Earlier today we saw the WBO female Minimumweight title change hands as Japanese veteran Etsuko Tada (20-4-3, 7) [多田悦子] was dethroned, in somewhat controversial fashion, by mandatory challenger Thi Thu Nhi Nguyen (5-0, 1), from Vietnam.
In the opening round Tada was the one to establish herself in the middle of the ring whilst Nguyen got on the move, and used the ring more, getting a look at Tada, and using her speed and youth well.
From round 2 onwards Nguyen decided to hold her feet more, with the two fighters often exchanging shots in nice little moments of back and forth action. Those exchanges were really dominated by two things, Nguyen's left hand, which was landing in both jab and left hook forms, and Tada's straight left hand, which was less accurate but much more telling. Through much of the fight it was those two punches that really caught the eye and kept the action competitive looking.
Of course straight left hands, from a hard hitting southpaw, do mark than pitty patty jabs, and it seemed that whilst Nguyen was landing more shots, she wasn't doing much damage, or getting respect from Tada, who seemed to always have the bigger words in the exchanges. It was however not a clear and dominant start for Tada, given she was being out landed.
As the rounds went on the tempo slowly increased, with both women picking it up. The lead to Tada's heavy left hands hurting Nguyen several times in the final rounds of the bout, though Nguyen's toughness showed as she saw out the storm and fired back. She was clearly hurt in rounds 9 and 10, but gritted it out, and managed to see out the distance.
After the final bell all 3 judges all turned in identical scores of 96-94, in favour of Nguyen who got the decision.
It should be noted that the promoter of the event was Nguyen's promoter, and whilst she certainly had a strong start to the fight, from round 2 to 5, it did seem like she was very lucky to get the victory. Especially given how well Tada finished the bout.
Whilst it can be easy to feel sorry for Tada it should be noted that Nguyen actually created history, becoming the first Vietnamese world champion, male or female, in the sport. With that in mind we really hope she can help lay down the marker for the Vietnamese boxing scene, and help kick start a legitimate movement in the country.
Earlier today in South Korean fans had the chance to see long reigning WBA Super Featherweight champion Hyun Mi Choi (19-0-1, 5) score her 9th defense of her title as she stopped Brazilian challenger Simone Aparecida da Silva (17-17, 6), in what was a bit of a pointless match up.
The talented Korean, who had been hoping to unify against Terri Harper this year, was levels above the challenger from the off. In fact they didn't look like they belonged in the ring together with Da Silva looking very much like a fighter who wasn't even close to world class. Whilst her record was a good sign of her limitations, it didn't tell the full story and she had lost her previous 3, with her last win came at Super Bantamweight almost 2 years ago.
Choi controlled behind her jab, controlling the range and tempo of the bout against a challenger was in trouble numerous times through the bout, and even seemed scared of Choi's power at times, a worry given Choi is a noted non-puncher.
In round 9 the challenger was down twice, with the second knockdown forcing the referee to wave off the contest, giving Choi her first stoppage since she beat Siriwan Thongmanit in 2015, a fighter she stopped in 3 rounds in a none title bout and had previously been stopped by Choi in 2014. For those curious da Silva becomes the first fighter, other than Siriwan, that Choi has stopped since she beat Kittika Sithan back in 2011!
Whilst it was good to see Choi in action, real questions need to be asked of the WBA who have again allowed Choi to defend her title against a fighter totally unfit to face her. Her impressive record in world title fights, 18-0-1 (4) looks great but in recent years she lacks a win of note in a division that has got plenty of talented fighters in it. The WBA needs to sort out who they are green lighting for title shots as this is becoming a joke.
Just moments ago we saw Japanese veteran Tenkai Tsunami (28-13-1, 16) [有馬真波]lose the WBO female Light Flyweight title as she came up against the brilliant Seniesa Estrada (21-0, 8), in what was a brilliant bout that showcased how exciting, and action packed female bouts can be, when the best face the best.
From the off it was clear that Estrada was the quicker, sharper fighter, with the better footwork and the cleaner punches however whilst Tsunami was the bigger, stronger fighter, with a style based around bringing pressure and trying to wear Estrada. For the first half of the fight the styles gelled amazing well, with Tsunami coming forward, chasing Estrada, who landed some brilliant shots up top in flurries. The eye catching flurries were all from Estrada, but she was being caught with some solid single shots as Tsunami's pressure had moments of real success.
Sadly however after a relative competitive start to the fight, through the first 4 or 5 rounds, Estrada went through the gears and really showed her class, with huge shots in round 6 and a blistering body attack in round 7, that really took the wind out of Tsunami and limited her work rate as a result.
Following the brutal body assault in round 7 Tsunami never really looked the same. She pressed forward a lot, but really ended up just walking into fire, as Estrada landed combination after combination and clearly shook the Japanese warrior several times in the later rounds. Tsunami battled through, showing her incredible toughness, but it really was a painful final few rounds for Tsunami, who really looked tired and out of her depth as we went through the championship rounds.
After 10 rounds there really was no debating the outcome. At best you could have made a case for Tsunami to have won 3 rounds, at best. None of the judges however agreed with that, as they turned in scores of 99-91, and 98-92, twice, to give Estrada the clear, and well deserved, victory.
With this win Estrada becomes 2-weight champion, and continues her rise to becoming arguably the most valuable female fighter in the sport.
As for Tsunami it's hard to know where she goes from here, but there are still doors open if she wishes to continue in the sport, or alternatively she can retire, on the back of an excellent career which has seen her win world titles at 115lbs and 108lbs and be one of the stars of the previous generation of female boxing.
In the first of two female fights involving Japanese world champions we saw the legendary Naoko Fujioka (19-2-1, 7) [藤岡 奈穂子] retain her WBA Flyweight title with a brilliant performance against the teak tough and determined Sulem Urbina (12-2-0-1, 2).
Early on Urbina looked good, she looked younger, fresher and faster than Fujioka, who struggled to pin foe down at times. It was a really good start for Urbina, whilst making for a great action start, with both fighters forced to take some big shots. From round 3 however Fujioka began to get inside, and really began to work the body of Urbina, with combinations of hard body shots.
The body shots from Fujioka continued through the middle rounds of the fight as she began to break down Urbina, who's work rate began to drop off, massively. Urbina, who is well known for her toughness and work rate, was really taking a pounding through the middle rounds relying more on her toughness than anything else. There were moments where Urbina would land a good counter, but it did little more than slow Fujioka, who quickly resumed control.
The one brief break for Urbina was round 8, where she managed to land a handful of solid counter shots, but they weren't enough to get Fujioka's respect, with the Japanese warrior continuing to shake them off and come forward with a real warrior mentality. That mentality, and incredible work rate, saw her drown out Urbina in the final two rounds, as she put any doubt about the result to bed. Urbina always attempted to fight back, but simply couldn't cope with the volume, and the body shots from early in the bout played a major role through the final 60& of the bout.
After 10 rounds it seemed Urbina had been out worked, out fought, and despite her bravery and toughness she had been beaten. She had been game, and banked herself some early rounds, but had been clearly beaten through the middle and late rounds. We then went to the scorecards.
The first card was 95-95, about as generous to Urbina as you could possible get, then the second was 99-91 to Fujioka, about as generous to her as you could get, with the third being 96-94, a touch closer than we had it but the most accurate of the three cards, giving Fujioka the majority decision win on her US debut. This was a clear win for Fujioka, yet it was also a competitive bout with some great moments by both.
After the bout Fujioka and fellow Flyweight champion Marlen Esparza had a brief back and forth at ringside, complimenting each other and talking about a potential bout, something we may well see in the relatively near future.
For those missed this one, they missed out on a great performance by a legendary fighter, and an incredibly brave showing by a tough, TV friendly fighter. Together they gave us a very, very good fight, and the type of fight that female boxing needs more of. Exciting, two way action
Last year we saw Tomoko Okuda (7-3-2, 1) [奥田朋子] over-come Miyo Yoshida (15-2) [吉田 実代] for the WBO female Super Flyweight title, with a technical decision win. Today the two women faced off again with Yoshida looking to prove she was the better woman and Okuda looking to show her win over Yoshida last year wasn't some sort of freak win.
From the off Okuda looked to make the most of her size advantages, using her jab at range and catching the shorter Yoshida with uppercuts when she got inside. It was a solid start from the champion, but Yoshida was show real determination and managed to get inside in round 3 as her pressure slowly began to see her claw her way into the bout. That pressure began to have more of an effect in rounds 4 and 5 as Yoshida refused to back down, despite being caught by some solid jabs from Okuda.
Despite Okuda's brave effort Yoshida managed to have one of her both rounds in round 6 as she managed to get close and force a fire fight that got the attention of the fans, who broke out into applause for what the women were giving us. It was a relatively short moment of sustained success for Yoshida, before Okuda came back really well in round 8, preventing Yoshida from getting in the pocket for the round. Okuda's ability to keep the fight at range was, however, not something she could do for ever and the final round saw Yoshida going all out with pressure, unleashing shots with both hands up close forcing Okuda to fire back.
The huge effort from Yoshida provide vital when we went to the judges, with the former champion reclaiming the WBO title via a split decision, with scores of 96-94, twice in her favour and once in favour of Okuda.
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.