It's not often a female fight can genuinely get the attention of a filled venue but that's exactly what happened earlier today as Japanese boxing had one of the few major female fights of the year.
In one corner we had the destructive and big hitting Naoko Yamauchi (22-4-3, 18), the defending WBA Super Flyweight champion, in the other we had Naoko Fujioka (11-0, 6), a fighter who was jumping up from Minimumweight where she had previously held the WBC title.
The general view seemed to be that Yamaguchi went in to this bout as the power puncher whilst Fujioka would be the cautious fighter using her movement and speed to try and over-come Yamaguchi's natural strength and power. What we got however was a masterclass of boxing from Fujioka who showed all the skills of a genuine elite level fighter.
From the opening round it was obvious that these two were in totally different classes. Fujioka, boxing and moving, was landing her jab, her straight and her hook almost at will. It was obvious that she was wary of Yamaguchi's much vaunted power, especially in the defending champion's right hand, though she was avoiding it with ease before firing back her own shots.
As the rounds went on Fujioka became more and more confident. She continued to land her shots at will but became less and less worried about the power of Yamaguchi, in fact when they did trade it was Fuijioka's power that had the lasting effect and not Yamaguchi's with Fujioka scoring a knockdown in round 3 as she continued to dominate.
Whilst Yamaguchi was struggling to land her punches round 4 did see her hurting Fujioka, albeit from a headclash which was one of the few times we saw Fujioka in any sort of pain at all. Unfortunately for Yamaguchi she was punished by Fujioka for the clash of heads and staggered late in the round.
By round 7 it appeared that Fujioka was set on taking Yamaguchi out. The challenger had Yamaguchi staggering several times as she hunted a second knockdown though Yamaguchi showed great heart in seeing out the storm and hearing the bell. By then though the fight was a lost cause.
After a strong Fujioka round in the eighth it really was all over barring Yamaguchi scoring a knockout, something that had seemingly become impossible due to the fact Fujioka took her shots so well. Despite that Yamaguchi did manage to arguably claim the final two rounds which included a scrappy round 9 and a good back-and-forth round 10.
By the time we got to the final bell there was only ever one winner. With or with out the knockdown Fujioka had clearly taken the decision and the title as she scored arguably the most notable victory of her career and took home her shiny new title.
-The official scores were 98-91, 97-92, 97-92. We had it 98-91.