Momo Koseki Victorious and National Title Results
By Yuriko Miyata
WBC atomweight champion Momo Koseki (24-2-1, 9KOs) beat WBC strawweight titleholder Yuko Kuroki (17-5-1, 8KOs) by unanimous decision to become a ruler of two weight divisions on Saturday in Fukuoka, Kyusyu, southwest island of Japan.
The longest reigning champion at any weight doubled her titles with the victory, but it was much more than that. The humble and largely unknown champion proved to be among the best of the lighter weights and that her 17 consecutive title defense is legitimate.
Koseki, 35, was getting in the ring as a challenger for the first time in nine and a half years. She started a furious attack from the very moment of the opening bell and the rhythm she set forth never diminished throughout the fight.
Yuko Kuroki was baffled at the start but she kept trying to find any room or chance to land her vaunted strong left cross. The two southpaw champions have always shown respect for each other’s fighting styles and careers.
“I have to be very careful not to take Yuko’s punches which has more power than mine,” Koseki said before the fight.
Yuko Kuroki walked into the ring looking for a knockout win.
“Momo knows how to look better in the ring. I have to think that I cannot win if it goes to a decision,” Kuroki explained on why she was intent on a knockout.
Momo Koseki pressed forward constantly with the right hand up high to block Kuroki’s left cross.
But after the fourth round the WBC’s open score system announced that Momo Koseki was ahead by 39-37 twice and one judge at 38-38.
Knowing the lead was in hand Koseki was comfortable to go inside to connect short punches to improve the dominance to 67-66, 68-65, and 69-64 after the seventh round.
Yuko Kuroki tried harder and finally caught and shook the challenger with her straight left straight cross as the clock was approaching near the end of the eighth round. But Momo Koseki was sober enough to move to avoid Kuroki’s follow-up attack and finished strong to convince all three judges with the scores of 96-94, 97-93, and 98-92 after 10 furious championship rounds.
“It was very important for me to win in Kuroki’s hometown. Doing harder things makes me happier,” Koseki told the press while smiling blissfully after the triumph.
Momo Koseki now holds another championship belt but the one that she carried in her bag for every fight the past nine years was left at home this time. Going to this fight without the belt showed her determination as a challenger.
As an atom weight world champion Koseki had 17 defenses of the WBC 102 pound title. She beat then-champion of the WBO Nao Ikeyama, and added the WBA crown via superb victory over Ayaka Miyao in 2015 to unify the world titles.
Still, she wanted something challenging that would entice her passion as a fighter to finish up her almost 20 years in the beautiful life of boxing. She just wanted that extra spark in the ring by facing Kuroki, and also to contribute to Japanese female boxing’s growing stock.
“I wanted this fight, I was thinking of fighting with her for about a year long. I think I could fight cool this time much better than when I fought against Ayaka. I am happy to see the improvement. But I don’t have any idea now what to do next. I will think about it with my coach.”
Any great boxer cannot shine without good rivals. Koseki was always longing for it and knew she could get that incentive because Kuroki is a superb competitor.
When the scores were announced the younger champion accepted the decision graciously. After the first loss in four years, Kuroki talked in good spirits to the media.
“I am fine. I am going to do it all over again to be a better boxer. I was tense and nervous when I should have not been. That was why I could not move well and took punches. It was just my weakness. It was not easy to make up my mind how to deal with Momo this time. Now I am uncrowned, but my dream is to be an undisputed champion. What I have to do is to keep fighting and winning to make my dream come true.”
After 10 rounds she was content to battle with Koseki the queen of 17 defenses. It motivated the 26 year-old pretty and brave woman to improve herself and to be the next big name representing the country as many expect.
Japan national titles
The undercards of the event included three more female fights. Sana Hazuki (6-2-1, 2KOs) who is rated No.1 by Japan Boxing Commission (JBC) fought against JBC # 2 Nanae Suzuki (5-2-1,1KO) for the Japanese atomweight championship, but the six rounds slugfest went to draw with scores of 58-57, 57-58 and 57-57. It was one of the finals of the tournament for the first national title that JBC started this year.
For the semifinal of the flyweight division, JBC # 6 Yumemi Ikemoto (4-1) defeated # 4 Ayaka Sato (4-5-1,2KOs) by unanimous decision with 59-55 twice and 60-54. Ikemoto lead the fight from the first round by knocking Sato down with a right cross and proceeds to the final to face Yuki Koseki in early 2018.
The one fight drawing much attention was a four rounds flyweight contest between a high school student Yume Hirayama and former national soccer player Marina Sayama (2-1, 1KO). The tall southpaw debutant Hirayama made the most of her long jab and left straight to control the opponent to have judges favor her by scores of 40-37 twice and 39-37.
There was another final for the first national championship of featherweights same day in Ishikawa prefecture, but the title is still vacant as JBC#1 Asami Jinnari and JBC # 2 Wakako Fujiwara tied with the scores of 58-57,57-58, and 57-57.
(Photo by Sumio Yamada*)