“Muay Thai Genius” Saya Ito added another impressive win to her 84-fight kickboxing record on Sunday night at Shobukai: “Muaylok 2012 – 2nd” in Tokyo, Japan. Ito defeated fellow 13-year-old prospect Yukari Yamaguchi via a razor-thin decision after two action-packed and competitive rounds.
Ito, who often competes against male opponents due to a lack of high-level competition in the junior girls’ division, had a tough fight on her hands on Sunday. Her wealth of experience showed in round two, however, and she kept the aggressive Yamaguchi at bay with kicks to take the close victory.
Ito (71-10-3) opened the fight with body kicks as the southpaw Yamaguchi (3-1-0) pressed forward with punches. Yamaguchi threw a head kick and followed with a left cross. She closed the distance and secured a Thai clinch, causing Ito to lose her balance. In the final minute, Ito began to use her kicks to keep Yamaguchi at a distance. The strategy proved to be an effective one, but Yamaguchi still managed to land more punches before the end of the round.
Saya Ito (left) defeats Yukari Yamaguchi (right) at Muaylok 2012 – 2nd.
In the second stanza, Ito continued to find success with a variety of kicks. She landed front kicks and a series of right middle kicks that stifled Yamaguchi’s offence and stopped her forward momentum. Yamaguchi caught a kick from Ito and tripped her to the mat, but Ito got back to her feet and continued to score with more strikes. As the round came to an end, Yamaguchi used her reach advantage to jump in and out with punching combinations in an effort to avoid body kicks from Ito.
At the end of two rounds, the fight went to the scorecards. One judge ruled the bout even, while the remaining two awarded the fight to Ito, who earned a solid win for her Shobukai team. Yamaguchi, a top young prospect fighting out of the Hakushinkai Karate dojo, suffered her first kickboxing loss with the narrow defeat.
Winner: Saya Ito by Majority Decision (20-19, 20-19, 19-19) after two 2:00 rounds. She improves her amateur kickboxing record to 71-10-3.
Go Yamamoto contributed to this report.
(Photo Credits: GBRing.com)