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.
The first of 3 world title bouts being held at the Ota City General Gymnasium today saw Japan's Miyo Yoshida (14-1) [吉田 実代] successfully defending her WBO female Super Flyweight title, as she comfortably out pointed and out landed Chinese challenger Li Ping Shi (5-3, 2).
From the opening moments it was Yoshida looking to close the distance, slipping the jab of Shi, getting up close and working away. When up close Yoshida made the most of the opportunities to bang the drum, slowly grinding down at Shi's will and desire.
Having proven the boss up close Yoshida then began to dominate the battle of the jabs as well, out boxing Shi with her own jab. Whilst Shi had the edge in reach it was the accuracy, timing and snap on Yoshida's that was the difference maker. Sadly for Shi the battles she was expected to come out on top of, weren't going her way and there was little she could do to turn things around, as Yoshida continued to rack up the rounds.
It wasn't really until round 9 that Shi really changed things around, letting her hands go more. Sadly for Shi she was now too tired to do much in terms of actually turning the fight around.
After 10 rounds we went to the scorecards, and there was never any question on the winner, with Yoshida taking the decision 99-90, 98-91 and 97-92 and recording her first defense.
Earlier today in Kagoshima fight fans saw WBO female Light Flyweight champion Tenkai Tsunami (27-12-1, 16) [天海 ツナミ] successfully defending her title, as she stopped Filipino challenger Jessebelle Pagaduan (12-2-1, 5).
The Filipino fighter showed ambition early on, taking the opening round with some solid shots up top. Sadly for Pagaduan that was about her only success though and it wasn't long until Tsunami managed to take over with her pressure and aggression.
With the fans getting behind Tsunami she began to really get going, and by round 6 it was clear that Pagaduan had given her all and her all wasn't enough. Tsunami had began not only beating her, but was chasing, with the Filipino trying to run away at one point.
In round 8 was saw Tsunami prove that "you can run but you can't hide", and she trapped Pagaduan, unleashing an attack that forced the referee to step in and save the out gunned and out matched challenger.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Sometime we just get fighters who are perfectly matched against each other. One such case is Saemi Hanagata (16-7-4, 7) [田中冴美] and Nao Ikeyama (18-6-4, 5) [森脇恵子], who met for the third time today, following two previous draws.
The first two bouts saw Ikeyama narrowly retain the WBO Atomweight title with the draws. She lost that title last year, and this time around it was Hanagata entering as a world champion, as she sought her first defense of the IBF Atomweight title that she won late last year.
Today's bout, as with their first two, saw little to separate the two fighters who once again put on a nail biting, all action nip and tuck 10 rounder.
Hanagata got off to a good start, taking the opening round as she showed fluid movement and landed good jabs at range. From then on however things got harder to call with Ikeyama stepping up her pressure and working up close. The pressure of Ikeyama saw Hanagata being dragged into a war up close and there was almost nothing at all two separate the two fighters through the first half of the bout.
In the second half the bout began to slow a little, due to Ikeyama's success with body shots, and Hanagata changed her gameplan slightly, rather than continued to brawl. It was then a case that Ikeyama's cleaner punching was catching the eye, just that little bit more than Ikeyama's work. Ikeyama seemed to realise that the bout was slipping away, and turned up the pressure again in round 10, as she did all she could to swing the bout back her way, but her effort wasn't quite enough.
After 10 rounds Hanagata got the win, via split decision, though again there was little to split the two fighters on the cards, with all 3 judges turning in scores of 96-94.
After 30 rounds we finally have a winner between Hanagata and Ikeyama, with Hanagata taking the series 1-0. It's worth noting however it took until Ikeyama was on the verge of her 50th birthday, for Hanagata to get a win over her.
With Ikeyama turning 50 next week it seems unlikely we'll see her in the ring again. Credit however needs to be given to her for the incredible performances she has been giving over the last few years. For Hanagata however the result will go down as one of her most significant.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Earlier today Japanese fight fans in Tokyo had the chance to see the fifth show in the Victoriva series of shows. The card are all female shows, and today's co feature bout was a WBA Atomweight title unification contest between "interim" champion Ayaka Miyao (23-8-1, 6) [宮尾 綾香] and the WBA regular champion Monseratt Alcaron (13-4-2).
Originally this bout was pencilled in to take place last November, but was cancelled when Alcaron was forced out with an injury. Today however we saw the two put on an ultra-competitive, but sadly for the local fans it wasn't to be for Miyao.
The opening round was a good one for Miyao, who's speed seemed to bother Alcaron. Sadly though it wasn't long until Alcaron found her footing in the bout and she swept rounds 2 to 4 on all 3 cards. The Mexican had taken the lead with her pressure, and although she seemed to struggle to land really hurtful blows her aggression was impressing the judges.
Strangely the judges really struggled to agree on things after round 4, with only 2 of the last 6 rounds have complete agreement from the judges. They were either caught up with the aggression and pressure of Alcaron or the speed and movement of Miyao. From the last 6 rounds one judge gave the Mexican rounds 5 through to 9, whilst another gave Miyao everything in the second half, other than round 6. It was the third scorecard that was the most interesting, giving Alcaron rounds 5,6 and 9 and Miyao rounds 7,8 and 10. The only rounds all 3 agreed with was rounds 6, to Alcaron, and 10, to Miyao.
Although the judges were obviously seeing different things to each other what they were all seeing was a high tempo fight between fighters with styles that just gelled really well and made for an action bout. Sadly for Miyao however the success of Alcaron in the first half was essentially the difference and after 10 rounds the Mexican was declared the winner of a split decision, with scores of 98-92 and 96-94 in her favour against a score of 96-94 for Miyao.
At the moment it's unclear what is next for the two. Miyao would likely be very interested in a rematch, and a chance to avenge this loss, though Eri Matsuda, who picked up a win on the under-card, may also be interested in favour Alcaron for the WBA title. Alcaron on the other hand might prefer to go back to Mexico and build at home from this win.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
Today there was two world title fights in Osaka, as the boxing world turned it's attention to Japan. What wasn't given much attention however was a Japanese card in Tokyo, headlined by a female world title bout between WBA female Flyweight champion Naoko Fujioka (18-2-1, 7) [藤岡 奈穂子] and Tenkai Tsunami (26-12-1, 15) [天海 ツナミ].
This was a bout that seemed to be pitting two of the greats of Japanese female boxing against other, and delivered the hidden gem of the week with an incredibly hotly contest 10 round affair at Korakuen Hall.
The younger, though more experienced, Tsunami got off to a great start. She managed to dictate the pace, using a good sharp right hand to help her dictate the distance and tempo of the bout in the early going. It was this game plan that saw her race into the lead on all 3 cards, leading 40-37 and 40-36, twice, after 4 rounds. She was making Fujioka look old, slow and clumsy, and putting on the sort of performance that many knew she was capable of, but hadn't shown on a regular basis.
As we've seen so many times through her career however Fujioka wasn't going to just sit back, hand over her title and lose. Instead she bit down on her gum shield, refuse to accept defeat, and began to turn the fight around in round 5, then starting a serious fight back, clawing back round after round. She showedthe determined doggendess of a champion and forced the action on to Tsunami, upping her out put and grabbing the bout by the collar. The change in attitude from Fujioka was incredible, and saw her doing just enough to retain he title, with a split decision draw.
After 10 rounds the judges had the bout 96-95 Fujioka, 96-94 Tsunami and 95-95, with Fujioka holding on to her title by the skin of her teeth, in a fantastic 10 round female bout, that certainy deserved more attention than it got on a great day for Japanese fight fans.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Earlier today in Korea fight fans saw Hyun Mi Choi (17-0-1, 4) [최현미] record her 7th defense of the WBA female Super Featherweight title, with a clear decision over Japanese challenger Wakako Fujiwara (8-3-2, 2) [藤原芽子] in Incheon.
The talented Choi was under pressure early on as Fujiwara looked to make a fast start and seemed to surprise the champion in the first couple of rounds. Sadly though it didn't take long for Choi to find her timing and her rhythm and from there on it was rather easy for the Korean.
Choi would establish her her range and begin to use her youth, speed and technical ability in round 3, and would essentially control the bout from there on, making Fujiwara look like a game but out classed challenger for much of the bout. Fujiwara, to her credit, always looked to make a fight of it, but was simply second best following her sprightly start.
With Fujiwara looking to fight hard there was always the potential for head clashes, and in round 9 the Japanese challenger was deducted a point for a head clash. The deduction didn't really make much of a difference to the out-come, with the judges scoring the bout in Choi's favour 98-91, 97-92 and 96-93.
For Fujiwara this was a good effort, but not good enough to over-come the unbeaten 2-weight world champion. For Choi the bout continues her run at world level, and hopefully she will get stiffer tests in the near future.