Japan Now: The Hunt for More Female Champions

Tournaments in Japan for More Female Champions


By Yuriko Miyata


A decade of dedication by Japanese female boxers has moved the conservative world and opened the gates for the very first female championship tournament this year.


East Japan Boxing Association (JPBA-EAST), the female category committee backed by Japan Boxing Commission (JBC), organized the tournaments and narrowed them to five weight divisions for competitiveness.


It started with the featherweight semifinal in June and now the first national female titlists will be born in the atomweight, strawweight, flyweight, bantamweight, and featherweight classes with tournaments until the end of 2017.


When looking back at the history of boxing in post-war Japan, the national title with the contender-rating system and various kinds of tournaments, has worked very well for the development of boxing.


Recently the elimination circuits for national titles have been established. The prize tournaments for 8-rounders and those for 6-rounders have been good steps for boxers for more than 30 years, and the national rookies tournaments have 70 years of tradition that have contributed to 22 world champions including the greatest of all Fighting Harada.


Now the same arrangement is expected to work for female competition.


Birth of Female Boxing in Japan


When professional female boxing was authorized by the JBC in 2008, the JPBA-EAST female committee discussed how to develop the women’s field where many world class fighters already existed. But bringing up newcomers is deemed indispensable for the long term development and prosperity of women’s boxing.


In 2010 they started rating the fighters with at least one win excluding current and ex world champions. Finally a tournament for all those rated boxers took place this year.



Many prospects have participated as expected. The top favorite in atomweight division is the much experienced Chie Higano who already made an attempt for world title last November. She lost by TKO in the fourth round to Momo Koseki who has held the WBC title for more than nine years, but Higano came back to the ring this April to show that her bottomless stamina and determination has never been discouraged.



In the strawweight circuit, two undefeated prospects, Fuka Komura and Jun Yabuki have advanced to the final. With a long experience in competitive karate Komura has got credit for her high combative sense since this high school student debuted just a year ago. Actually she stayed in the 11th grade three years so she is still 12th grader now at the age of 20. “I want to graduate from school with the champion belt!” Komura said adding that’s what she aspires toward. But the opponent Yabuki is also a recognized talent. She is a southpaw on the back of her 20 years of activity in Kendo (Japanese fencing), and works well at distance with her right jabs and quick steps. The key for Komura to win would be how to get inside of Yabuki’s deep territory. The must-see battle is going to take place on November 20.



The bantamweight final is also the best possible match up. Miyo Yoshida was a well known top fighter in kick boxing and in the MMA arena and then turned toward traditional boxing in 2014. After a year-long break due to some illness, she fought every other month to make up for lost time. This past March she avenged a loss to Yuki Koseki who gave her only loss and now she is one of the most vigorous fighters in the country. Tomomi Takano has a different story. She started boxing while working as a fashion model seven years ago then got licensed by the JBC in 2013. The boxing media did not take her seriously even though she obtained the OPBF super flyweight title. She was generally viewed as a popular but “too beautiful” fighter. However, that perception has changed when she challenged WBO super flyweight champion Daniela Bermudez of Argentine two years ago. Although she lost by KO in the fourth round very badly, she showed her potential as a boxer with a strong jab and straight right cross from the height of 5’11. This national championship fight would be a great opportunity for her to prove herself a real fighter.

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