The first reign by a Vietnamese world champion was a short one, which ended last night as Thi Thu Nhi Nguyen (5-1, 1) lost the WBO female Minimumweight title in her first defense, coming up short in a unification bout against excellent Costa Rican fighter Yokasta Valle (26-2, 9), who added the WBO title to her own IBF belt.
Nguyen, who had been lucky to win the title with a questionable decision over Etsuko Tada, really never got into this one as Valle dominated almost every minute of the fighter. The Costa Rican local, fighting in front of her own fans in San Jose, Costa Rica, out fought, out boxed, outsped, out thought and out punched the Vietnamese visitor, who struggled to get anything going.
From pretty much the first round Valle fought like a fighter with a point to prove, finding a home for her quicker, sharper shots, especially her over hand right which landed time and time again. The success from Valle forced Nguyen to chase the bout at times, and that's never been something she's good at. As she chased and tried to turn things around the defense of Valle had a chance to shine, making Nguyen miss, or hit shoulders, before Valle began firing back combinations.
As the rounds went on there was little to celebrate for Nguyne, who looked second rate through out the bout. The only real moments of sustained success for her came in round 9, though even that wasn't enough to secure her a round and seemed more a care of Nguyen giving everything that was left and having more success than expected, rather than really doing enough to win the round. It was the only one someone could have given her, and it would have been something of a sympathy round at that.
After 10 rounds it was clear this wasn't close, and it was no surprise at all that the judges all turned in shut out scores in favour of the local champion who now has two titles around her waist, and takes another step towards a legacy defining rematch with Tina Rupprecht.
Last night Sana Hazuki (8-6-1, 2) got her second world title shot as she took on Yokasta Valle (24-2, 9), who had beaten her in early 2021, in a bout for Valle's IBF female Minimumweight title. Sadly much like their first bout the contest was a one sided one on the score-cards, though it was also a very entertaining one. Through the contest it was very clear that Valle was the more talented, the quicker and the sharper fighter, but Hazuki's grit, determination and will to win made things entertaining through out.
Valle jumped out quick to start the bout, but within a minute Hazuki was trying to put Valle on the back foot, which saw some really good back and forth exchanges. Sadly though exchanges, on the whole, all seemed to favour Valle who was quicker, more accurate and landed the better shots whilst Hazuki threw plenty that landed on the arms or missed completely.
As the rounds went on it was hard to give Hazuki anything, but she was determined to have her moments, and she did just that. Albeit moments that were quickly over-shadowed by the better quality work of Valle who picked apart a tiring, but aggressive, Hazuki in the later rounds using good foot work, accurate counters and some lovely counter shots.
After 10 rounds Valle had clearly won, and was awarded the win with scores of 100-90 across the board, with all 3 judges giving the local hero the bout without giving the challenger even a sympathy, which they could have done had they felt generous and not affected the result.
For Hazuki this is likely to be her last world title bout, but she should still be a very serious fixture on the domestic and regional scene. Her style makes for fun fights and whilst she is limited she is fan friendly. Something that she has proven repeatedly over the years.
As for Valle, the future needs to be focused on unification bouts. Whilst the obvious call is a bout with WBA Seniesa Estrada, that seems like a really bad choice for for Valle. What seems more likely is a bout with WBC champion Christina Rupprecht, who holds a 2018 win over Valle, especially given this was planned as bout for early 2021 before mandatory obligations prevented the two from facing off in an anticipated rematch.
Earlier today we saw the WBO female Minimumweight title change hands as Japanese veteran Etsuko Tada (20-4-3, 7) [多田悦子] was dethroned, in somewhat controversial fashion, by mandatory challenger Thi Thu Nhi Nguyen (5-0, 1), from Vietnam.
In the opening round Tada was the one to establish herself in the middle of the ring whilst Nguyen got on the move, and used the ring more, getting a look at Tada, and using her speed and youth well.
From round 2 onwards Nguyen decided to hold her feet more, with the two fighters often exchanging shots in nice little moments of back and forth action. Those exchanges were really dominated by two things, Nguyen's left hand, which was landing in both jab and left hook forms, and Tada's straight left hand, which was less accurate but much more telling. Through much of the fight it was those two punches that really caught the eye and kept the action competitive looking.
Of course straight left hands, from a hard hitting southpaw, do mark than pitty patty jabs, and it seemed that whilst Nguyen was landing more shots, she wasn't doing much damage, or getting respect from Tada, who seemed to always have the bigger words in the exchanges. It was however not a clear and dominant start for Tada, given she was being out landed.
As the rounds went on the tempo slowly increased, with both women picking it up. The lead to Tada's heavy left hands hurting Nguyen several times in the final rounds of the bout, though Nguyen's toughness showed as she saw out the storm and fired back. She was clearly hurt in rounds 9 and 10, but gritted it out, and managed to see out the distance.
After the final bell all 3 judges all turned in identical scores of 96-94, in favour of Nguyen who got the decision.
It should be noted that the promoter of the event was Nguyen's promoter, and whilst she certainly had a strong start to the fight, from round 2 to 5, it did seem like she was very lucky to get the victory. Especially given how well Tada finished the bout.
Whilst it can be easy to feel sorry for Tada it should be noted that Nguyen actually created history, becoming the first Vietnamese world champion, male or female, in the sport. With that in mind we really hope she can help lay down the marker for the Vietnamese boxing scene, and help kick start a legitimate movement in the country.
Last night in Costa Rica fans had the chance to see the aggressive Sana Hazuki (8-5-1, 2) [葉月さな] get her first world title fight, as she challenged IBF Minimumweight champion Yokasta Valle (21-2, 9).
For Hazuki this was a career defining opportunity, though she was, obviously, the under-dog against an incredibly talented Valle, despite that she went over to Costa Rica with hunger and desire and that showed against a champion looking to record her second defense.
From the early going Hazuki was on the front foot, trying to attack Valle and pressing. Sadly however Valle's skills, counter punching, speed and timing were a massive difference and she neutralised Hazuki's pressure and made her pay for her ambition and aggression. Hazuki never stopped trying to bring the attack, but she lacked the nuance and skills to make her aggression pay, whilst Valle outboxed her, out skilled her and won round after round.
After 10 rounds there no faulting Hazuki's effort, but there was also no way to give her more than a round or two. That was shown on the scorecards, with two judges having it a 10 round shut out to the local star, and the third judge having it a little bit closer at 98-92.
After the bout Hazuki told the Japanese media "I didn't feel the power, but the height of the opponent was shorter than I expected and it was difficult to do. Even if I hit the punch, I felt the difference in career because of the quick judgment to turn to defense."
As for the future, Hazuki suggested that she was unsure if she would continue her career. It would be sad to see this be the end of her career, but at the age of 36 it's clear time is ticking on her career and if she bows out now, it's at least on the back of a world title fight.
Earlier today at Korakuen Hall we saw a new WBO female Minimumweight champion being crowned as Etsuko Tada (20-3-3, 7) [多田悦子] stopped Ayaka Miyao (23-9-2, 6) [宮尾 綾香] to claim the previously vacant title. In the process she went on to reclaim the title she had previously held in 2018/2019, before she vacated it.
The bout was a much anticipated one, after the two women fought to a draw back in January, and it was expected to be another hotly contested bout. That was despite the two fighters having hampered preparation for this bout, with Miyao admitting she had essentially not been able to spar or the bout.
Within seconds of the bout starting the two women had clashed heads. Miyao's head down aggression and Tada's southpaw stance did not made for good bedfellows. Despite the headclash neither woman was cut and instead we quickly got down to action with Miyao ploughing forward and Tada looking to play the roll of the counter puncher in center ring. The most eye catching single shots seemed to come from the quicker Miyao, though they did often just bounce off Tada, who looked the bigger, stronger fighter and had more success in the exchanges.
The second round saw Miyao using her speed more intelligently, making Tada miss and countering well, rather than standing in the pocket for too long. It was a good game plan, but an energy sapping one, and one that should couldn't maintain as Tada went on to wins rounds 3 and 4, establishing the early control of the bout. That was helped in part by her physicality and strength, and Miyao certainly got the worse from a headclash very early in round 4.
To her credit Miyao showed no quit and came back strongly in the fifth round landing a number of good, solid right hooks, but in the end she still couldn't budge Tada, who looked the much more imposing and sturdy fighter in the ring. That was shown even more in round 6 when Tada began to force a war on Miyao, increasing her pressure and aggression, whilst also firing off very stiff southpaw jabs. Miyao, to her credit, tried to make things messy, but it was a lot of effort from the former WBA Atomweight champion.
After 8 good rounds of action it seemed we were well on our way to another decision between these well matched, world class ladies. That was until the very early moments of round 9 when Tada landed one of the best punches of her career and sent Miyao down face first, with the referee quickly waving the bout off. The show, a short counter straight left hand was landed perfectly and Miyao's own momentum resulted in her face first impact.
Currently it's unclear what the future will hold for the two women, though we wouldn't be surprised if the end was night for both women. Tada will be 40 in May and Miyao is already 37 years old, so both ladies are old, and both have slipped from being the fighters they once were. Saying that however it does sound like Tada wants at least 1 more fighter before hanging up the gloves.
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)