Earlier today fans in Saitama saw female IBF Light Flyweight champion Naoko Shibata (16-3-1, 5) [柴田 直子] narrowly retain her title with a razor thin majority decision against Mexican challenger Maria Salinas (11-5-3, 4).
The two women had fought last year fighting to a split decision draw with both fighters looking to over-come that stale-mate today. Unsurprisingly however both fought in a really competitive match again today with neither really managing to establish their dominance over the other.
The challenger started well, landing several solid shots to Shibata and also seemed to take round 2 before Shibata fought back in rounds 3 and 4 as she began to up the work the rate and pressure. In round 5 Shibata seemed to have a real break through getting Salinas on the ropes but Salinas saw off the threat and fought back in rounds 6, 7 and 8 before put under pressure again in round 9 with Shibata looking to keep the result out of the judges hands.
Salinas saw out the storm of round 9 and her toughness saw her see out the final round, though the judges viewed her as second best, losing the majority decision with scores of 96-94, to Shibata twice, and 95-95.
For Shibata the defence was her 5th but it's fair to say she won't be inviting Salinas over for a third bout given very little has split them over 20 rounds.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Earlier today the Japanese fans at the Korakuen Hall managed to catch their third female world title fight in the less than a week. This time around however the fight fans in attendance got a thriller as two well matched fighters really took it too each other in a real thriller.
The bout in question saw IBF Female Light Flyweight champion Naoko Shibata (14-3-1, 4) successfully retain her title as she fought to a thrilling draw with Maria Salinas (11-4-3, 4).
From the off it was Salinas, the much shorter fighter, who was bringing the action and taking the fight to Shibata as she found her way inside and set the tempo. The aggression of Salinas was impressive and early on it did look like she was either going to break down Shibata or blow herself out.
The start was a dream for Salinas but by the middle rounds she was slowing down and Shibata was beginning to come back into the fight and it was during those middle rounds that the two fighters really engaged in the best 2-way action of the fight. It was also the time when Shibata began her fight back.
In the end the action of the later rounds really left the fight close and that showed on the cards with the judges scoring the bout 96-94, 95-95 and 95-96 leading to a split decision draw.
Given the great performance of Salinas it would seem great for her to get a rematch, something she deserves, though we wouldn't be surprised by Shibata doing her best to avoid a rematch.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)