Last night in Mexico fight fans were able to see WBC female Light Flyweight champion Yesenia Gomez (15-5-3-1, 6) narrowly retain her title, thwarting the challenge of Japanese fighter Erika Hanawa (10-4, 4) [塙英理加].
Hanawa, fighting in her second world title bout, brought the heat and applied pressure early on to Gomez, who relied on her movement to tray and get away and land jabs at range. Gomez managed to find her groove a bit more in round 2, though it was still Hanawa with the intensity and fire in her belly. The Japanese visitor seemed know this was a great opportunity and her training wasn't going to go to waste as she continually brought the fight to the champion.
Gomez managed to build her way into the fight, but was constantly under pressure until Hanawa began to tire. When that happened the superior boxing skills, and significant size advantage, of Gomez allowed her to do more than just neutralise the Japanese fighter's aggression, and she ended up returning fire with a lot more purchase than she had earlier in the bout. The later rounds seemed to suit her well, but the question had been whether she had started her charge early enough.
Sadly for Hanawa she was to come up short on the cards, with Gomez's fight back being enough to take her the win, with scores of 97-93, twice, and 95-95. Despite the loss the fight certainly showed that Hanawa could compete at world level.
In the sport of boxing we have so many great stories, and even losers in the ring can give us stories that warm our hearts and make it feel like we're going to root for them in the future. One such fighter got their fairy tale ending yesterday with veteran Kayoko Ebata (11-7, 6) [江畑 佳代子] finally winning a world title bout, and becoming the new WBO female Minimumweight champion. The veteran, fighting in her 6th world title bout, was up against unbeaten newbie Erika Hanawa (7-1, 2) [塙 英理加], and had spoken about retirement at the age of 41.
Despite her age Ebata fought like a hungry youngster who was in the ring with a point to prove, and that showed as she quickly established control of the range and tempo of the bout, despite being the slower fighter. Her control of the contest saw her sweep rounds 2-4 with all the judges as she took a clear and commanding control of the bout before the mid way point.
Hanawa's unbeaten spirit showed in round 5, as she looked to turn the bout around, but it was a brief moment of success and as Ebata stedied the ship the following round to continue her dominance of the contest.
At the final bell there was no disputing the winner, with Ebata winning the decision on all 3 cards with scores of 97-93, twice and 98-92.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)