Japan Reporting: Ebata, Tenkai and other Results from Tokyo
By Yuriko Miyata
A pair of Japanese proficient fighters proved that they are still on top of the world.
WBO minimumweight champion Kayoko Ebata (12-7, 6KOs) made her first defense and former WBA super flyweight champion Tsunami Tenkai (25-12, 14KOs) also successfully won the WBO light flyweight title, which was vacated by Naoko Fujioka recently, on the double main event of the new all women fight series “Victoriva” on March 8th, the International Women’s Day, at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo.
It was a narrow victory for defending champion Ebata over former IFBA 105 lbs titlist Park Ji Hyun(22-3, 6KOs) of Korea by majority decision scored 95-95 by a judge while others did 98-92 and 97-93.
Ebata made a good start with jabs and left hooks to the body. The Korean fighter out of a two and half year hiatus picked up her pace using her long and strong rights around the halfway mark. The champion Ebata kept stepping in and out to avoid the opponent’s solid punches.
Ebata survived the hard times when she was shaken by Park’s right hook in the seventh round toward the final bell of the fight. The champion was so exhausted and looked relieved as she spent the last 10 months with her other profession in the advertising company. She had not fought since winning the world championship in her sixth and final attempt last May.
“The challenger was a really great fighter of skill and physical strength though she looked so thin. I could have given it up but I could somehow hang in there because I did not want to give my belt to anybody. This belt is the proof of 20 years of my boxing life. By the way it was very hard not only to win this fight but also all the way coming to this fight. I was unbelievably busy from work! Thank you all for your support of my colleagues. But please do me a favor to let me keep fighting a little bit more.”
The best fight of the night was the scheduled 10 round battle that Tenkai drove Chaoz Minowa (5-1, 4KOs) into quitting after the eighth round to grab the vacant WBO light flyweight title.
Minowa looked great in the early rounds. She is a prospect with seven amateur national titles. While she had not fought with an opponent of quality since turning pro just 18 months ago, she showed enough talent to bother Tenkai with sharp and busy jabs. But Tenkai stayed cool with the confidence in her profound experience of 12 years long professional career, and she studied carefully the quick movements of the undefeated Minowa.
She saw Minowa getting slower from her quick pace and then Tenkai turned the table in the end of fourth round as sharp counterpunches started working. It seemed easy for the former champion to hit precisely with right uppercuts, right crosses, and left hooks as the opponent kept coming in. Though Minowa hung in there, her corner decided to give up after the eighth round.
It took five years and eight months for Tenkai to add the world champion belt to her collection since she was uncrowned by Naoko Yamaguchi in July 2012. Having never been disappointed despite three losses in the world title fights abroad that included defeats by decision to Arely Mucino twice, Carolina Rodrigues, Jessica Chavez twice, Zulina Munoz, and Mariana Juarez, she reached the summit again. But she did not want to show her tears to the fans.
“Thank you all for the support. I am happy and relieved with this victory. But this is not my goal. This is rather another start to prove that I am the best in the world by fighting with anybody anywhere. I wished I could have knocked her out completely. It tells me that I am not great enough. I need push myself more.” At 33 years old the two time champion is still 100 percent ambitious.
In the undercards, OPBF 105 lbs. champion Saemi Hanagata (14-7-4, 7KOs) defended her title by unanimous decision over the top contender Erica Hanawa (8-2, 3KOs). Much more experienced Hanagata dominated the decent boxer Hanawa with powerful shots on stable footwork from the beginning. Although she allowed the challenger to get inside in the last couple of rounds, she earned the scores 78-74 by all three judges. The appealing win for Hanagata should enable her to get a fifth chance for a world title in the near future. She is now rated in 105 lbs division #4 by WBA and #8 by IBF, also #2 by WBC in 102 lbs. class.
The all women show also contained three 6-round contests for the national title.
The first Japanese bantamweight champion Miyo Yoshida (9-1) outpointed mandatory challenger Kai Johnson (5-12-3, 2KOs). The judges saw the fight as 60-55 twice and 59-55 in favor of champion, but the pair could not entertain the audience. There were few exchanges of punches as they clinched each other most the time in the fight. The champion Yoshida earned some points with accurate right crosses in later rounds.
Rated #2 by Japanese Boxing Commission Yumemi Ikemoto (5-1) defeated #1 Yuki Koseki (5-5, 1KO) by unanimous decision to be the first Japanese flyweight champion. Ikemoto took advantage of her height and skill to deck the opponent on with an accurate one-two combination in the second round. Solid straights of by Ikemoto kept Koseki’s attack outside until the last gong. The scores were 59-55, 58-55, and 58-56.
The rematch between #2 rated Nanae Suzuki (6-2-1, 1KO) and #1 Sana Hazuki (6-3-1, 2KOs) was close again, but the first Japanese atomweight title went to Suzuki by majority decision of 58-57 twice and 57-57. The pair drew in their first match up for the title three months ago. Hazuki looked well with her long straights in the earlier rounds but Suzuki rolled it up with bothersome rush.
It was good for fans to find a future challenger for the national title in the only non-title 6-rounder of the night. JBC atomweight #7 Sayaka Aoki (4-3-2, 3KOs) showed powerful hands to stop determined Yumiko Shimooka (4-5, 1KO), in the JBC minimumweight #3 at 35 seconds in the sixth round.