Report and Photos by Joe Koizumi
WBA female super-flyweight champ Naoko Yamaguchi (22-3-3, 18 KOs), formerly a javelin thrower, will put her belt on the line as she will face unbeaten compatriot, WBC strawweight titlist Naoko Fujioka (10-0, 6 KOs) in a sensational encounter in Tokyo, Japan, on November 13. The confrontation of the female champs was announced by Yoko Gushiken, ex-WBA junior fly champ who kept it thirteen times to his credit and is currently the promoter handling the hard-punching champ Yamaguchi.
Yamaguchi, making her third defense, dethroned Tsunami Tenkai in July of the previous year, and impressively kept it twice by defeating Mexican Judith Rodriguez (W10) and Italian Loredana Piazza (TKO7) to show her strength before her adherents. Her counterpart Fujioka, formerly national amateur champ, turned professional late at the age of thirty-four, and quickly captured the WBC 105-pound belt in her sixth pro bout by halting Anabel Ortiz after the eighth session in 2011. Fujioka dropped the Mexican defending champ and retired her on the stool. Since then, she kept her belt just twice chiefly because she had a great difficulty finding a challenger to fight with her belt at stake.
Fujioka futilely attempted to pursue a shot at any heavier world belt even by invading Mexico, but her dream didn’t come true. It is, however, Yamaguchi that gamely responded to her challenge, saying, “Fujioka says she hasn’t been beaten by any Japanese compatriots as an amateur and a professional. If so, I’ll be the one to make her taste the first defeat.”
Fujioka verbally responded, saying, “I’m very happy to be able to exchange gloves with Yamaguchi and I’ll do and show my best to wrest her belt.” The promoter Gushiken predicts a furious battle of the hard-punching girls. Fujioka’s manager is ex-WBA middleweight champ Shinji Takehara who dethroned Jorge “Locomotora” Castro by dropping him with a vicious body shot en route to an upset decision in 1995. He showed his respects to Gushiken, twelve inches shorter, at the press conference and said, “We appreciate this opportunity given by Mr. Gushiken and the WBA, and we’ll show our best performance.”
Well-known for her power punching as she is, Yamaguchi had better be careful to Fujioka’s speed and agility, since Fujioka has been beating up everybody male or female, light or heavier in sparring sessions. We believe there’s never such a difference on the real power between them as the size of the ex-WBA champions Gushiken (108 lbs.) and Takehara (160 lbs.).