Earlier today Japanese fans got the chance to see two female world title fights. The more anticipated of those was a WBC female Minimumweight title fight between the defending champion Mari Ando (11-7, 5) and first time world title challenger Yuko Kuroki (11-5-1, 6). Surprisingly it was the first time challenger who came out on top taking a very well fought decision over the hard nosed Ando.
Ando, as she always does, was coming forward through out the bout but it turned out that the talented Kuroki managed to neutralise the aggression of the champion and find the distance to unleash her brilliant southpaw straight left.
The bout, which was competitive through out, saw a few momentum shifts but in the end it was Kuroki's accuracy and more refined shot selection that helped her over-come the determined and aggressive Ando who again lost a close one.
Sadly this is another set back for Ando against a world class opponent. For many her record now looks like that of a journey woman but the former WBC Minimumweight and WBA Atomweight is a 2-weight world champion and a very high-risk low reward fighter who may now struggle to get opponents. It's a shame as she has the style, which she showed again here, that is fun to watch even if it is some what crude and cave-woman-like. At 26 years old however there is a chance Ando will be able to get another chance and she will be able to smooth off the rough edges in her style that do let her down, as we saw again here.
The win for Kuroki puts her in to the frame for a big unification bout with teenage sensation Mako Yamada, the current WBO champion. Though we actually think she'll be more likely to face Saemi Hanagata or Etsuko Tada who both currently hold wins over the newly crowned world champion.
As for the WBC Minimumweight title it's unfortunately becoming a case of a hot potato with it's third champion in just 19 months. Hopefully Kuroki will manage to keep it around her waist for a while, as Naoko Fujioka did from 2011 to when she vacated the belt in 2013.
(Image courtesy of Joe Koizumi and features Kuroki on the left and Ando on the right)