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 first of 3 world title bouts being held at the Ota City General Gymnasium today saw Japan's Miyo Yoshida (14-1) [吉田 実代] successfully defending her WBO female Super Flyweight title, as she comfortably out pointed and out landed Chinese challenger Li Ping Shi (5-3, 2).
From the opening moments it was Yoshida looking to close the distance, slipping the jab of Shi, getting up close and working away. When up close Yoshida made the most of the opportunities to bang the drum, slowly grinding down at Shi's will and desire.
Having proven the boss up close Yoshida then began to dominate the battle of the jabs as well, out boxing Shi with her own jab. Whilst Shi had the edge in reach it was the accuracy, timing and snap on Yoshida's that was the difference maker. Sadly for Shi the battles she was expected to come out on top of, weren't going her way and there was little she could do to turn things around, as Yoshida continued to rack up the rounds.
It wasn't really until round 9 that Shi really changed things around, letting her hands go more. Sadly for Shi she was now too tired to do much in terms of actually turning the fight around.
After 10 rounds we went to the scorecards, and there was never any question on the winner, with Yoshida taking the decision 99-90, 98-91 and 97-92 and recording her first defense.
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)
Earlier today in Chiba Japanese female fighter Miyo Yoshida (13-1) [吉田 実代] claimed her third professional title, the WBO female Super Flyweight title, as she out pointed Casey Morton (8-2-3, 1) over 10-rounds, in what was a totally one-sided fight.
The naturally bigger Yoshida took control from the opening round using her speed and movement to neutralise Morton, who looked game but out of her depth. The jab of Morton was failing to land clean, and when it did it did little to slow the Japanese fighter who got inside as and when she wanted.
Morton was well behind as we entered the middle section of the fight, but she tried to turn things around in round 4. Sadly the Morton tried, and the more she upped her work rate the worse her defenses got and she was being tagged at regularly by the light but sharp punching Yoshida. Sadly Morton had no answer, she couldn't up the tempo without taking more shots, she couldn't win the bout defensively and she couldn't battle toe-to-toe with Yoshida, who was quicker, stronger and and more technically sharp.
Morton continued to try new things, but she was never really able to establish her fight, with one judge giving her the 9th round in what seemed a decision made from sympathy of her effort than much else.
After 10 rounds the judges had the bout scored 100-90, 100-90 and 99-91 to Yoshida, who has now added a world title to her collection that previously included a Japanese and OPBF title. For Morton this is a second loss at Super Flyweight and it feels really obvious that she should be competing at Flyweight, not Super Flyweight.
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 in Kyoto saw the WBO Atomweight title change hands, as veteran Nao Ikeyama (18-4-3, 5) [池山直] was dethroned by the unheralded Mika Iwakawa (8-5-1, 3) [岩川美花] in a thrilling 10 round war.
The 48 year old champion, who had held the title for more than 4 years, was expected to secure her 7th defense and score her second win over Iwakawa. Instead however Iwakawa came out on top of a pulsating back and forth battle that left fans knowing the two fighters had given their all.
Iwakawa got off to a good start, taking the opening round with her work rate, in the second Ikeyama came back managing to control the distance slightly better before the fight just became an all out, tit-for-tat battle of attrition.
The difference between the two seemed to be the variation of Iwakawa, who effectively switched her stances in round 4, and gave Ikeyama a lot to think about then showed her defense a few rounds later when Ikeyama tried to take control of the action, and she did rock Iwakawa who bounced back and recovered amazingly well
With neither giving an inch the crowd were on their feet in the final round as the two fighters delivered the grandstand finale. Sadly for Ikeyama however it wasn't to be enough, with Iwakawa taking a split decision, with two cards of 96-94 in her favour whilst the dissenting judge had it 96-94 in favour of Ikeyama.
After the bout Ikeyama made it clear she would be retiring, but wanted to stay involved in the sport making it sound like she would either work at, or set up, a gym. As for the new champion she spoke about wanting to unify titles and inherit the strength of Ikeyama, who's late career surge really was impressive.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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)
Last night in Germany fight fan saw Japan's Tamao Ozawa (13-5, 5) [小澤瑶生] put on a stirring performance, but come up agonisingly short against German veteran Raja Amasheh (21-1-1-1, 4) in a bout for the vacant WBO female Super Flyweight title.
The details from the contest are scarce but officially the bout was scored 96-94 to Amasheh by all 3 judges, in what sounds like a very debabteable decision.
From what we understand Ozawa was aggressive through out, and took the fight to Amasheh, though with the crowd behind the local fighter it wasn't to be for the visitor, who is now 0-2 in world title bouts, having previously lost to Su Yun Hong in a Light Flyweight title fight. As for Amasheh the bout sees her secure a career defining win, though it would like her reign will e a short lived one, given she only just managed to get the win here.
Ozawa will clearly go back to the drawing board wnd will likely look for another world title fight, though the former OPBF female champion will know that she won't get many more shots following two recent losses at the top level, even though both were very close decisions on the score cards.
(Image courtesy of Futur Gym)
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)