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.
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.