Photos by Naoki Fukuda  –

Do you know who’s a current world champion under 100 pounds? The WBO female atomweight titlist Nao Ikeyama is the one. Do you know who’s the oldest current world champ? Nao, 47 years old, is the one, too. Nao Ikeyama (18-3-3, 5 KOs), 99.5, barely kept her WBO 102-pound belt as she was held to a split draw (96-94, 94-96, 95-95) by younger and fresher Saemi Hanagata (13-6-4, 7 KOs), 101.75, over ten hard-fought rounds on Tuesday in Tokyo, Japan.

It’s Nao’s sixth successful defense, and the tallies were completely same as their previous encounter with the WBO belt at stake in June of the previous year. Hanagata, fifteen years her junior, took the initiative with her opening attack, but the veteran champ, having fought since 2003, came back hard with her trademark non-stop attack in the second half. Hanagata may deserve their rubber battle.



Date:  Tuesday, July 11, 2017


Location:  Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan

Promoter:  Watanabe Gym Promotions / Mr. Kazutaka Yoshiro

Supervisor:  Leon Panoncillo, Jr.

Referee:  Katsuhiko Nakamura 

Judges:  Takeshi Shimakawa (96-95), Surat Soikrachang (94-97), Masakazu Murase (95-95)

Results:  The WBO Female Atomweight Title was kept by the Champion Nao Ikeyama and held to a split draw against Saemi Hanagata.


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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.

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