Japan’s Best Naoko Fujioka and Tsunami Tenkai Coming to America
By David A. Avila
In less than two weeks Japan versus USA will take place in Los Angeles.
Two of the very best fighters from the island nation will arrive when WBA flyweight world titlist Naoko Fujioka and WBO light flyweight world titlist Tsunami Tenkai hit American soil.
The state of California recently declared that sporting events including boxing can have full capacity seating.
Expect throngs of fans to arrive when East L.A.’s Seniesa “Super Bad” Estrada (20-0) challenges Tenkai (28-12-1) and Arizona’s Sulem Urbina (12-1) meets Fujioka (18-2-1) on Friday July 9. The two world title fights take place at the Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles. Tickets are available.
Big-time boxing is back in California.
The two female world title fights are part of the Golden Boy Promotions card that includes Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez versus Sullivan Barrera; Jojo Diaz vs Javier Fortuna and several other bouts. DAZN will stream the card.
It’s not an exaggeration to say Naoko Fujioka has been Japan’s best female fighter in history. She has won world titles in five different weight divisions from minimum weight at 102 pounds to the 118-pound bantamweight limit. Many boxing publications consider her one of the top fighters pound for pound in the world.
Fujioka has been eager to perform in front of American audiences for years. She finally gets her wish and will meet flyweight contender Sulem Urbina whose only loss was against new WBC flyweight champion Marlen Esparza.
At 45, has Fujioka lost too much to age?
The last time Fujioka lost was in 2016 to Jessica Chavez in Mexico. On the same note she defeated the great Mariana “Barby”Juarez in Mexico back in 2015. That’s an incredible feat.
Urbina has extensive amateur experience and shown an ability to fight moving forward or while in motion. It’s a big moment for her to challenge for the world title.
Tenkai Tsunami is the other Japanese fighter of prominence. Many say she is equal to Naoko and it’s hard to argue when both fought each other to a draw two years ago. She is a fiery boxer who uses aggressiveness or boxing ability with equal flare.
After numerous losses to talented opposition Tenkai has found her footing and has not lost a fight in four years. This is her first visit to the USA.
Seniesa Estrada has been amassing a reputation in Los Angeles for decades. First as an amateur with a unique style and then proceeding to burn through the professional fight world with eye-popping abilities.
Though she recently captured the WBC minimum weight title, she hungered for more competition and when no other minimum weights stepped forward, she eagerly accepted to move up a weight division to face the dangerous Tenkai.
It easily has the potential to be the Fight of the Year. In fact, both female title fights have potential to grab the eyes of the world. The last time two women’s world title fights were on the same card in Los Angeles was December 8, 2018. On that day Claressa Shields and Femke Hermans fought for the WBA and WBC middleweight titles. And Cecilia Braekhus and Aleksandra Lopes fought for the undisputed welterweight championship. It was also the last time HBO televised a boxing card.
Japan is sending its two best fighters and the USA counters with two of its best.
Fireworks for sure. Golden Boy Promotions is going for the homerun with this card.
Spain’s dynamic Joana Pastrana called it a career and announced she is retiring from prizefighting.
The former IBF minimum weight world champion Pastrana defeated Anne Sophie Da Costa by unanimous decision on Saturday June 26. The EBU title fight took place in Madrid, Spain and after the fight she thanked everyone.
“This is a farewell to boxing but for all of you who follow me, I have to tell you this is not a goodbye to Joana Pastrana,” she said.
More Fight News
Florencia Villalba (1-0-1) and Dayana Loyola (0-0-1) fought to a split draw after four rounds on Saturday June 26. The flyweight contest was held at Cordoba.
On Sunday July 4, light flyweights Evelyn Bermudez (13-0-1) and Tamara Demarco (9-3) meet 10 rounds for the IBF world title at Rosario. Also, light flyweights Jennifer Meza (4-1) and Roxana Bermudez (2-3-2) meet six rounds.
Taylah Robertson (3-0) won by unanimous decision after eight rounds versus Callie Ryan (0-1) on Friday June 25. The Australian bantamweight title fight took place at Carrara, Queensland.
On Saturday July 3, super featherweights Delfine Persoon (44-3) and Elena Gradinar (10-1) meet 10 rounds for the IBO Inter-Continental title at West Vlaanderen.
Veronica Zuluaga (2-0) won by first round knockout over Mileydis Mercado (0-2) on Saturday June 26. The bantamweight fight took place at Puerto Colombia. Also, Paulino Angel (2-0) knocked out Mirleydis Hoyos (0-3) in the second round in their super bantamweight bout.
Dina Thorsland (16-0) won by unanimous decision after 10 rounds versus Mexico’s Jasseth Noriega (27-5-2) on Friday June 25. The WBO bantamweight world title fight took place at Struer. Also, Melissa Mortensen (1-0) beat Naiara Olmedo (1-4) by decision after a six round featherweight contest.
Jeyssa Marcel (4-0) was victorious after six rounds against Ivanka Ivanova (3-15-3) on Friday June 25. The super bantamweight bout took place at Garges les Gonesse.
On Saturday July 3, light flyweights Marie Connan (4-1) and Joana Suarez (5-1-1) meet 10 rounds for the EBU title at Vendome.
On Saturday July 3, featherweights Amel Anouar (2-0-1) and Nahed Kharchi (5-4) meet eight rounds for the French title at Carentan.
On Friday July 2, featherweights Valentina Bustamante (0-0) and Daniela Panait (1-0-1) meet six rounds in Asti.
On Thursday June 29, super flyweights Tomoko Okuda (7-2-2) and Miyo Yoshida (14-2) meet for the WBO super flyweight world title at Tokyo. This is a rematch. Their first encounter ended in a technical decision win for Okuda last December.
Yamileth Mercado (18-2) won by unanimous decision over Angelica Rascon (10-1) after 10 rounds on Saturday June 26. The WBC super bantamweight title fight took place at Chihuahua. It was Mercaco’s second defense of the title.
On Saturday July 3, minimum weights Brenda Alonso (1-0) and Brenda Balderas (1-3-1) meet eight rounds at Tepic, Nayarit.
On Saturday July 3, super lightweights Mea Motu (8-0) and Michaela Jenkins (1-1) meet eight rounds for the New Zealand title at Auckland.
Matshidiso Mokebisi (14-8-1) won by technical knockout in the fifth round versus Bonita Van Jaarsveld (5-3-2) on Saturday June 26. The lightweight match was held in Soweto.
Joana Pastrana (17-3) defeated Anne Sophie Da Costa (28-7) by unanimous decision after 10 rounds on Saturday June 26. The EBU minimum weight title fight took place at Madrid.
Anais Kisler (1-0) defeated Jovana Miarovic (0-1) by decision after four rounds on Thursday June 24. The super lightweight fight took place at Geneva.
Anastasia Kovalchuk (2-0) knocked out Maryna Savchuk (0-1) in the second round on Saturday June 26. The super bantamweight fight was held at Uman.
Stevi Ann Levy (3-0) won by decision over Gabriella Mezei (11-26-5) after four rounds on Friday June 25. The super featherweight match took place at Yorkshire.
Avril Mathie (6-0-1) defeated Moni Trejo (2-2-1) by unanimous decision after six rounds on Saturday June 26. The bantamweight match was held in Weston, Florida.
On Friday July 2, welterweights Miranda Reyes (1-0) and Ruth Garcia (0-0) meet four rounds at Houston, Texas.
(Art by Felipe Leon)