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)
For a second day running Chinese fight fans had a world title fight on CCTV 5, with the channel hosting the second of their Lunar New Year Cup shows.
Today's bout saw Japan's Etsuko Tada (16-3-2, 4) [多田 悦子] travel to Macau take on Chinese fighter Cai Zong Ju (9-1, 1) [蔡宗菊] in front of a partisan crowd. The fight started with Tada looking to establish her busy jab though the only real punch that had the crowd making any noise was a shot from the local favourite. Again in second round it was the champion trying to press the action, and it seemed that the only shots getting a reaction from the crowd were those from Ju, who did try to make the most of her jab from range, and single shots when openings arose.
With Tada trying to bring the aggressive pressure, and Jun doing her best to keep the fight at range, it did start as a frustrating affair to watch, with clean shots being at a premium for both fighters. Despite the lack of solid punches in the opening stages the bout was compelling viewing, with questions being whether Tada would be able to force her fight on to Ju, or whether Ju's movement would be too quick for the Japanese veteran
In round 4 was saw Tada manage to have some notable success in the early stages, bu Ju avoided being overwhelmed and began firing in some really sharp counters, stiffling Tada's momentum, and clinching when she had to. It was a well crafted game plan and one Ju continued to use through the middle rounds, forcing Tada to continually up the ante.
At times Ju seemed to do more holding than hitting, with round 6 having some notably frustrating moments, but it effectively took the sting out of Tada's assaults and when Ju did let her shots go they were often eye catching blows. The holding did however seem to come with Ju showing some signs of slowling down and being tired, things that helped Tada making the fight her fight and in round 7 it seemed like Tada was beginning to land the telling blows. Despite landing those notable shots she was in a hole and chasing the bout and that was clear again in round 8, another good one for the visitor.
Going into the final 2 rounds it seemed like Tada was on the acendancy whilst Cai was struggling with the pressure and aggressiveness of Tada. That was clearly seen in round 9, with Ju doing very little offensively, and again in round 10 as Tada looked to make a big statement whilst Ju looked to do her best to avoid a fight. It was another easy round to score to the defending champion, but wasn't the big round she needed to turn the bout around.
At the final bell the scorecards really were a bit strange. Two of the cards favoured the challenger, with scores of 98-92, scores that seemed too wide even if they did have the rightful winner. The third judge, remarkably, had Tada winning 98-92, a score that we simply have to question. Tada was always in the bout, and always had her moments, but she constantly struggled with Ju's movement in the early stages and came on just a bit too late.
Some are going to question why a main event between female minimumweights was fought in such a huge ring, to the credit of the promoter however, they got their fighter a big advantage here, giving Ju a lot of room to play with, and play with it she did as she moved through out and frustrated Tada in the early rounds. Ju will also be thankful for the fact females fight over 10 rounds, as she looked very tired in the later rounds.
With the win Ju claims her first world title, whilst Tada loses her IBF crown in her first defense and aged 35 Tada's best days are behind her. She might have one more run left, and might be looking to get a rematch with Ju in Japan, but she's not the fighter she once was.
Earlier today the WBC female Minimumweight champion Yuko Kuroki (17-4-1, 8) [黒木 優子] scored her 5th defense of the title as she defeated former champion Mari Ando (13-10, 6) [安藤 麻里] with a unanimous decision, just as she did when she won the title back in May 2014.
The exciting champion made made a perfect start winning the first round and then dropping Ando in round 2 to establish a clear lead. Ando however showed her fighting spriting and fought back hard to win round 3 and get a small foot hold in the fight. Sadly for Ando that success was short lived and she would be down for a second time in round 5 as Kuroki took a huge lead on the cards and left Ando with a lot to do.
Knowing she was well behidn Anod could have just folded, she didn't ever seem to have the power, strength or speed to worry Kuroki, instead however she bit down on her gum shield and refused to just give in. Instead she earned round 6 on all 3 cards, bouncing back well from the knockdown and did enough to claim a share of the later rounds as she gritted out a gutsy performance.
Despite the gutsy effort Ando was a clear loser with all 3 of the score cards reading 96-92 in favour of Kuroki.
After the bout Ando announced that she was retiring, and that she had given the bout her all, something that was clear to fans in the arena. With this being Ando's 5th defense attention may turn to the Japanese fighter facing more notable international names in the future with some tipping her to be one of the "faces" of female boxing over the coming years.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)