Japan’s Mizuki Hiruta vs Casey Morton

Japan’s Mizuki Hiruta Ready to Defend WBO Title on Tuesday in Tokyo


By Yuriko Miyata

Japan’s new front runner Mizuki Hiruta is defending her WBO super flyweight title against Hawaiian veteran Casey Morton (11-3-3, 3KOs) in a 10 round bout at Korakuen Hall, Tokyo on June 13th.

It is a mandatory fight for the tall southpaw who won the vacant title via an almost perfect performance over fellow contender Kanako Taniyama with a clean knockdown by a right hook following a solid left counter in the seventh round in the same venue last December.

“It’s my mission to retain the title by K.O. within 6th rounds and fly back to my ‘second home’ in California, saying ‘I did it as you told me, coach!’ ”, the defending champion determined.

This April, Hiruta had a three-week camp at Manny Robles’ Knockout Boxing Facility in South Gate, California, for the first time joining with diverse boxers from Mexico, Argentina, Australia, United Kingdom, Mongolia, so forth. Robles and his company welcome earnest boxers no matter their gender or where they are from.

“I have been impressed, actually, by girl fighters and how they are hungry to get better in boxing. It’s a pleasure to work with them.”, Robles says. Learning from the experienced old school coach, are super bantamweight prospect Ramla Ali, super flyweight contender Linn Sandstorm, hard-hitting minimumweight Lupita Medina, USA amateur standout Perla Bazaldua, and the legend of Argentina Yesica Yolanda Bopp work hard together there. That quality squad was what Hiruta had starved for.

She picked her 27th birthday, April 12, to depart Tokyo for the camp.

“I think my birthday is the day to start something special or new in life. Isn’t it a good idea, is it? When I won the world title, I was really happy that I achieved my goal that I worked for since the day I decided to compete professionally. But the very next moment, I thought the belt must be a ticket to go further. This is just the beginning. I’ve just opened the door. I have to see the world, and how the world class boxers do. I should not stay in a comfortable place because my goal is to be a great boxer to impress people in the world. That is why I decided to come to the U.S., no matter of the language barrier, to train with Manny Robles and his team.”

The southpaw, with pink hair and her favorite Hello Kitty outfits, has never skipped a training session, including morning mountain running with her teammates, drills off the ring, and three-day-a-week sparring. She has showed her superb athleticism and determination in trying whatever the coaches have asked of her. She was learning how to make her offense more effective and practicing her moves and positions in closer range. Robles, his longtime assistant Edgar Jaso, and MannyⅢ were happy that she could make the necessary adjustments in rounds following their advice. The people in the gym told her that they cannot believe she only had four pro fights.

Behind her quick moving pro career since October 2021, she had an outstanding amateur career and was known as a rival of Sena Irie, who won the Olympic gold medal in female boxing for the first time in Japan’s history.

From gymnastics to boxing

It came almost by accident for Hiruta, who enjoyed gymnastics since five, to start boxing as a high school freshman. The first day she went to Okayama Prefectural High School of Technology, she and her mother wandered the campus and ended up at a boxing gym (outdoor). She became the first girl boxer of the school team. After graduation, she enrolled into the Japanese military called Self Defense Force in the suburb of Tokyo in 2015. While training as an officer, she continued competing and won the National Championship at flyweight in 2016, and at featherweight in 2019. Hiruta represented Japan to win a silver medal in the President Cup in Kazakhstan and participated in the World Championship in India in 2018. She was unable to make it to the Tokyo Games, which was her biggest goal, as she lost a  2-3 decision to Irie in the domestic final box-off in the featherweight division in early 2020. That big loss made her decide to turn to professional boxing and prove herself.

Having left the military camp of strict discipline in March 2021, she went straight to a hair salon to have her hair flamboyantly colored, signed with Misako Boxing, one of the major stables in Japan, and got licensed within two months. In her pro debut in October of that year, she dropped undefeated Nanae Yamaka by a right hook in the very first round to win it by a unanimous decision with a score of 60-53 by all judges. Irie was ringside. This was what she said in the ring interview: “I want to make a revolution in Japanese female pro boxing, as Sena Irie made it in amateur.”

Hiruta went on the fast track by taking heavy duty fights last year. In her second fight in April, she learned how dangerous the punches are with 8oz gloves, very different from the thick gloves in amateur boxing, when she was knocked down in the seventh round by slugger Terumi Nuki, who had already fought for the world title three times. She was able to overcome the knockdown by using her speed and skills to win a unanimous decision. In her third fight in September, she outclassed a former fellow top amateur Hinami Yanai throughout the six-round bout to win the vacant Japan Boxing Commission flyweight title, before winning the WBO belt in her following fight and being awarded the Woman Boxer of the Year 2022 Japan.

When the champion completed her entire camp in California, her first time in the U.S. since visiting the USOPC training center in Colorado Springs when she was an amateur, she felt confident about her future in boxing. And what’s more, she has a new home here, sharing good chemistry with hardworking and happy people in the gym. That’s Jaso who predicts “win by KO in 6th round” on her upcoming fight. Robles is waiting for her return as a champion, saying, “I am thankful to meet and know her. It was just the beginning of our work together.”

“This camp woke me up. I learned a lot every day, and now I am so sure that I can be a better fighter. I am greedy to be stronger. I will win this fight and come back to my team there.”

On June 13th the very flamboyant champion seeks to prove her determination and talent in carrying out her words.