Former Shoot Boxing Japan Women’s Flyweight Champion Ai Takahashi picked up a hard-fought victory in her J-Girls kickboxing debut on Sunday night at J-Girls: “The Shining Wild Angels 2nd” in Tokyo, Japan. Takahashi narrowly defeated reigning J-Girls Bantamweight Champion Madoka Jinnai.
The non-title main event bout between Takahashi and Jinnai was an action-packed affair and Takahashi’s aggressive striking was just enough to earn a Split Decision win after an extension round. In her pro debut, highly-touted 16-year-old Yukari Yamaguchi destroyed Megumi Igawa in 68 seconds.
Takahashi (20-5-0 KB/SB) pressed forward with one-two combinations right away that were met by chopping leg kicks from Jinnai (15-5-0 KB), who circled away from Takahashi’s right hand. Takahashi did not let up with her punches, but Jinnai continued to punish her lead leg with powerful kicks. Jinnai began to throw front and side kicks to the body, and Takahashi caught one and dumped her to the mat. Takahashi landed some kicks of her own in the final 40 seconds and Jinnai was given a Yellow Card just before the bell for pulling her opponent’s head down in the clinch.
The pace remained high in round two and both women landed some nice punches early on. Jinnai used more front kicks to the body to keep Takahashi at bay. Takahashi tripped her on two occasions and she was warned for the infractions. Jinnai countered more punches from Takahashi with hard leg kicks and she followed with combinations of punches and jumping kicks to the midsection. Shortly before the bell, Jinnai landed four body kicks and Takahashi responded with a pair of right hooks.
Jinnai’s varied arsenal of kicks allowed her to avoid most of Takahashi’s power punches in the final round, but Takahashi connected with two lunging right hands. Both women landed punches and knees in the clinch and Takahashi backed Jinnai up to the ropes with two more right hooks. She swarmed on her foe with punches and Jinnai tried to counter with body kicks. Takahashi caught one and tripped Jinnai again. The referee gave her a Yellow Card for the foul and the bell sounded seconds later.
At the end of three 2:00 rounds, the judges ruled the bout a Split Draw. One judge saw the fight 30-29 for Takahashi, while another had it 30-29 for Jinnai. The third and final judge scored it even at 29-29 and an extension round was called for in order to determine a winner.
The tired fighters traded punches early in the extension round and Jinnai stuck to her earlier strategy of targeting Takahashi’s leg and body with kicks. Takahashi responded with hard right hands and she landed one of her best combinations of the fight. The final 30 seconds consisted of Jinnai kicking to the body and Takahashi firing off overhand rights.
One judge scored the close extension round 10-9 in Jinnai’s favour. The remaining two both had it 10-9 for Takahashi, who walked away with a narrow decision win in the featured “Shoot Boxing vs J-Girls” matchup. Takahashi has won 13 of her past 16 fights. Her three defeats during that time all came against two-time Shoot Boxing Girls S-Cup 53.5kg Champion Mizuki Inoue.
Winner: Ai Takahashi by Split Decision (10-9, 10-9, 9-10) after one 2:00 extension round and four rounds overall. She improves her combined kickboxing and shoot boxing record to 20-5-0.
In one of many featured bouts on the J-Girls preliminary card, Yamaguchi (12-2-0 amateur, 1-0-0 pro), the younger teammate of the aforementioned Mizuki Inoue, made a successful pro kickboxing debut by demolishing Igawa (5-8-3 KB/SB), whose professional experience edge proved to be a non-factor.
The 47.63kg (104.8-pound) mini flyweight bout began with Yamaguchi overpowering her opponent with a barrage of punches. Igawa had no answer for the southpaw’s quick and precise strikes and she was dropped by a flurry of punches. Igawa got back to her feet, but Yamaguchi rushed right back in and unloaded with punches until the fight was stopped just past the 1:00 mark of round one.
Yamaguchi, who turned 16 three days before the fight, is Japan’s top female prospect and some expect her to eventually surpass the success that has been achieved by her teammate, Inoue.
Winner: Yukari Yamaguchi by TKO (Punches) at 1:08 of round one. She improves to 1-0-0 as a professional kickboxer and 13-2-0 overall.
(Photo Credit: Shoot Boxing)