Earlier today fight fans in Japan saw a new WBO female Super Flyweight champion being crowned as Tamao Ozawa (17-5, 6) [小澤瑶生] made the most of her third shot at a world title, and dethroned Miyo Yoshida (15-3) [吉田実代] at Korakuen Hall, ending Yoshida's second reign only a few months after it began.
From the off Ozawa tried to box behind a busy jab, letting her hands go and limiting the amount of success Yoshida could have, despite the fact Yoshida was typically the one coming forward. The higher work rate of the challenger saw her do enough to take not just the opening round, but many of the early rounds to establish an early lead.
Whilst Ozawa boxed well, there were moments where Yoshida managed to get close, and this resulted in something of a messy brawl, the type of fight Yoshida has typically had success in. Sadly for Yoshida however it seemed that Ozawa had more to her skillset that Yoshida, and even with Yoshida being more versed in the brawling style she couldn't take control of the action, and was often found being handcuffed by the work rate of Ozawa.
As the bout went on Yoshida managed to have her moments, especially in the second half of the bout, but by then she was well down on the scorecards and fighting more make the scores respectable than actually fighting in the hope of retaining her title.
After 10 rounds it seemed like a clear win for Ozawa, and on two of the scorecards that was the case with judges scoring it 97-93 to Ozawa, with those two judges scoring the bout exactly the same and giving Yoshida rounds 4,7 and 10. Somehow the third judge had Yoshida winning, 96-94, giving Yoshida rounds 3,4,5, 7, 9 and 10, in a score that really didn't reflect what was a clear win for Ozawa.
Earlier today at Korakuen Hall we saw a new WBO Atomweight world champion being crowned as Nanae Suzuki (11-4-1, 1) [鈴木菜々江] dethroned Mika Iwakawa (10-6-1, 3) [岩川 美花], in a rematch of a bout from 2020.
In their first bout Iwakawa showed her boxing skills early on, but Suzuki came on strong as the bout went on, and arguably did enough to claim the win back then. Notably neither fighter had fought since that bout, and at 38 it was assumed Iwakawa had potentially started to age coming into this bout. That was proven to be true pretty early on, as Iwakawa's movement and footwork from their first bout was absent here early on. Instead of Iwakawa boxing and moving, she was dragged into a was immediately, from a hungry and determined Suzuki.
The challenger didn't land much in terms of quality, but got off to the start she would have wanted, making Iwakawa fighter her fight. That continued through much of the bout, and although Iwakawa tried to spoil at times, and fought back hard, her well rounded boxing skills were pretty much absent. To her credit however Iwakawa bounced back from a tough opening round to have success in rounds 2, 3 and 4 thanks to her cleaner, more accurate work.
With the pace being as intense as it was, and it really was a high tempo start to the fight, the question was how long could Iwakawa's legs keep up the pace. In round 5 the tempo began to catch up with the defending champion, and Suzuki out worked her through much of the middle part of the fight, using volume to catch the eye and neutralise the quality of Iwakawa.
The strong middle rounds for Suzuki saw her take a lead, before she began to get sloppy, giving Iwakawa a chance to finish strong, and have the space she needed to show her boxing skills. By then however it was too little too late for the defending champion.
After 10 rounds the bout went to the judges. It was clear the fight was close, and had swung back and forth, but it seemed Suzuki had done enough, a view shared by two of the judges, who gave her the bout 96-94, with Iwakawa getting the same score from the dissenting judge.
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 we saw the WBO female Minimumweight title change hands as Japanese veteran Etsuko Tada (20-4-3, 7) [多田悦子] was dethroned, in somewhat controversial fashion, by mandatory challenger Thi Thu Nhi Nguyen (5-0, 1), from Vietnam.
In the opening round Tada was the one to establish herself in the middle of the ring whilst Nguyen got on the move, and used the ring more, getting a look at Tada, and using her speed and youth well.
From round 2 onwards Nguyen decided to hold her feet more, with the two fighters often exchanging shots in nice little moments of back and forth action. Those exchanges were really dominated by two things, Nguyen's left hand, which was landing in both jab and left hook forms, and Tada's straight left hand, which was less accurate but much more telling. Through much of the fight it was those two punches that really caught the eye and kept the action competitive looking.
Of course straight left hands, from a hard hitting southpaw, do mark than pitty patty jabs, and it seemed that whilst Nguyen was landing more shots, she wasn't doing much damage, or getting respect from Tada, who seemed to always have the bigger words in the exchanges. It was however not a clear and dominant start for Tada, given she was being out landed.
As the rounds went on the tempo slowly increased, with both women picking it up. The lead to Tada's heavy left hands hurting Nguyen several times in the final rounds of the bout, though Nguyen's toughness showed as she saw out the storm and fired back. She was clearly hurt in rounds 9 and 10, but gritted it out, and managed to see out the distance.
After the final bell all 3 judges all turned in identical scores of 96-94, in favour of Nguyen who got the decision.
It should be noted that the promoter of the event was Nguyen's promoter, and whilst she certainly had a strong start to the fight, from round 2 to 5, it did seem like she was very lucky to get the victory. Especially given how well Tada finished the bout.
Whilst it can be easy to feel sorry for Tada it should be noted that Nguyen actually created history, becoming the first Vietnamese world champion, male or female, in the sport. With that in mind we really hope she can help lay down the marker for the Vietnamese boxing scene, and help kick start a legitimate movement in the country.
Just moments ago we saw Japanese veteran Tenkai Tsunami (28-13-1, 16) [有馬真波]lose the WBO female Light Flyweight title as she came up against the brilliant Seniesa Estrada (21-0, 8), in what was a brilliant bout that showcased how exciting, and action packed female bouts can be, when the best face the best.
From the off it was clear that Estrada was the quicker, sharper fighter, with the better footwork and the cleaner punches however whilst Tsunami was the bigger, stronger fighter, with a style based around bringing pressure and trying to wear Estrada. For the first half of the fight the styles gelled amazing well, with Tsunami coming forward, chasing Estrada, who landed some brilliant shots up top in flurries. The eye catching flurries were all from Estrada, but she was being caught with some solid single shots as Tsunami's pressure had moments of real success.
Sadly however after a relative competitive start to the fight, through the first 4 or 5 rounds, Estrada went through the gears and really showed her class, with huge shots in round 6 and a blistering body attack in round 7, that really took the wind out of Tsunami and limited her work rate as a result.
Following the brutal body assault in round 7 Tsunami never really looked the same. She pressed forward a lot, but really ended up just walking into fire, as Estrada landed combination after combination and clearly shook the Japanese warrior several times in the later rounds. Tsunami battled through, showing her incredible toughness, but it really was a painful final few rounds for Tsunami, who really looked tired and out of her depth as we went through the championship rounds.
After 10 rounds there really was no debating the outcome. At best you could have made a case for Tsunami to have won 3 rounds, at best. None of the judges however agreed with that, as they turned in scores of 99-91, and 98-92, twice, to give Estrada the clear, and well deserved, victory.
With this win Estrada becomes 2-weight champion, and continues her rise to becoming arguably the most valuable female fighter in the sport.
As for Tsunami it's hard to know where she goes from here, but there are still doors open if she wishes to continue in the sport, or alternatively she can retire, on the back of an excellent career which has seen her win world titles at 115lbs and 108lbs and be one of the stars of the previous generation of female boxing.
Last year we saw Tomoko Okuda (7-3-2, 1) [奥田朋子] over-come Miyo Yoshida (15-2) [吉田 実代] for the WBO female Super Flyweight title, with a technical decision win. Today the two women faced off again with Yoshida looking to prove she was the better woman and Okuda looking to show her win over Yoshida last year wasn't some sort of freak win.
From the off Okuda looked to make the most of her size advantages, using her jab at range and catching the shorter Yoshida with uppercuts when she got inside. It was a solid start from the champion, but Yoshida was show real determination and managed to get inside in round 3 as her pressure slowly began to see her claw her way into the bout. That pressure began to have more of an effect in rounds 4 and 5 as Yoshida refused to back down, despite being caught by some solid jabs from Okuda.
Despite Okuda's brave effort Yoshida managed to have one of her both rounds in round 6 as she managed to get close and force a fire fight that got the attention of the fans, who broke out into applause for what the women were giving us. It was a relatively short moment of sustained success for Yoshida, before Okuda came back really well in round 8, preventing Yoshida from getting in the pocket for the round. Okuda's ability to keep the fight at range was, however, not something she could do for ever and the final round saw Yoshida going all out with pressure, unleashing shots with both hands up close forcing Okuda to fire back.
The huge effort from Yoshida provide vital when we went to the judges, with the former champion reclaiming the WBO title via a split decision, with scores of 96-94, twice in her favour and once in favour of Okuda.
Earlier today in Sakai City, and around the world thanks to the Boxing Real YouTube channel, had the chance to see Japanese veteran Tenkai Tsunami (28-12-1, 16) [有馬真波] record her third defense of the WBO female Light Flyweight title, as she over-came Shione Ogata (11-7-1, 3) [緒方汐音].
On paper this was a really interesting match up, despite the records of the two women.
The 36 year old Tsunami had seen better days. She was a proper veteran of the sport, debuting back in 2005, and had been in her share of wars including a 2019 thriller with the legendary Naoko Fujioka. She was in a good run of form coming in, but father time, or should that be mother time, can catch up with a fighter in their 30's very quickly. On the hand Ogata had turned around her career in recent going 10-2-1 in her last 13 bouts, whilst taking 3 regional titles along the way. The challenger was in great form, had developed really well in recent years, guided by Nobuhiro Ishida, and was the local favourite, coming from nearby Neyagawa city.
At the start of the bout Ogata was on her toes, knowing that Tsunami can bring a lot of pressure and high work rate. The movement and jab approach is one we've seen have success against Tsunami in the past and we the right approach from Ogata, who was clearly the quicker fighter. Sadly for Ogata however the pressure from Tsunami was relentless yet intelligent and by the end of the round Tsunami was starting to close the distance. Regularly.
Ogata continued to try to use her feet to create space in round 2, but by then Tsunami was starting for force Ogata to fight the wrong fight and things were getting fought up close, with Ogata losing her composure, getting involved in a brawl and being dropped towards the end of the round.
Despite it only being round 2, the winner was looking very easy to predict and the only real question was whether Ogata would regain her composure and avoid being stopped. To her credit she did grit out some hairy moments in the first half, being hurt in round and really failing to fighter her own fight.
After being dropped in round 2, in trouble in round 3 and under intense pressure in round 4 it seemed inevitable that Ogata was going to be broken down. She was simply taking too many clean, heavy shots from Tsunami, she couldn't avoid Tsunami's over hand right, she couldn't get the space she needed to use her speed and she was looking more ragged by the round.
Surprisingly however she managed to get Tsunami's respect in round 5. It seemed, finally, like the nerves were starting to calm down, and that she was beginning to relax a little more. She was still taking more punishment than was good for her, but it was clear that she didn't feel the need to stand and trade as much. She was using her brain, rather than just fighting. It wasn't a round she won, but it was a significantly better round for her.
Despite showing more composure in round 5 Ogata was still in trouble, in a huge hole, and losing the rounds. It was as if she realised that it was better for her to try and box her fight in the second half rather than trying to win. When she did that she had some success. She wasn't doing enough to wins rounds, but was doing enough to keep Tsunami honest, and we saw this right through the second half of the fight. The challenger was challenging the champion. Not beating her, but challenging her, asking questions and trying to make sure she could take a moral victory from the bout. Something she did when she heard the final bell.
After 10 rounds we went to the scorecards. There was no real questioning the scores as all 3 judges had the bout 100-89 to Tsunami who was the worthy winner. At best you could have given Ogata a sympathy round, a pity round, though in fairness to her, surviving 10 rounds after how things looked early on was a big moral victory.
For Tsunami there are some potentially big options out there for her, and a clash with Seneisa Estrada would be something her team should look at for later in the year. As for Ogata, this was a loss, but a learning experience and hopefully we see her bounce back from this. She has character and determination and that allowed her to at least make a fight of this.
Earlier today at the EDION Arena Osaka fans were able to see two different shows, with the second of those being headlined by a WBO female Super Flyweight title bout between defending champion Miyo Yoshida (14-2) [吉田 実代] and unheralded challenger Tomoko Okuda (7-2-2, 1) [奥田朋子].
Going in to this Yoshida, a single mother who's story has really connected with the Japanese media, was seeking her second defense of the title she won last year, when she beat Casey Morton. For the challenger however this was likely to be her one and only shot at a world title, given she was 37 and father time waits for no one. It was also expected to be a physically draining effort for Okuda to make weight, coming down from her natural Bantamweight to Super Flyweight, a tough ask for a woman who looked massive at 118lbs.
Despite the stories going into the bout, it was Okuda who proved to be too good, too strong and too powerful.
From the off Okuda looked to be the aggressor, and looked to take the initiative, dropping Yoshida with a big right hand in the opening round. It was the perfect start for the challenger who continued to be the bully in there, using her size, strength, power and physicality when she needed to, and her big right hand as often as she could.
After starting in a hole Yoshida began to find her groove in round 4, using her speed to get in and out with some success. She seemed to be on the verge of building some moment as we entered the middle rounds though a head clash in round 5 left Okuda badly cut, and time began to tick down on Yoshida's chances of turning the bout around, with the bout being stopped in round 6.
Given the cause of the cut we went to the scorecards which favoured Okuda 59-54, twice, and 57-56, and saw the title change hands.
Although not currently available to watch on demand the bout will be uploaded to Boxing Raise in the coming days for fans to enjoy.
Earlier today at Korakuen Hall we saw a new WBO female Minimumweight champion being crowned as Etsuko Tada (20-3-3, 7) [多田悦子] stopped Ayaka Miyao (23-9-2, 6) [宮尾 綾香] to claim the previously vacant title. In the process she went on to reclaim the title she had previously held in 2018/2019, before she vacated it.
The bout was a much anticipated one, after the two women fought to a draw back in January, and it was expected to be another hotly contested bout. That was despite the two fighters having hampered preparation for this bout, with Miyao admitting she had essentially not been able to spar or the bout.
Within seconds of the bout starting the two women had clashed heads. Miyao's head down aggression and Tada's southpaw stance did not made for good bedfellows. Despite the headclash neither woman was cut and instead we quickly got down to action with Miyao ploughing forward and Tada looking to play the roll of the counter puncher in center ring. The most eye catching single shots seemed to come from the quicker Miyao, though they did often just bounce off Tada, who looked the bigger, stronger fighter and had more success in the exchanges.
The second round saw Miyao using her speed more intelligently, making Tada miss and countering well, rather than standing in the pocket for too long. It was a good game plan, but an energy sapping one, and one that should couldn't maintain as Tada went on to wins rounds 3 and 4, establishing the early control of the bout. That was helped in part by her physicality and strength, and Miyao certainly got the worse from a headclash very early in round 4.
To her credit Miyao showed no quit and came back strongly in the fifth round landing a number of good, solid right hooks, but in the end she still couldn't budge Tada, who looked the much more imposing and sturdy fighter in the ring. That was shown even more in round 6 when Tada began to force a war on Miyao, increasing her pressure and aggression, whilst also firing off very stiff southpaw jabs. Miyao, to her credit, tried to make things messy, but it was a lot of effort from the former WBA Atomweight champion.
After 8 good rounds of action it seemed we were well on our way to another decision between these well matched, world class ladies. That was until the very early moments of round 9 when Tada landed one of the best punches of her career and sent Miyao down face first, with the referee quickly waving the bout off. The show, a short counter straight left hand was landed perfectly and Miyao's own momentum resulted in her face first impact.
Currently it's unclear what the future will hold for the two women, though we wouldn't be surprised if the end was night for both women. Tada will be 40 in May and Miyao is already 37 years old, so both ladies are old, and both have slipped from being the fighters they once were. Saying that however it does sound like Tada wants at least 1 more fighter before hanging up the gloves.
The first title fight of the weekend saw WBO Atomweight champion Mika Iwakawa (10-5-1, 3) [岩川 美花] make her first successful defense as she narrowly over-came the hard working and none stop pressure of Nanae Suzuki (10-4-1, 1) [鈴木菜々江], to claim a split decision.
The opening round saw Suzuki look the press the action, with relentless pressure. Although she was pressing and pushing forward, she was struggling to land anything of note, and when Iwakawa turned it on late in the round she showed the gulf in class between the two women.
Sadly that round was one of the highlights of the early parts of the fight with many of the other early rounds descending into a bit of a sloppy messy. For the most part Suzuki was pressing, Iwakawa was countering well and then holding. It was dire early on.
That was until round 5 when Iwakawa started to use her legs more, creating space and seemingly feeling the pressure get to her. From there the bout suddenly started to turn around, and in round 6 we saw action heating up, with both fighters letting their hands go more and giving us a thrilling exchange.
The action continued to get better in round 7 as Iwakawa realised she had to fight fire with fire. It made for a very entertaining round of back and forth action. It was certainly more entertaining than some of the earlier action but was also a sign that Suzuki was drawing Iwakawa into her fight.
Suzuki's pressure just didn't relent and she kept marching on and on. In round 8 that pressure made Ishikawa get back on her toes as she looked for space. Space wasn't going to be easy to come by thanks to Suzuki's incessant forward march.
By the start of round 10 it was clear that Suzuki's aggression, pressure and messy yet none stop forward march had made things incredibly close. She never looked close to being Iwakawa's equal in terms of skills, but her will to win, her stamina and her energy had made life incredibly hard for the champion. The champion seemed to land all the better shots, but she was taking huge breaks in rounds and only showing glimpses of what she could do.
After 10 rounds we were to the scorecards and there was a split decision. The scores read out were 97-93, 96-94 to Iwakawa and a dissent score of 97-93 to Suzuki.
Despite a solid start for Iwakawa the real story of the fight was the pressure of Suzuki, who was relentless and made things incredibly close. Sadly her lack of clean work did play against her. Despite the loss she will be back, and did seem to win over fans online, who likely hadn't seen her before but were impressed by her none stop effort.
Given Iwakawa is 37 this was probably a bit of regrettable match making from her point of view. She was in there with a bundle of energy and she could never really find her groove against the pressure and aggression of the challenger. The gulf in skills showed through out, and Iwakawa is on a different level in terms of skill, but Suzuki's will to win made things incredibly tough.