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.
Last night in Mexico Japan's Chaoz Minowa (6-2, 5) [チャオズ箕輪] challenged WBC female Flyweight champion Ibeth Zamora Silva (30-6, 12), in a bout that turned out a lot more competitive than the records of the fighters would have suggested.
Minowa, a former Japanese amateur standout who had fallen short in a previous world title shot, travelled to Mexico with real ambition and that showed from the opening moments. Minowa showed no fear of Zamora's reputation as one of the best female fighters in the sport. Instead she took the fight to the Mexican, landing her jabs and straight right hands in the early going.
Sadly for Minowa her good start couldn't be maintained and by the end of round 3 Zamora was finding her groove, and attacking the body, holding her own with the challenger. The challenger would begin to slow from round 5 and the Mexican would begin to take over the contest as the bout went on, running off the clear with her high tempo and aggression.
By the end of the 10th round it was easy to forget Minowa's good start. She had always been in the bout, but after the good start she could never quite turn the screw whilst Zamora's experience over the championship distance paid off, earning the champion the win with scores of 97-93, from all 3 judges.
For the Mexican this was her first successful defense of the title whilst Minowa is now 0-2 in world title fights. Despite the loss Minowa proved that she belong at this level and we expect to see her in another world title fight in 2019.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Late on Saturday night in Mexican fight fans had the chance to see two of the top female fighters face off in a bout that promised a lot, but really failed to deliver.
The bout in question saw 3-weight world champion Naoko Fujioka (15-2, 6) [藤岡 奈穂子] battle against WBC female Flyweight champion Jessica "Kika" Chavez (28-4-3, 4) in a bout that was plagued by negative tactics, poor officiating and a frustrating amount of holding from a champion who often looked afraid to fight and preferred to spoil than actually box, fight or punch. That was despite the fact Chavez is an extremely talented boxer who was much quicker than Fujioka.
Before the fight it seemed like Fujioka knew the score and stating, clearly, that she was hunting a stoppage. She seemed to be aware that if the bout went the distance she would struggle to get the rub of the green, what she may not have anticipated was how difficult it would be to have luck inside the actual ring.
The opening round was a good one for the challenger, who found her range and had the champion on the back foot from the early going. It seemed clear by the end of the round that Chavez wasn't wanting to fight with the visitor and was relatively worried by the physical aspect of Fujioka's game. That worry was more evident through round 2 when Chavez made the action frustratingly stop-start with a lot of spoiling, holding and general negative tactics. It was a way to neutralise the power of Fujioka but she failed to really ever attack her self with only a single flurry in the second round.
The holding continued through much of the rest of the fight and by the end of round 4 it was clear that the tactic had frustrated and unsettled the challenger, with the referee basically allowing the champion to hold every time the two were close. Not only was Chavez able to get away with the holding but she was also able to get a way with a shot on the break in round 4 and seemed happy to use frequent headlocks through the fight. Chavez, when she let her hands go, had success but the reality was that she seemed happier to hold than to actually fight which made a sloppy fight sloppier whilst Fujioka looked for a KO shot with everything she threw, landing some and missing others.
It wasn't until round 6 that Chavez seemed happy to actually have an exchange, in fact there was several through the round. One of which saw the fighters heads collide with Fujioka going down following the head clash. Despite the referee having a great view of the action he called it a legitimate knockdown, securing a 10-8 round for the home fighter who had been leading on 2 of the cards when the open scoring kicked in at the end of round 4, opening up a wider lead with the knockdown call.
The headlocks returned in round 7 ad the bout broke down into a real mess of a contest with more holding and clinching than punching. It was ridiculous that the referee seemed to do nothing about the action, or lack of, an gave neither fighter any warning about the holding which had destroyed a bout that promised a lot. Despite destroying the "fight" it was a tactic that had impressed the judges who all had Chavez leading after 8 rounds, with cards of 78-73, twice, and 77-74. It was clear that Fujioka would need a KO in the final 2 rounds.
Fujioka had some great success in round 9, a round in which she managed to shake up Chavez on two occasions, but follow up attacks were thwarted by the spoiling of the champion who saw out the round, and was inexplicably given the round by at least one of the judges. Fujioka's hunt for the KO continued into the final round, but it was clear she wasn't going to get it, the best she got was the referee finally deducting a point for holding from Chavez, to give the challenger a 10-8 round. By then however it was too little too late.
At the final bell Fujioka's frustrations were clear, as was the result, with Chavez taking the unanimous decision with cards of 95-93, 94-93 and 96-92. Cards that ended up looking close, due to the eventual point deduction. Were it not for the awful refereeing of the contest however we could have had a very, very, different outcome.
For Chavez the victory further enhances her great legacy. The performance may have been an embarrassing one for such an amazing boxer, but that doesn't change the result and it adds Fujioka's name to the other great names that litter her record, and it also sees her making the 4th defense of her title. When she let her hands go she looked the world class fighter that we all know she is, unfortunately those moments were few and far between with more spoiling than fighting from the Mexican star.
For Fujioka it's a second failed attempt at a Flyweight title title, and the second loss in a close bout on the road at the weight. It's fair to say that she may not decide to take the next offer to face a champion on the road after this bout, and although she failed to become Japan's first 4-weight world champion we suspect she'll continue to hunt a Flyweight title before hanging up her gloves.
Japanese fighter Shindo Go (14-3, 9) must be wondering why she ever breaks out her passport. This past weekend the Japanese fighter lost WBC female Flyweight title by split decision to Mexico's Arely Mucino (21-2-2, 10). This was Go's second fight outside of Japan and her second narrow loss in bouts on the road.
The Japanese fighter started slowly here and seemed to be showing ill effects of the travel. It was a disappointing start that saw her in a hole very early in the bout. It was an unnecessary hole but one she had, effectively, dug for herself by staying in neutral through the first few rounds whilst Mucino got off to a great start.
In the middle of the fight Go finally got going and started to rack up the points as she began a very spirited fight back and seemed to Mucino in the 8th round. Sadly however the Japanese fighter was unable to force the stoppage at that point and the opportunity never arose again for the defending champion.
Having started as slowly as she did it was clear that Go had made life hard for herself though a card of 99-91 in favour of the Mexican was a frankly ridiculous card. The other cards which were much closer, showed the respective nature of the fight. Unfortunately however they left Go on the unfortunate end of a split decision.
No one will argue that Mucino got a robbery, far from it, though the card of 99-91 failed to reflect the nature of the fight and Go certainly deserved more than a round from this fight.
Earlier today Japanese fans in Wakayama had a chance to see local hero Shindo Go (14-2, 9) in action as she successfully defended her WBC female Flyweight title, for the second time, with an excellent stoppage victory over Thailand's Kledpetch Lookmuangkan (6-3, 1).
Go, one of Japanese boxing's more under-rated fighters, started cautiously and tried to avoid the southpaw left of her challenger early in the bout. It was a case of seeing what the Thai had in her and trying not to make too many mistakes early on.
Sadly for Kledpetch it didn't take Go long to figure her out and from round 4 onwards Go began to move through the gears becoming more and more aggressive. It was as if Go realised that the Thai had nothing to trouble her and went for the kill.
The Thai did well to see off the increasing offensive action of Go though unfortunately the bout became more and more one sided. Go began hammering the challenger upstairs and downstairs whilst walking through what little resistance was fired back. The assault of Go was vicious and Kledpetch was wilting round after round.
In round 8 Go started very fast and swiftly the referee was forced to rescue the Thai who had taken more than enough punishment to justify the stoppage which was very much welcomed by the local crowd who were all there to see Go defending her title.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
When we think of the top Asian female fighters right now it's fair to say that no one matches Naoko Fujioka, the stand out Asian and one of the top pound-for-pound female fighters on the planet.
One of the chasing pack behind Fujioka is Japanese Flyweight Shindo Go (13-2, 8). Go, real name Megumi Hashimoto, showed why she is so highly regarded earlier today as she made the first defense of her WBC Flyweight title.
Defending the belt she took from Renata Szebeledi 7 months ago Go made a great start using her boxing skills and aggression to fight off Mexican challenger Judith Rodriguez (6-6, 4). Rodriguez, despite her record, proved to be a fighter unwilling to just lose and she tried to fight back and made life very difficult for Go with her Latino spirit keeping her competitive through the bout despite being behind on the cards.
Despite mostly looking in control Go did get stunned at one point as she faced a rare struggle. She managed to see it out and went on to take the unanimous decision by a closer than expected 96-94 scoreline across the board.
Whilst the cards did reflect a very close bout it was hard to see anyway in which Go was to lose the bout. She was in control for large portions and even seemed to be robbed of a knockdown early on, a knockdown that would have made the scores very clear on the cards. Thankfully though the right fighter won and few will complain about the result, despite the spirited effort of Rodriguez.