Today Japanese fans at the Komagatani gym in Hyogo saw two new WBO champions being crowned. One of those was Katsunari Takayama, who claimed the WBO Minimumweight title with a technical decision over 18 year old Riku Kano, with the bout being stopped in the 6th round. The other was Australian warrioress Louisa Hawton (7-0, 3) who managed to out box and out fight the naturally bigger Kei Takenaka (11-0, 3).
The opening round was a cautious one, with neither wanting to take too many risks too soon. Takenaka tried to make the most of her size advantage, fighting behind a quick, but often wayward, jab, whilst Hawton looked for an opportunity to attack but didn't rush in. It was a technical type of round with neither wanting to make the first big mistake.
Unfortunately for Takenaka it seemed like she missed her early opportunity to strike and soon afterwards Hawton had found her groove, realising that Takenaka's key advantage was just her size. From then on Hawton went on the front foot, landing aggressive shots from round 2 and securing an early lead over Takenaka, who looked rather lost at times due to the aggressiveness and speed of the visitor.
The Japanese local knew she was behind going in to the middle rounds and tried to change the tempo of the bout, but she was met by Hawton who raised her own game to out battle Takenaka. It was as if Hawton was able to do everything Takenaka could do, better than her and that showed again in the later rounds with Takenaka being staggered in round 10 and being forced to look for counter shots.
By the final it was clear that the title, which had been vacant at the start of the day, was heading to Australia with Hawton, who claimed her first world title with a unanimous decision. The scorecards read 98-91, 97-92 and 96-93, with only the closeness of the third card really getting any criticism.
Sadly for Takenaka, who has claimed she wants to retire before her 31st birthday, this is a serious setback in her dreams to become a world champion before she walks away from the sport.
Whilst boxing fans around the world turned their attention to Japan for the 3 world title fights on new year's eve there was also an interest for fans of female fighting with 2 interesting female contests.
In Tokyo we had the more notable bout with model-turned-boxer Tomomi Takano (4-0, 3), pictured, taking a stoppage victory over fellow Japanese fighter Kumi Oishi (1-3, 1). Takano, who stole the headlines at the weigh-in in Tokyo by dressing in a wedding dress, used her height and reach well to defeat the much shorter Oishi.
Over in Osaka fans had their own female fight to watch as the light hitting Kei Takenaka (6-0, 2) scored a rare stoppage defeating Thailand's Yinglek Sithsaithong (6-3, 4) via a second round KO. Whilst this was Takenaka's first stoppage for a year, her last coming exactly a prior, it was the third straight stoppage defeat for Yinglek.
Interestingly for Takenaka this was the first time she had faced an opponent with a win, never mind a winning record, and as a result it could well be the fact she knows she can step if needed. She has rarely lost a round in her 6 bouts to date and there is no doubt she'll have interest in title fights sometime in 2015 if not 2014.