Age seems to be a talking point in boxing right now. Last weekend the 37 year old Floyd Mayweather retained his unified Welterweight titles and this past Friday the 39 year old Omar Andres Narvaez retained his WBO Super Flyweight title. Those two fighters seem like little boys however when compared to Japanese veteran Nao Ikeyama (15-3-1, 4) who retained her WBO Atomweight title earlier today with a narrow and hard fought decision over fellow Japanese fighter Masae Akitaya (9-5-2, 3).
Despite her age Ikeyama looked like a ball of energy and fought the entire contest at an unbelievable. This was simply too much for Akitaya who was dropped in round 2 and generally forced to fight off the back foot.
The challenger, a relative spring chicken at "only" 36, tried to answer back and often succeeded with slightly more crisp and accurate work though at the end of the day she was simply unable to meet Ikeyama's pace. As a result the champion took a unanimous decision to retain her title.
With the win Ikeyama became one of the oldest champions in history to defend a world title. She might not quite have matched Bernard Hopkins but she has hit the form of her career and with performances like there is a chance she could retain that title for quite a while. She might not be classically skilled but with her relentlessness she's going to be very difficult to beat.
As for Akitaya she actually made history as she became to first fighter to fail in title efforts at all 3 Atomweight titles. This loss has followed a technical draw with the indomitable Momo Koseki and a loss to the all-action Ayaka Miyao and unfortunately it seems likely she will become one of those fighters who never gets over the line and never becomes a world champion despite fighting a number of fights at the top level.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)