By Joe Koizumi
WBA female super-fly champ Zhang Xi Yan (7-1, 2 KOs), out of China, will make her initial defense against Japanese challenger Tsunami Tenkai (12-3, 4 KOs) on Thursday in Tokyo, Japan. Zhang, handled by famed European agent Philippe Fondu and coached by Frenchman Nicolas Rifford, arrived here last Friday, and has been training diligently prior to her first defense since she dethroned Korean Hana Kim by a unanimous ten-round decision in Chengdu, China, in October 2007. Tenkai, ex-IFBA bantam ruler, is five years her junior at 24 and seems to be much motivated to wrest the belt from the Chinese southpaw.
Zhang impressed Japanese press people with her good speed and excellent skills at a public workout last Saturday. Tenkai, on Sunday, also showed her training to the press and expressed her strong will to mix it up.
It will be the very first WBA first female title bout ever held in Japan, and their performance may be a key to future popularity of the female boxing here. Zhang, former amateur champ whose record was reportedly 29-3, 16 stoppages, may be more skillful and faster on foot, while Tenkai will be a more powerful willing mixer.
When asked about her impression on the Japanese challenger, Zhang said, “she is very pretty.” As we expected her comments on Tenkai’s strength rather than her appearance, we burst into laughter. The pretty little Chinese and Japanese will exchange gloves on Thursday, and we hope it will be a good fight.