Thirteen-year-old “Muay Thai Genius” Saya Ito faces one of the toughest tests of her 83-fight kickboxing career on June 17th in Tokyo, Japan. Ito is set to battle fellow eighth-grader Yukari Yamaguchi at Shobukai: “Muaylok 2012 – 2nd” in a 44kg bout officially announced on Wednesday.
Ito, who has been training in kickboxing since age four, recently earned her 70th victory. She won the Top Run under-16 girls’ kickboxing tournament in October. Yamaguchi won her brief MMA debut at Jewels: “17th Ring” in December and is coming off of a kickboxing win under the J-Girls banner.
Ito (70-10-3; 20 KOs) has spent much of her career competing against male opponents and she has won numerous titles in both Japan and Thailand. The talented youngster has long been regarded as one of the top young strikers in her country. In late October, she defeated Akane Komori and Yuuki Kira to win a one-night Top Run tournament. Two months later, she battled Chihiro Imoto in the finals of the inaugural Jewels under-15 kickboxing tournament, but dropped a Unanimous Decision. She has since maintained an extremely active schedule, including in other bouts promoted by her Shobukai gym, and now looks for one of her biggest victories to date.
Yamaguchi (3-0-0) gives up a considerable amount of experience in kickboxing competition to her opponent, but she too got an early start in combat sports. At age three, she joined Hakushinkai Karate, where she currently trains alongside top Jewels and Shoot Boxing prospect Mizuki Inoue. Three years later, she took up kickboxing, and jiu-jitsu training followed soon after. This past December, Yamaguchi demolished Nana Ichikawa in her amateur MMA debut, and she now looks to follow in Inoue’s footsteps by splitting time between careers in MMA and kickboxing. Yamaguchi is seen by some as an even brighter prospect than her Hakushinkai teammate and she now aims to score her second kickboxing win of 2012 just two days before she celebrates her 14th birthday.
Shobukai: “Muaylok 2012 – 2nd” takes place on June 17th at Shinjuku FACE in Tokyo, Japan. The bout between Ito and Yamaguchi, billed as the “Muay Thai Genius” versus the “JC Fighting Genius,” will be contested at 44 kilograms over two, two-minute rounds.
(Photo Credit: GBRing.com)