Earlier today fight fans at Korakuen Hall saw a new IBF Atomweight champion being crowned, as veteran Ayaka Miyao (25-9-2, 6) [宮尾綾香] showed her class, and experience in over-coming talented novice Eri Matsuda (4-1-1, 1) [松田恵里] in a very hotly contested bout for the previously vacant title.
The match up was a wonderful clash of styles, mentalities and experience. In one corner was an experienced veteran, who relied on work rate, speed, and guts. In the other corner was a polished, but inexperienced boxer, who had come through the amateur ranks and been moved very quickly as a professional. These really did set the stage for something very interesting to watch.
Early on Matsuda looked to keep things long, box behind her jab and footwork, and spoil when Miyao got close. For Miyao the game plan was based around using her feet, picking her moments, landing flurries and combinations and having raiding attacks on the more static Matsuda. Early on the styles war was won by Miyao, with the judges all having her up early on, in fact the judges had her up 39-37, across the board, after 4 rounds.
In the middle rounds Miyao began to slow down, her tempo dropping and her legs starting to look like those of a 38 year old fighter. With her movement slowing it allowed Matsuda a great chance to dictate things and control the action with her straight shots landing more regularly than they had earlier in the bout. From round 5 she really fought her way back into things and seemed to be taking advantage of being the younger, fresher fighter. Miyao however knew she had the experience of going long into bouts, and knew how to keep things in the tank., stealing the odd round or two from the middle of the bout, and stopping Matsuda from building to much momentum.
In the later stages Miyao was tiring, and had to hold and spoil more as her legs began to show their age. This resulted in Matsuda really having a good finish, particularly in round 10, and left the bout really close as we went to the judges.
The scorecards, sadly for Matsuda, didn't go her way, with one card of 95-95, being over-ruled by scores of 96-94, from both of the other judges, resulting in a majority decision win for Miyao, who adds the IBF title to her collection of career silverware, which also includes a WBA title from earlier in her career.
Earlier today at Korakuen Hall we saw a new WBO Atomweight world champion being crowned as Nanae Suzuki (11-4-1, 1) [鈴木菜々江] dethroned Mika Iwakawa (10-6-1, 3) [岩川 美花], in a rematch of a bout from 2020.
In their first bout Iwakawa showed her boxing skills early on, but Suzuki came on strong as the bout went on, and arguably did enough to claim the win back then. Notably neither fighter had fought since that bout, and at 38 it was assumed Iwakawa had potentially started to age coming into this bout. That was proven to be true pretty early on, as Iwakawa's movement and footwork from their first bout was absent here early on. Instead of Iwakawa boxing and moving, she was dragged into a was immediately, from a hungry and determined Suzuki.
The challenger didn't land much in terms of quality, but got off to the start she would have wanted, making Iwakawa fighter her fight. That continued through much of the bout, and although Iwakawa tried to spoil at times, and fought back hard, her well rounded boxing skills were pretty much absent. To her credit however Iwakawa bounced back from a tough opening round to have success in rounds 2, 3 and 4 thanks to her cleaner, more accurate work.
With the pace being as intense as it was, and it really was a high tempo start to the fight, the question was how long could Iwakawa's legs keep up the pace. In round 5 the tempo began to catch up with the defending champion, and Suzuki out worked her through much of the middle part of the fight, using volume to catch the eye and neutralise the quality of Iwakawa.
The strong middle rounds for Suzuki saw her take a lead, before she began to get sloppy, giving Iwakawa a chance to finish strong, and have the space she needed to show her boxing skills. By then however it was too little too late for the defending champion.
After 10 rounds the bout went to the judges. It was clear the fight was close, and had swung back and forth, but it seemed Suzuki had done enough, a view shared by two of the judges, who gave her the bout 96-94, with Iwakawa getting the same score from the dissenting judge.