By Joe Koizumi
Photos: Sumio Yamada
40-year-young WBO female bantamweight champ Naoko Fujioka (15-1, 6 KOs), 117.5, impressively kept her belt when she withstood the opening attack of ex-WBC flyweight titlist Go Shindo (16-4, 11 KOs), 117.75, took back the initiative with her furious retaliation and finally pounded out a very unanimous verdict (98-91 twice and 97-92) over ten grueling rounds on Monday in Tokyo, Japan. It must be Fight of the Decade, as our people never saw such a furious give-and-take battle in female boxing history in Japan.
The opening session witnessed Shindo almost topple the defending champ with a vicious right cross twice, and the crowd sensed that the end would come soon with the challenger victorious, but it was Fujioka that displayed desperate retaliations from the second round onward. Piling up points, Fujioka finally caught up with the game and hard-punching Shindo, taller and bigger than the champ, and floored her with a solid right to the face in the closing seconds of the eighth.
Shindo, who had lost a controversial split duke to Mariana Juarez in quest of the WBC 112-pound belt in Los Angeles four years ago, showed her heart with desperate attacks with full power in round nine, but the champ gamely fought back hard with faster and more accurate combinations toe-to-toe in the squared circle. Japan’s Katsuhiko Nakamura finely controlled the hard-fought contest.
In the first WBO title bout, 46-year-young Nao Ikeyama (10-2, only one KO), 100.75, barely kept her 102-pound belt by a split draw (96-94, 94-96, 95-95) with Saemi Hanagata (12-7-2, 6 KOs), 101.77, over ten. Danrex Tapdasan of the Philippines was the third man.