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.