we were well on our way to another decision between these well matched, world class ladies. That was until the very early moments of round 9 when Tada landed one of the best punches of her career and sent Miyao down face first, with the referee quickly waving the bout off. The show, a short counter straight left hand was landed perfectly and Miyao's own momentum resulted in her face first impact.
Currently it's unclear what the future will hold for the two women, though we wouldn't be surprised if the end was night for both women. Tada will be 40 in May and Miyao is already 37 years old, so both ladies are old, and both have slipped from being the fighters they once were. Saying that however it does sound like Tada wants at least 1 more fighter before hanging up the gloves.
The first title fight of the weekend saw WBO Atomweight champion Mika Iwakawa (10-5-1, 3) [岩川 美花] make her first successful defense as she narrowly over-came the hard working and none stop pressure of Nanae Suzuki (10-4-1, 1) [鈴木菜々江], to claim a split decision.
The opening round saw Suzuki look the press the action, with relentless pressure. Although she was pressing and pushing forward, she was struggling to land anything of note, and when Iwakawa turned it on late in the round she showed the gulf in class between the two women.
Sadly that round was one of the highlights of the early parts of the fight with many of the other early rounds descending into a bit of a sloppy messy. For the most part Suzuki was pressing, Iwakawa was countering well and then holding. It was dire early on.
That was until round 5 when Iwakawa started to use her legs more, creating space and seemingly feeling the pressure get to her. From there the bout suddenly started to turn around, and in round 6 we saw action heating up, with both fighters letting their hands go more and giving us a thrilling exchange.
The action continued to get better in round 7 as Iwakawa realised she had to fight fire with fire. It made for a very entertaining round of back and forth action. It was certainly more entertaining than some of the earlier action but was also a sign that Suzuki was drawing Iwakawa into her fight.
Suzuki's pressure just didn't relent and she kept marching on and on. In round 8 that pressure made Ishikawa get back on her toes as she looked for space. Space wasn't going to be easy to come by thanks to Suzuki's incessant forward march.
By the start of round 10 it was clear that Suzuki's aggression, pressure and messy yet none stop forward march had made things incredibly close. She never looked close to being Iwakawa's equal in terms of skills, but her will to win, her stamina and her energy had made life incredibly hard for the champion. The champion seemed to land all the better shots, but she was taking huge breaks in rounds and only showing glimpses of what she could do.
After 10 rounds we were to the scorecards and there was a split decision. The scores read out were 97-93, 96-94 to Iwakawa and a dissent score of 97-93 to Suzuki.
Despite a solid start for Iwakawa the real story of the fight was the pressure of Suzuki, who was relentless and made things incredibly close. Sadly her lack of clean work did play against her. Despite the loss she will be back, and did seem to win over fans online, who likely hadn't seen her before but were impressed by her none stop effort.
Given Iwakawa is 37 this was probably a bit of regrettable match making from her point of view. She was in there with a bundle of energy and she could never really find her groove against the pressure and aggression of the challenger. The gulf in skills showed through out, and Iwakawa is on a different level in terms of skill, but Suzuki's will to win made things incredibly tough.
On Saturday night in Costa Rica IBF Female Minimumweight champion Yokasta Valle (20-2, 9) recorded her first defense, as she took a stoppage win over the over-matched Carleans Rivas (8-7-4), from the Philippines.
Rivas, fighting in her first world title bout, had struggled to make a mark against top regional talent and seemed to a hand selected first defense for Valle, who had won the title last year with an excellent win in Spain over Joana Pastrana.
Valle was too good from the off, and sadly Rivas, whilst game, was out of her depth.
In front of a rapturous home crowd Valle out worked, out fought and out battled Rivas through the first 5 rounds, sweeping them.
The one sided nature of the bout continued into round 6 with the referee calling a halt to the action just after the midway point of the round, giving Valle her first defense.
Sadly for Rivas, who didn't look like she belonged in the ring here, this is her third stoppage loss, and it's very, very clear, that her limitations are really Filipino scene.
Whilst we under-stand Valle wanting an easy home coming defense questions need to be asked of the IBF for allowing Rivas to fight for the title. Her last 3 wins, dating back almost 4 years, have all come against domestic foe Floryvic Montero, who accounts for 3 of Rivas's 8 wins. Really the IBF shouldn't have sanctioned this, and in the end it goes to devalue their title. Their champion is excellent, but with a challenger like this the champion and title look bad by association.
The first world title fight in Japan this year came earlier today as former world champions Ayaka Miyao (23-8-2, 6) [宮尾 綾香] and Etsuko Tada (19-3-3, 6) [多田悦子] clashed for the vacant WBO female Minimumweight title.
On paper this looked like an excellent match up between two world class veterans. Whilst both were coming to the end of their careers both are still world class and we were expecting an ultra competitive bout between fighters who have been fighting at the top of the sport for years. When it came to the in ring action proved to be just as competitive than we expected.
Coming in we had anticipated the speed and volume of Miyao to be one of two major differences. The other with the power and strength of Tada. And this really proved to be the case with neither fighter ever doing enough to really dominate the action.
Early on Miyao used single shots, though lack of power, something that has been obvious through her career, meant they never bothered Tada. Whilst they were landing clean they did little whereas Tada's shots were having a clear visible impact, and kept Miyao at range. Whilst the volume seemed to be from Miyao the heavier blows were certainly from Tada.
As we went through the rounds Miyao's work rate grew and grew. The single shots were becoming less common and instead it was short raids and flurries from the Watanabe Gym fighter. She was coming in and letting 2 and 3 punch combinations go, firing off with both hands. This caused the action to get a touch messy, though both certainly had their moments in what were some hard to score rounds.
Tada started to look more and more like she was tiring in the later rounds of the fight whilst the quicker, sharper Miyao, really turned it on late, easily out landing Tada in the final rounds, as she tried to swing things her way. It was this late effort from Miyao that could made all the difference had it come just a few rounds earlier.
In the end the bout was a hard one to score. Both fighters had clearly taken a number of rounds each, but the others were debatable either way, and that showed on the score cards.
The first card favoured the 38 year old Tada, 96-94, the second card went with the 36 year old Miyao, 96-94, with the third being an even score of 95-95.
The result, a draw, leaves the title vacant.
A rematch would be interesting to see, though we do wonder what Tada has left in the tank. She looked old and slow in the later stages and a faster start by Miyao could have easily taken her the victory here. Though we wouldn't be surprised to see the two women go in different directions after was a gruelling, yet ultra competitive, contest.
The first "world" title fight to feature an Asian fighter this year didn't end well, as Japan's Chaoz Minowa (6-3, 5) [チャオズ箕輪] came off second best against WBC "interim" female Light Flyweight champion Kenia Enriquez (23-1, 9).
From the opening moments it was clear that Enriquez was the sharper, crisper, faster fighter and she made those traits show from the off with nice combinations against a slow, and almost gun shy Minowa. It wasn't until late in round 2 that Minowa managed to have any success, and the local commentary team managed to give the challenger round 3. That was a round where Minowa made Enriquez miss rather frequently but didn't manage to land too many counters of her own.
Minowa, who was very negative, was making Enriquez miss again in round 4, but not landing enough herself to get any respect from the Mexican who was happy to miss 2 to land 1 when she let flurries of shots go. Despite sticking to a volume strategy for the most part Enriquez made it clear that she did have some bang in he shots in round 5, when a big right hand from the champion rocked Minowa, who stumbled into the ropes. The referee judges that the ropes had kept up the challenger, and issued a mandatory count.
From there on the result seemed inevitable and Enriquez continued to out work, out land, out fight and essentially dominate the Japanese challenger. Minowa tried to box, she tried to fight fire with fire and she tried to counter but whatever she did Enriquez was equal to it. The champion was simply too good for the Japanese challenger, who looked well out of her depth.
A swollen Minowa was dropped again in round 10. She protested and seemed to suggest she had slipped or was tripped, but it made little difference.
After 3 rounds it was almost impossible to score the bout anything but a very, very clear win to Enriquez, with scores of 100-88.
For Enriquez this was a solid defense against a decent fighter, but it was proof that Minowa is a long way short of world class in the pro ranks. Minowa would always have been up against it and with more than a year out of the ring she really had no chance at all here against a world class fighter like Enriquez.