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.
Earlier today at Korakuen Hall we saw a new WBO female Minimumweight champion being crowned as Etsuko Tada (20-3-3, 7) [多田悦子] stopped Ayaka Miyao (23-9-2, 6) [宮尾 綾香] to claim the previously vacant title. In the process she went on to reclaim the title she had previously held in 2018/2019, before she vacated it.
The bout was a much anticipated one, after the two women fought to a draw back in January, and it was expected to be another hotly contested bout. That was despite the two fighters having hampered preparation for this bout, with Miyao admitting she had essentially not been able to spar or the bout.
Within seconds of the bout starting the two women had clashed heads. Miyao's head down aggression and Tada's southpaw stance did not made for good bedfellows. Despite the headclash neither woman was cut and instead we quickly got down to action with Miyao ploughing forward and Tada looking to play the roll of the counter puncher in center ring. The most eye catching single shots seemed to come from the quicker Miyao, though they did often just bounce off Tada, who looked the bigger, stronger fighter and had more success in the exchanges.
The second round saw Miyao using her speed more intelligently, making Tada miss and countering well, rather than standing in the pocket for too long. It was a good game plan, but an energy sapping one, and one that should couldn't maintain as Tada went on to wins rounds 3 and 4, establishing the early control of the bout. That was helped in part by her physicality and strength, and Miyao certainly got the worse from a headclash very early in round 4.
To her credit Miyao showed no quit and came back strongly in the fifth round landing a number of good, solid right hooks, but in the end she still couldn't budge Tada, who looked the much more imposing and sturdy fighter in the ring. That was shown even more in round 6 when Tada began to force a war on Miyao, increasing her pressure and aggression, whilst also firing off very stiff southpaw jabs. Miyao, to her credit, tried to make things messy, but it was a lot of effort from the former WBA Atomweight champion.
After 8 good rounds of action it seemed we were well on our way to another decision between these well matched, world class ladies. That was until the very early moments of round 9 when Tada landed one of the best punches of her career and sent Miyao down face first, with the referee quickly waving the bout off. The show, a short counter straight left hand was landed perfectly and Miyao's own momentum resulted in her face first impact.
Currently it's unclear what the future will hold for the two women, though we wouldn't be surprised if the end was night for both women. Tada will be 40 in May and Miyao is already 37 years old, so both ladies are old, and both have slipped from being the fighters they once were. Saying that however it does sound like Tada wants at least 1 more fighter before hanging up the gloves.
On Saturday night in Costa Rica IBF Female Minimumweight champion Yokasta Valle (20-2, 9) recorded her first defense, as she took a stoppage win over the over-matched Carleans Rivas (8-7-4), from the Philippines.
Rivas, fighting in her first world title bout, had struggled to make a mark against top regional talent and seemed to a hand selected first defense for Valle, who had won the title last year with an excellent win in Spain over Joana Pastrana.
Valle was too good from the off, and sadly Rivas, whilst game, was out of her depth.
In front of a rapturous home crowd Valle out worked, out fought and out battled Rivas through the first 5 rounds, sweeping them.
The one sided nature of the bout continued into round 6 with the referee calling a halt to the action just after the midway point of the round, giving Valle her first defense.
Sadly for Rivas, who didn't look like she belonged in the ring here, this is her third stoppage loss, and it's very, very clear, that her limitations are really Filipino scene.
Whilst we under-stand Valle wanting an easy home coming defense questions need to be asked of the IBF for allowing Rivas to fight for the title. Her last 3 wins, dating back almost 4 years, have all come against domestic foe Floryvic Montero, who accounts for 3 of Rivas's 8 wins. Really the IBF shouldn't have sanctioned this, and in the end it goes to devalue their title. Their champion is excellent, but with a challenger like this the champion and title look bad by association.
The first world title fight in Japan this year came earlier today as former world champions Ayaka Miyao (23-8-2, 6) [宮尾 綾香] and Etsuko Tada (19-3-3, 6) [多田悦子] clashed for the vacant WBO female Minimumweight title.
On paper this looked like an excellent match up between two world class veterans. Whilst both were coming to the end of their careers both are still world class and we were expecting an ultra competitive bout between fighters who have been fighting at the top of the sport for years. When it came to the in ring action proved to be just as competitive than we expected.
Coming in we had anticipated the speed and volume of Miyao to be one of two major differences. The other with the power and strength of Tada. And this really proved to be the case with neither fighter ever doing enough to really dominate the action.
Early on Miyao used single shots, though lack of power, something that has been obvious through her career, meant they never bothered Tada. Whilst they were landing clean they did little whereas Tada's shots were having a clear visible impact, and kept Miyao at range. Whilst the volume seemed to be from Miyao the heavier blows were certainly from Tada.
As we went through the rounds Miyao's work rate grew and grew. The single shots were becoming less common and instead it was short raids and flurries from the Watanabe Gym fighter. She was coming in and letting 2 and 3 punch combinations go, firing off with both hands. This caused the action to get a touch messy, though both certainly had their moments in what were some hard to score rounds.
Tada started to look more and more like she was tiring in the later rounds of the fight whilst the quicker, sharper Miyao, really turned it on late, easily out landing Tada in the final rounds, as she tried to swing things her way. It was this late effort from Miyao that could made all the difference had it come just a few rounds earlier.
In the end the bout was a hard one to score. Both fighters had clearly taken a number of rounds each, but the others were debatable either way, and that showed on the score cards.
The first card favoured the 38 year old Tada, 96-94, the second card went with the 36 year old Miyao, 96-94, with the third being an even score of 95-95.
The result, a draw, leaves the title vacant.
A rematch would be interesting to see, though we do wonder what Tada has left in the tank. She looked old and slow in the later stages and a faster start by Miyao could have easily taken her the victory here. Though we wouldn't be surprised to see the two women go in different directions after was a gruelling, yet ultra competitive, contest.
The rise in interest of female boxing has certainly been seen with the media interest in the West, where fighters like Claressa Shields and Katie Taylor have been put at the forefront of of rising scene.
It's not just the West that have seen talented new female fighters however and Asia also have some of their own, including youngster Kasumi Saeki (4-0, 3) [佐伯霞], who announced herself today as she took the WBO female Minmumweight title, in just her 4th professional bout.
The talented Japanese fighter was facing off with Mexican foe Elizabeth Lopez (6-2-4, 1) in a bout for a title that had been vacated earlier this year by Etsuko Tada. On paper this looked like a step up for Saeki, but in reality she made it look easy.
Saeki felt her way into the bout with her jab to begin with, then opened up more from round 2, landing hooks and straights as she started to test the resilience of Lopez. Lopez didn't offer much in terms of offensive work, and in round 3 Saeki really did begin to settle, using her speed and movement to prevent Lopez from doing much of note. The one thing Lopez did try was to rough up Saeki, but even that back fired as Saki's speed and timing neutralised Lopez's rough and crude attempts at attacking the Japanese fighter.
In round 5 Saeki would drop Lopez with a left hand, for the first time. Lopez's fighting spirit saw her get up, but a second knockdown the following round saw the referee wave off Lopez and give Saeki her biggest win to date.
At the time of the finish Saeki was leading 50-44, on all 3 cards, and there was no argument at all, about Lopez deserving a round.
The main event of Real Spirits Vol 60 saw Watanabe veteran Kayoko Ebata (12-8, 6) [江畑佳代子] attempt to record her second defense of the WBO female Minimumweight title, as she went up against former 2-time world champion Etsuko Tada (18-3-2, 5) [多田悦子].
The 37 year old Tada, who had had reigns as the WBA and IBF champion, was 5 years younger than Ebata, 42, and had home advantage with the bout being held in Osaka.
Those advantages for Tada proved to be useful early on, as she she was quicker and sharper than Ebata, who struggled to get off and close the distance. There were moments for Ebata, but they were fleeting moments, with Tada looking in control through much of the contest. It was Tada who dictated the overall tempo, it was Tada who decided the distance and how southpaw stance made life even more difficult for Ebata, who struggled to get around the lead hand of the challenger with any frequency.
As the two began to slow in the middle rounds both suffered cuts around their left eyes, with Tada being cut in round 6 and Ebata cut in round 7.
Going in to the final round it seemed clear that Tada was in a comfortable lead, and she stood and traded with Ebata in a thrilling final round, a round that Ebata took on two of the cards. By then however the result was in the bag for Tada, who took the decision with scores of 98-92, twice, and 97-93 .
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Earlier today Japanese fight fans at the Korakuen Hall saw WBO female Minimumweight champion Kayoko Ebata (12-7, 6) [江畑 佳代子] successfully record her first defense of the title, as she over-came Korean veteran Ji Hyun Park (22-3, 6), in a very close and competitive bout.
The Korean, who hadn't fought in well over 2 years, came to win and put the 42 year old champion under pressure almost immediately. To her credit Ebata used her feet really well as she looked to get in and out, but it was the pressure of the Korean challenger that caught the eye in the early going. The champion took the pressure from the challenger well and fought back whilst making Park look inaccurate at times. It was a good counter punching performance from Ebata, and one that seemed to impress the impress the judges, two of which gave her 3 of the first 4 rounds.
Park refused to be put on the back foot for long, and she seemed to impress the judges in the middle rounds and made things really close going into the final rounds. Ebata's experience, and relative lack of ring rust, proved to be the difference with Ebata managing to narrowly secure the win with her clean counters in the final rounds, taking a decision with scores of 95-95, 96-94 and 97-93, to take a majority decision.
Ebata admitted that after hearing the 95-95 score-card she expected to be on the losing end of the decision, but with the win she intends to return to the ring and continue her reign. As for Park, who looked very frustrated by the decision, she has called for a rematch and made no secret of the fact she feels she deserved the win.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Earlier today fight fans in Fukuoka got the chance to see Atomweight great Momo Koseki (24-2-1, 9) [小関 桃] show how great she is as she claimed her third world title, and became the WBC female Minimumweight champion, out pointing the talented Yuko Kuroki (17-5-1, 8) [黒木 優子].
The bout looked a great one on paper, with Koseki moving up in weight to take on a fighter who had been regarded as one of the best female Minimumweights on the planet. The competitiveness that we expected was seen in the early stages, with Kuroki having some good moments early on. The ability of Kuroki saw her claiming the opening round on one card, claiming the second on another and the 4th on two cards. From then however it was almost all Koseki.
The challenger had set the early pace, pressing the action and forcing the pressure. This caused Kuorki some real issues, but the champion did manage to land a number of counters and did enough to keep Koseki honest. Despite the counters the scoring was heavily favouring the aggressive Koseki with scores of 39-37 on two cards, and 38-38 on the third.
Through the middle portion of the fight Koseki really poured it on and extended her lead, to the point where she was leading 69-64, 68-65 and 67-66 after 7 rounds. By then it really was all Koseki and Kuroki was struggling to really put up much of a fight back as she was simply out worked, out fought and struggled to ever get off through the shots of Koseki.
Round 8 was a rare good one for Kuroki, who took the round on all 3 cards, but the final 2 rounds were both Koseki rounds as she easily took the decision, with scores of 98-92, 97-93 and a bizarrely close 96-94.
After the bout Koseki revealed she would be taking a break before deciding her next move, whilst Kuroki accepted that she was a fighter who was going to have to rebuild, but still has dreams of becoming a unified champion.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
This past Saturday saw the boxing world focus on Wales, where Anthony Joshua faced off with Carlos Takam, that however wasn't the only show of note, with Macau hosting a female world title fight between IBF female Minimumweight champion Zong Ju Cai (10-1, 1) and Filipino challenger Gretchen Abaniel (18-9, 6).
The bout started at an exciting pace with the challenger pressing the action and the champion being forced to fight off the back foot and counter the very aggressive Abaniel. It looked like it was going to be a very tough first defense for Cai but mid way through round 2 she began to grow in confidence and make the most of her southpaw stance with raidng attacks and lovely clean punches between the messy assaults of Abaniel.
As the fight went on Abaniel's assaults began to call shorter and shorter and her output dropped, allowing Cai to dictate the pac with more ease. There was still flurry's from Abaniel, but they were less and less effective, with Cai holding when she needed to bunt the Filipino's assaults. It always seemed that whilst Abaniel was having more attacks than the champion they were much less effective than the faster, more accurate punching of the Chinese fighter, who showed good movement through out.
In the final rounds Abaniel tried to up the ante and press with more intensity, really forcing Cai backwards through out round 9, as it seemed she needed to try and turn the fight around. It broiught her more success, though she did seem to be stung by a counter of Ca's at one point in round 9 and lacked the energy, and power, needed to hurt the local favourite. The same intensity from Abaniel was seen in round 10 and caused Cai to commit a number of fouls, which almost saw her being deducted a point.
At the final bell Abaniel celebrated loudly, but it did seem like she hadn't quite done enough to dethrone the champion, despite a lot of effort in the final rounds, whilst the champion looked calmly confident of having retained her title. The view of Cai's was confirmed by the judges who scored the bout in favour of Cai with two cards of 97-93 and one of 98-92 in favour of the champion.
Although it seemed clear that Abaniel felt she had done enough she lacked the effective work needed to win over the judges, who would have been impressed by Cai's accuracate and effective work.
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)