By Joe Koizumi
Hard-punching OPBF ruler Naoko Yamaguchi (20-3-3, 17 KOs), 115, Japan, captured the WBA female super-flyweight belt as she patiently kept stalking very elusive defending titlist Tsunami Tenkai (18-4, 7 KOs), 115, winning a unanimous nod (97-93 twice and 97-94) over ten hard-fought rounds on Monday in Tokyo, Japan. The referee was Toshio Sugiyama, Japan.
Tenkai, making her fifth defense, utilized his faster footwork and flexible body movement to avert Yamaguchi’s solid punches almost perfectly in the first half. But Tenkai moved too excessively, which indicated the champ would be slowing down in later rounds. As expected, the shorter stocky challenger apparently dominated the sixth, eighth and ninth as Tenkai visibly lost her top speed in later rounds.
Yamaguchi, seven years her senior at 34, is the first world champ that ex-WBA junior fly champ Yoko Gushiken has produced. The 57-year-old ex-titlist looked very much excited to see Yamaguchi’s coronation after he established his gym eighteen years ago. For Gushiken, Yamaguchi, this time, was the seventh challenger in a quest for the world throne.
For Yamaguchi, it was her second attempt to win the world belt, following her defeat at the hand of Ana Maria Torres in Mexico in January of the previous year. Her dream finally came true.
Yamaguchi, when in a high school, won the Japanese national championship in the javelin throw. She then began to learn how to box afterward, and can really punch.
Promoter: Shirai Gushiken Promotions.