Saya Ito Wins WPMF Women's Pinweight Title In Thailand14-year-old “Muay Thai Genius” Saya Ito added another prestigious title to her immense collection on Saturday at the Queen of Thailand’s Birthday Commemoration event in Bangkok. Ito defeated Pizza Sor. Thipjaroen for the undisputed WPMF Women’s Pinweight Championship at 100 pounds.

Ito captured the interim pinweight title in December when she stopped Thai opponent Muangsingjiew Oh. Wanchud. In June, Sor. Thipjaroen travelled to Tokyo and upset Japanese champion Chiharu to claim the true pinweight strap. Ito unified the two title belts with her victory on Saturday night.


Ito (77-10-3; 22 KOs) has won countless titles during her ten-year career that dates back to age four. On December 9th, just five days after she defeated Oh. Wanchud for the World Professional Muaythai Federation (WPMF) interim title, Ito made history by becoming a four-division champion for the M-1 promotion. She has held M-1 titles at 35kg, 40kg, 45kg and, most recently, at 50kg. More impressively, the majority of Ito’s fights have come against male opponents who have often held a significant size and strength advantage over the Shobukai standout.

On April 3rd, Ito returned to Thailand to compete at 105 pounds against an 18-year-old opponent. She fought through a badly bloodied nose early in the fight to earn a hard-fought decision victory after five rounds. The win kept Ito on track for a shot at the WPMF Women’s Pinweight Championship, and after the belt changed hands in June, Ito finally received her chance to compete for the title on Saturday.

She made the most of the opportunity.

In spite of her young age, Ito remained calm and composed throughout the action-packed five-round title fight. She used her stellar striking technique to get the better of the exchanges with Sor. Thipjaroen and maintained that advantage until the final bell. The ringside judges rewarded Ito for her performance with a Unanimous Decision victory that yielded one of her most coveted championships to date.


WPMF Women's Pinweight Champion Saya Ito
WPMF Women’s Pinweight Champion Saya Ito


With 90 bouts under her belt, Ito’s biggest challenge has been finding fights at all. Having exhausted nearly all potential opponents in Japan, the majority of Ito’s recent fights have taken place in Thailand, where she has begun to make a name for herself against some of the country’s top female talent.

Over the past two years, Ito has tasted defeat only twice. One loss came at the hands of 16-year-old Chihiro Imoto (137-18-1), who earned a razor-thin Majority Decision victory over Ito in the finals of the 2011 Jewels 46kg kickboxing tournament. Imoto has since moved up in weight and has won a pair of professional fights for the ACCEL promotion, where she holds the 48kg women’s title. It remains to be seen whether the teen prodigies will meet for a second time.

Leslie Smith and Go Yamamoto contributed to this report.



(Top Photo Credit: Yuichiro Suzuki | Middle Photo Credit: Matt VanHoose/Shobukai)