Naoko Fujioka vs Yokasta Valle In Tokyo In December
By Yuriko Miyata
Finally, four-division world champion Naoko Fujioka gets a chance for a fifth crown and fifth weight division. It’s a dream that she has targeted for a long time.
A 10-round contest for the vacant WBO light flyweight title between Fujioka (16-2, 7 KOs) and Costa Rica’s undefeated Yokasta Valle (13-0, 6 KOs), the IBF straw weight champion, is set for December 1st at the famous Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan.
“I am so happy to know it’s confirmed at length,” said Fujioka with a smile and a sigh. She already holds world titles in the strawweight, flyweight, super flyweight and bantamweight divisions. Now she wants the light flyweight belt around her waist. It’s the only one missing.
It was mid-August when her team got an initial offer from Valle’s side for the fight originally planned for September 9th in Puerto Rico. Despite the last-minute offer, she decided to take the chance and tried hard to make 108 lbs within a few weeks. It ended up a big disappointment as the contract was never completed nor sent to her. But now another offer came back in a better design for Japan’s best female fighter by Valles team.
“It’s lucky for me to have the fight in Tokyo. That way I can show my record-making performance to my all supporters. But I know anything can happen until I see Yokasta in the ring. So, I would like her to keep away from any trouble and to come safely to my country.”
To conquer five different weight divisions in boxing has been her dream since she first received wide recognition as one of the top pound for pound boxers in the world in recent years. It sounded a little bombastic when she first spoke about it on the podium in the Japanese Boxing Award (for 2015) in early 2016, but now she is almost there despite uneasy days.
Amanda Wins Race for Fifth
A week after she obtained the WBO flyweight championship as her fourth world title with a 10th round TKO victory over Isabel Millan of Mexico in March this year, Fujioka lost her beloved mother to a chronic lung disease. Having missed the biggest supporter who had been hoping for her daughter’s dream to come true, another discouragement hit Fujioka a month later. In April, Amanda Serrano of Puerto Rico became the very first female fighter to win five world titles in five divisions.
“I was so cut up. Five divisions was my goal because nobody has done that before. It was the motivation for me to be the first one. I was too late.”
But she found a new dream soon after that. When she visited Los Angeles for the first time in May, she got an aspiration to fight in the United States. After meeting with promoters, trainers, and female champions with the help of David Avila, it inspired her a lot.
“As a boxer, I want to see if I can entertain true boxing fans in America. To fascinate people here (in the U.S.) is the way to be a truly big name.”
As her eyes opened and she manifested it, her surroundings started changing.
“I feel like, a big wave is coming to my life since I put it into words that ‘I want to be a real deal in America!’ on many occasions. People stand up to promote me. They say that the popularity does not meet what I accomplished.”
The number of supporting companies and sponsors has increased to 19 now. A popular videographer visited her gym to gather materials to create her promotional video ( http://youtu.be/JrBrhcgiks8 ). And it is on giant monitors located in front of major stations such as Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ikebukuro and Akihabara. The exposure must have gathered her tremendous attention to the challenge toward her fifth division world championship bid on December 1st.
But it is not the final destination for her anymore. Fujioka now wants to make a good step toward jumping into the American fight scene with five belts.
“I know Yokasta (Valle) is a tough opponent with a huge motivation to get her second world title, but I will carry the day. And do my best to outclass her to show off myself. And then the only one thing I want to do is fight in the U.S.”
It’s a new ambition that encourages the boxer who is now in her prime at the age of 42.