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.
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.
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)
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.
Earlier today in Okinawa fight fans saw WBO female Light Flyweight champion Tenkai Tsunami (26-12, 15) [天海 ツナミ] successfully defend her title for the first time.
The champion, who won the belt earlier this year when she stopped Chaoz Minowa, was going up against Filipino challenger Gretchen Abaniel (18-10, 6) and the size difference between the two was obvious at the weigh in.
The first round was a good one from Abanilel, who looked busy and fast whilst Tsunami walked forward looking to cut the disrance. Sadly though for the challenger her success was short lived and in round 2 Tsunami managed to cut the distance and land some damaging body shots which started to take their toll on the challenger, who slowed round by round.
After becoming less and less fluid in rounds 2 and 3 Abaniel was starting to hold her feet more and struggled to get away. In round 4 she ended up trapped against the ropes and Tsunami began to unload until the referee stepped in and saved the challenger.
Abaniel really lacked the size and strength to cope with Tsunami and it was clear that he claim of moving into a better division was wrong. For her the future must be at either 102lbs or 105lbs. For Tsunami however this was a great win and great showing for the local fans in Okinawa, where Tsunami hadn't fought in years.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Earlier today fight fans at the Korakuen Hall saw former Japanese amateur standout Chaoz Minowa (5-1, 4) [チャオズ箕輪] take a huge step up in class, as she took on former WBA female Super Flyweight champion Tenkai Tsunami (25-12, 14) [天海 ツナミ], and found herself floundering in a bout for the WBO female Light Flyweight title.
The novice was aggressive form the opening bell, something she has typically been since starting her professional career. The aggression was effective early on, and caught the judges' eyes in the first two rounds but as she began to slow the experience of Tsunami began to show, as she moved around the ring and picked Minowa off with good counters.
The shots of Tsunami megan to land with more damaging intentions and she would give Minowa a nasty cut over her right eye in the middle of the fight. It wasn't a fight ending cut, but it was one that Minowa never really recovered from. Instead Tsunami stepped up her work rate, landing jabs and straights at will and making Minowa look like a novice as she chased her foe around the ring, only to get tagged.
After a really 1-sided 8th round in favour of Tsunami the decision was made in Minowa's corner to pull their fighter from the contest. It was an admission of defeat, and humbling one for Minowa, who had promised much but really look out of her depth. For Tsunami the win see's her becoming a 2-weight world champion and she is now looking to further establish her career, which sh may well have saved with today's win,
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
In the last couple of years we've seen an increase in the profile of female boxing. The rise of fighters like Nicola Adams, Claressa Shields and Katie Taylor has helped set the tone for the next generation of female boxing. Despite their notable names, and the view that they maybe the stars of a new golden era in female boxing, it's hard to ignore some of the fighters who came before them, that includes Japan's Naoko Fujioka (17-2, 7) [藤岡 奈穂子].
Today Fujioka cemeted her place as one of the top female fighters on the planet, as she claimed a world title in a 5th weight class, adding the WBO female Light Flyweight title to a collection that already included a WBC title at Minimumweight, a WBA title at Super Flyweight, a WBO title at Bantamweight and a WBA title at Flyweight.
The Japanese boxing queen was up against unbeaten Costa Rican Yokasta Valle (13-1, 6), who had previously won the IBF Atomweight title, and despite a slow start was in charge through out.
Valle won the first round, using her youth and size to keep Fujioka from forcing the fight. The visitor looked like she could pose problems but Fujioka managed to up the pressure in the following round, and from then on it was a struggle to find rounds to give Valle, who looked game but out of her depth.
At the end of 10 rounds there was little doubting the winner, with Fujioka taking the decision with scores of 99-91, 98-92 and a surprisingly close 96-94.
At the moment it's unclear what Fujioka's future holds but bouts in the US have been mentioned, along with contests against Tenkai Tsunami (24-12, 13) [天海 ツナミ] or Chaoz Minowa (4-0, 3) [チャオズ箕輪], showing that she has a lot of options, despite now being 42 years old.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Earlier today fight fans in Kyoto saw a female world title fight, sadly though for those fans they also saw local fighter Tamao Ozawa (14-4, 4) [小澤 瑶生] come up short, as she lost a split decision to Korean fighter Su Yun Hong (15-1-1, 7) [홍서연], with Hong becoming a 2-weight due to the win.
Hong took control early on, landing her sharp southpaw jab to control the distance and tempo of the early rounds. Ozawa had her moments but it seemed clear that Hong was using her more refined skills to come out on top of the exchanges. As the bout went on the rounds were frequently close, and there was very little to seperate the two women at times. In fact so competitive were the two fighters that both were left swollen, bloodied and clearly marked up around the face from the consistency of shots that landed clean.
In the later stages it seemed clear that Ozawa was coming on strong, winning the last 3 rounds on two of the cards, and winning 2 of the last 3 on the other card, but sadly for her time wasn't on her side and by then she was two far behind to claim the victory. Instead losing the split decision with socres of 96-94, 96-94 and 94-96.
For Hong the win sees her scoring her first win in Japan and opening doors to other potential fights in the Land of the Rising sun, whilst Ozawa fails in her first world title bout, but showed enough to suggest she can come again in the near future, and there is a good chance she will win a world title before her career is over.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
To end an action packed Saturday our attention turned to Mexico where the IBF female Light Flyweight title was on the line, as Japan's Naoko Shibata (16-4-1, 5) [柴田 直子] sought to continue her reign and do the double over Mexican foe Alondra Garcia (17-3-1, 1), the woman she originally beat for the title back in November 2013. Sadly for Shibata her 3 and a bit year reign came to end, after 5 successful defenses.
The bout didn't seem to start with round 1 of fight 2 but instead round 11 of the Shibata Vs Garcia rivalry, and was fought at a brilliantly high tempo pace which just got better and better as the rounds went on. The high octane nature of the fight wans't just exciting but also compelling with both fighters having their moments in a back and forth round.
The back and forth action continued through a number of rounds, with only a number of clear cut rounds either way, such as round 2 and 9 for Garcia and rounds 5 and 8 for Shibata. Unfortunately though with 6 close rounds it was clear the score cards could have been all over the place, and unfortunately for Shibata they were all against here.
The close nature of the rounds, and the back and forth highlights that both ladies had, meant almost any score was allowed,though all 3 judges favoured Garcia with cards of 94-96, 92-98 and 93-97. It's fair to say the 94-96 card was the nearest to ours, and whilst we could see the the other two cards they did seem hard, especially the 98-92 card. Incidentally the cards were exactly reverals of their first bout, which Shibata won 96-94, 97-93 and 98-92.
A third bout would make sense going forward but we wouldn't be surprised by Shibata taking another option and Garcia looking for bigger paying opportunties instead.
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.