Just moments ago we saw a thrilling, hotly contest and all action female Flyweight bout as Japanese legend Naoko Fujioka (19-3-1, 7) [藤岡 奈穂子] faced off with Marlen Esparza (12-1, 1), for the WBA and WBC titles. Sadly the talking point after the bout wasn't on the action in the ring, which was fantastic, but instead on the judges, who failed both of the fighters.
The fight started fast and the first round was a very hotly contested one, with both fighters landing some fantastic shots in a hectic 2 minutes that flew by. After the first round Esparza began to use her feet, more, getting behind her jab, and made the slower, older, Fujioka fall short and stay at a safe range. This allowed Esparza to get into an early lead, something everyone was expecting.
In the middle rounds Esparza began to slow down, her jab went missing, and Fujioka began to close the distance, making the fight her fight. Up close and personal it was very much a Fujioka fight, as she hammered away at Esparza, out working her, out landing her, and wobbling her several times with huge right hands. Esparza had moments, but they were few and far between from round 5 to round 8 as Fujioka's work rate, tenacity, and hunger shone through.
To her credit Esparza gritted out some horrible moments, and in rounds 9 and 10 held her own, as she spoiled up close, and took advantage of the breaks. It was what she needed to potentially nick the fight. A fight that was incredibly close. Incredibly hotly contest, and incredibly badly scored as two judges had the bout 100-90 to Esparza, whilst the third had it 97-93 to Esparza, which is within the realms of sanity.
Sadly it wasn't just the judges who had issues here, but to did the referee, who seemed to miss a knockdown, by Esparza, in round 4, and allowed a lot holding from Esparza up close. It was really a horror show from the officials, and not for the only time on the card, as James Green complete messed up the bout between Paul Valenzuela Cuesta and Patrick Teixeira, DQ'qing Teixeria for a what seemed like an incidental rabbit punch.
Not a good day for officials in Texas.
Since turning professional Katie Taylor (20-0, 6) has been one of the faces of the new wave of female boxing, and certainly has helped women boxers get more attention and acknowledgement in the last few years. Sadly though her time at the top looks like it is number, despite the fact she retained her Undisputed Lightweight title earlier this evening, with a wide decision win over Kazakh challenger Firuza Sharipova (14-2, 8).
Early on Sharipova showed a lot of hunger as she looked to take the fight to Taylor in the opening round and let her shots. It was a nice start for the challenger, but as she looked like she was fighting with a lot of nervous energy. As that nervous energy dissipated she began to slow down, and by round 3 it seemed like Taylor was taking control of the bout at last. As the pace slowed Taylor managed to find the room for her straight shots, though she was neglecting her usually solid jab.
In round 5 the bout was becoming very scrappy, and messy with holding, head clashes and just general sloppiness. That resulted in Sharipova getting a cut from a clash of heads and being deducted a point in round 6 as the bout slipped away from the challenger. From there on Taylor seemed to do enough every round to take them, but she didn't look like the star we've become accustomed to seeing. In fact in round 8 she looked really tired, and she struggled to control the action at times, as both fighters showed their exhaustion.
In round we saw both women letting shots in what was the best round of the fight, with both landing clean, heavy shots late on. By then Taylor was in a comfortable lead, but she was willing to put on a show to finish the bout.
After 10 rounds Taylor took a clear decision, but it was, very much, a bout that seemed to show she wasn't the fighter she once was. She looked very much like a 35 year old, who is having her career, and her wars, catch up with her. We really do wonder if this win will be one of her last. After the win there was talk about a fight with Amanda Serrano in 2022, and whilst that is a great fight, it does feel like Taylor has perhaps aged to the point where she will actually be the under-dog.
As for Sharipova, we dare say she was flattered by Taylor not being the fighter she once was. And even then she was second best, by a long way.
Earlier today in South Korean fans had the chance to see long reigning WBA Super Featherweight champion Hyun Mi Choi (19-0-1, 5) score her 9th defense of her title as she stopped Brazilian challenger Simone Aparecida da Silva (17-17, 6), in what was a bit of a pointless match up.
The talented Korean, who had been hoping to unify against Terri Harper this year, was levels above the challenger from the off. In fact they didn't look like they belonged in the ring together with Da Silva looking very much like a fighter who wasn't even close to world class. Whilst her record was a good sign of her limitations, it didn't tell the full story and she had lost her previous 3, with her last win came at Super Bantamweight almost 2 years ago.
Choi controlled behind her jab, controlling the range and tempo of the bout against a challenger was in trouble numerous times through the bout, and even seemed scared of Choi's power at times, a worry given Choi is a noted non-puncher.
In round 9 the challenger was down twice, with the second knockdown forcing the referee to wave off the contest, giving Choi her first stoppage since she beat Siriwan Thongmanit in 2015, a fighter she stopped in 3 rounds in a none title bout and had previously been stopped by Choi in 2014. For those curious da Silva becomes the first fighter, other than Siriwan, that Choi has stopped since she beat Kittika Sithan back in 2011!
Whilst it was good to see Choi in action, real questions need to be asked of the WBA who have again allowed Choi to defend her title against a fighter totally unfit to face her. Her impressive record in world title fights, 18-0-1 (4) looks great but in recent years she lacks a win of note in a division that has got plenty of talented fighters in it. The WBA needs to sort out who they are green lighting for title shots as this is becoming a joke.
In the first of two female fights involving Japanese world champions we saw the legendary Naoko Fujioka (19-2-1, 7) [藤岡 奈穂子] retain her WBA Flyweight title with a brilliant performance against the teak tough and determined Sulem Urbina (12-2-0-1, 2).
Early on Urbina looked good, she looked younger, fresher and faster than Fujioka, who struggled to pin foe down at times. It was a really good start for Urbina, whilst making for a great action start, with both fighters forced to take some big shots. From round 3 however Fujioka began to get inside, and really began to work the body of Urbina, with combinations of hard body shots.
The body shots from Fujioka continued through the middle rounds of the fight as she began to break down Urbina, who's work rate began to drop off, massively. Urbina, who is well known for her toughness and work rate, was really taking a pounding through the middle rounds relying more on her toughness than anything else. There were moments where Urbina would land a good counter, but it did little more than slow Fujioka, who quickly resumed control.
The one brief break for Urbina was round 8, where she managed to land a handful of solid counter shots, but they weren't enough to get Fujioka's respect, with the Japanese warrior continuing to shake them off and come forward with a real warrior mentality. That mentality, and incredible work rate, saw her drown out Urbina in the final two rounds, as she put any doubt about the result to bed. Urbina always attempted to fight back, but simply couldn't cope with the volume, and the body shots from early in the bout played a major role through the final 60& of the bout.
After 10 rounds it seemed Urbina had been out worked, out fought, and despite her bravery and toughness she had been beaten. She had been game, and banked herself some early rounds, but had been clearly beaten through the middle and late rounds. We then went to the scorecards.
The first card was 95-95, about as generous to Urbina as you could possible get, then the second was 99-91 to Fujioka, about as generous to her as you could get, with the third being 96-94, a touch closer than we had it but the most accurate of the three cards, giving Fujioka the majority decision win on her US debut. This was a clear win for Fujioka, yet it was also a competitive bout with some great moments by both.
After the bout Fujioka and fellow Flyweight champion Marlen Esparza had a brief back and forth at ringside, complimenting each other and talking about a potential bout, something we may well see in the relatively near future.
For those missed this one, they missed out on a great performance by a legendary fighter, and an incredibly brave showing by a tough, TV friendly fighter. Together they gave us a very, very good fight, and the type of fight that female boxing needs more of. Exciting, two way action
Just moments ago we saw WBA female Super Featherweight champion Hyun Mi Choi (18-0-1, 4) [최현미] record her latest defense in a successful, and very entertaining, international debut as she defeated 32 year old Colombian challenger Calista Silgado (19-12-3, 14) in Florida as the chief support bout of a DAZN card.
Silgado started alright, and landed a nice jab very early on, but from there on Choi settled and won the rest of the round. Choi also looked good in the early part of round 2, hurting Silgado early in the round before the bell rang very early, in fact after about a minute of the round, cutting the already short 2-minute rounds even shorter, and potentially saved Silgado, who had looked hurt from a body shot earlier in the round.
From there Choi pressed the action, really fighting a lot more aggressive than she sometimes has in Korea. Instead of boxing and moving, as we have seen from her in the past, she was all out aggression here, trying to break down Silgado and take a TKO win. The aggression of Choi left her in harms way and she did take quite a few single shots, and counters from Silgado, but shook them off as if they were nothing through much of the bout.
Later in the bout Choi got a bit more sloppy defensively and she seemed to struggle at times in the later rounds, where Silgado caught her more frequently, but by then she was a long way ahead on the scorecards and just seeking a stoppage, to put the cherry on the top of her performance.
Sadly for Choi she was unable to finish off the Colombian, instead needing to take a clear 10 round decision on her US debut, with scores of 99-91, 98-92 and 97-93.
This wasn't best we've seen from Choi, but it was her most fan friendly bout. She ignored some of the tools in her arsenal and instead fought with the mentality of wanting to entertain and shine in her US debut, rather than fight safe. It made for an entertaining bout, but did see her take more shots than she really should have done. As for Silgado, credit it to her for surviving, and having moments, but we really should have seen Choi in with someone much, much better than Silgado, which would have given Choi a chance to show off her boxing skills, rather than trying to go out and score a stoppage, which isn't her typical style.
Earlier today Japanese fight fans in Tokyo had the chance to see the fifth show in the Victoriva series of shows. The card are all female shows, and today's co feature bout was a WBA Atomweight title unification contest between "interim" champion Ayaka Miyao (23-8-1, 6) [宮尾 綾香] and the WBA regular champion Monseratt Alcaron (13-4-2).
Originally this bout was pencilled in to take place last November, but was cancelled when Alcaron was forced out with an injury. Today however we saw the two put on an ultra-competitive, but sadly for the local fans it wasn't to be for Miyao.
The opening round was a good one for Miyao, who's speed seemed to bother Alcaron. Sadly though it wasn't long until Alcaron found her footing in the bout and she swept rounds 2 to 4 on all 3 cards. The Mexican had taken the lead with her pressure, and although she seemed to struggle to land really hurtful blows her aggression was impressing the judges.
Strangely the judges really struggled to agree on things after round 4, with only 2 of the last 6 rounds have complete agreement from the judges. They were either caught up with the aggression and pressure of Alcaron or the speed and movement of Miyao. From the last 6 rounds one judge gave the Mexican rounds 5 through to 9, whilst another gave Miyao everything in the second half, other than round 6. It was the third scorecard that was the most interesting, giving Alcaron rounds 5,6 and 9 and Miyao rounds 7,8 and 10. The only rounds all 3 agreed with was rounds 6, to Alcaron, and 10, to Miyao.
Although the judges were obviously seeing different things to each other what they were all seeing was a high tempo fight between fighters with styles that just gelled really well and made for an action bout. Sadly for Miyao however the success of Alcaron in the first half was essentially the difference and after 10 rounds the Mexican was declared the winner of a split decision, with scores of 98-92 and 96-94 in her favour against a score of 96-94 for Miyao.
At the moment it's unclear what is next for the two. Miyao would likely be very interested in a rematch, and a chance to avenge this loss, though Eri Matsuda, who picked up a win on the under-card, may also be interested in favour Alcaron for the WBA title. Alcaron on the other hand might prefer to go back to Mexico and build at home from this win.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
Today there was two world title fights in Osaka, as the boxing world turned it's attention to Japan. What wasn't given much attention however was a Japanese card in Tokyo, headlined by a female world title bout between WBA female Flyweight champion Naoko Fujioka (18-2-1, 7) [藤岡 奈穂子] and Tenkai Tsunami (26-12-1, 15) [天海 ツナミ].
This was a bout that seemed to be pitting two of the greats of Japanese female boxing against other, and delivered the hidden gem of the week with an incredibly hotly contest 10 round affair at Korakuen Hall.
The younger, though more experienced, Tsunami got off to a great start. She managed to dictate the pace, using a good sharp right hand to help her dictate the distance and tempo of the bout in the early going. It was this game plan that saw her race into the lead on all 3 cards, leading 40-37 and 40-36, twice, after 4 rounds. She was making Fujioka look old, slow and clumsy, and putting on the sort of performance that many knew she was capable of, but hadn't shown on a regular basis.
As we've seen so many times through her career however Fujioka wasn't going to just sit back, hand over her title and lose. Instead she bit down on her gum shield, refuse to accept defeat, and began to turn the fight around in round 5, then starting a serious fight back, clawing back round after round. She showedthe determined doggendess of a champion and forced the action on to Tsunami, upping her out put and grabbing the bout by the collar. The change in attitude from Fujioka was incredible, and saw her doing just enough to retain he title, with a split decision draw.
After 10 rounds the judges had the bout 96-95 Fujioka, 96-94 Tsunami and 95-95, with Fujioka holding on to her title by the skin of her teeth, in a fantastic 10 round female bout, that certainy deserved more attention than it got on a great day for Japanese fight fans.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Earlier today in Korea fight fans saw Hyun Mi Choi (17-0-1, 4) [최현미] record her 7th defense of the WBA female Super Featherweight title, with a clear decision over Japanese challenger Wakako Fujiwara (8-3-2, 2) [藤原芽子] in Incheon.
The talented Choi was under pressure early on as Fujiwara looked to make a fast start and seemed to surprise the champion in the first couple of rounds. Sadly though it didn't take long for Choi to find her timing and her rhythm and from there on it was rather easy for the Korean.
Choi would establish her her range and begin to use her youth, speed and technical ability in round 3, and would essentially control the bout from there on, making Fujiwara look like a game but out classed challenger for much of the bout. Fujiwara, to her credit, always looked to make a fight of it, but was simply second best following her sprightly start.
With Fujiwara looking to fight hard there was always the potential for head clashes, and in round 9 the Japanese challenger was deducted a point for a head clash. The deduction didn't really make much of a difference to the out-come, with the judges scoring the bout in Choi's favour 98-91, 97-92 and 96-93.
For Fujiwara this was a good effort, but not good enough to over-come the unbeaten 2-weight world champion. For Choi the bout continues her run at world level, and hopefully she will get stiffer tests in the near future.
Earlier today at the Korakuen Hall fight fans saw Ayaka Miyao (23-7-1, 6) [宮尾 綾香] finally over-come Nao Ikeyama (18-5-3, 5) [森脇恵子], in what was their third meeting, to claim the WBA "interim" Atomweight title.
The bout, which came about when regular champion Monseratt Alcarron (11-4-2) was forced to pull out of a clash with Miyao, had a good sense of history behind it. In their first bout, years ago, Ikeyama had stopped a then fresh faced Miyao, whilst in 2016 Miyao was stopped again after suffering a freak leg injury. It was clear they had unfinished business from their 2016 clash, and both wanted to use this bout to put the final chapter in their rivalry.
The fight saw the 35 year old Miyao using her feet and boxing well on her toes, using her significant edge in speed to out box the much older Ikeyama, who at the age of 49 really has impressed in her longevity but has slowed significantly in recent bouts. The speed of Miyao and her energy and work rate, as ever, impressed as she made Ikeyama look slow and clumsy, dropping her in the first round, en route to a clear 10 round decision, with scores of 97-92, twice, and 96-93 in favour of Miyao.
We're expecting Miyao to now face Alcarron in 2019, whilst Ikeyama is almost certainly going to be retiring.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
This past Saturday in Switzerland fans had the chance to see Swiss based Japanese fighter Aniya Seki (34-4-2, 5) fight in the most significant bout of her career. The veteran took on WBA female Super Flyweight champion Maribel Ramirez (13-9-2, 3) and unfortunately she came up short, losing a clear decision to the Mexican fighter.
Ramirez took control of center ring and from the opening moments and scored a knockdown in round 2 that really allowed her to take clear early control of the bout.
To her credit the 39 year old Seki didn't just roll over and instead she fought back, though was always on the back foot and regularly came off second best to the under-rated Mexican champion.
At the end of the 10 round bout there was no doubting that the Mexican had won, and the judges, from Switzerland, France and Spain, all scored the bout to Ramirez with scores of 98--91, twice, and 97-92.
Sadly it's unlikely Seki will get another shot at the top, but for Ramirez this was a great win. She made her first defense and has now scored notable back-to-back wins on the road, having won the title in Peru this past May by defeating Linda Laura Lecca.
(Image courtesy of www.20min.ch)