Japan Reporting: The Return of Ayaka Miyao

Ayaka Miyao Returns


By Yuriko Miyata


Hard times might be necessary for adventurers to reach their goals.


Former WBA atomweight champion Ayaka Miyao (22-7-1, 6KOs) came back to the ring after a lengthy year and a half year absence last Thursday at Tokyo’s Korakuen Hall in Japan.


Miyao stopped a former world title challenger Aisah Alico (7-9, 5KOs) of Philippines at 1:17 in the fourth round of a contest scheduled for 6 rounds.


At first she seemed a little cautious behind jabs looking at Alico’s southpaw style and watching her steps while familiarizing herself to the boxing canvas after the long absence. But she was fully charged when the second round started. She locked into the opponent with a vicious straight right and left hook to the body then embarrassed her with quick combinations.


The ex-champion could not hide her delight in fact that she was aggressive and showed her confidence with inside work despite her known outside-boxing style.


Miyao’s endless attack made the journey woman lose her fighting spirit. Soon the barrages of solid shots in the corner made the referee decide to halt the one sided game. The peaceful smile on the victor revealed her emotional relief.


Miyao has gotten through real hardship these past years.


The journey back


It all started when she put her WBA 102 lbs title at stake into the unification bout between WBC version titleholder Momo Koseki in October 2015. Miyao knocked the rival down with a right hook in the first round but Koseki’s continual counterattack finally reversed the fight and she won the narrow decision.


Miyao lost her world champion belt that she defended five times in two years. She returned to competition with a 4th round TKO against a Thailander in six months, Miyao subsequently challenged WBO champion Nao Ikeyama to regain honor. Then another tragic accident happened to Miyao. When she stepped back during the fight, she slipped down to the canvas in weird way. She stood up in pain at once and tried to keep fighting, but she was floored soon again. She left the ring on stretchers for a hospital that eventually diagnosed her right knee as an ACL tear.


It could have been a fatal injury for an athlete whose footwork is crucial. But she has never given up the goal to stand up again as a world level boxer after the surgery and long rehabilitation.


When she showed up at Korakuen Hall for an exhibition sparring with an assisting orthosis on her right knee in May 2017, she greeted the audience, “I am happy to be here. It would take a little more time but I promise I will come back here to fight. Thank you for your support.”


It took another 13 months actually to fight, but she made it. There is a compelling story on Boxing Magazine website (https://www.bbm-japan.com/_ct/17149901) written by Shinjiro Funahashi in which Miyao told him how she is happy to be able to move in the ring again. With a new trainer Koji Umetsu, a former Japanese featherweight champion, she is focusing on physical strength to punch harder than she used to do. This comeback victory was just one step but a meaningful step in her goal of returning to form. It’s pure ambition and joy to fight she says and she intends to get better. It’s the heroine’s road to another triumph.


(Photo by Shinjiro Funahashi)


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