By Joe Koizumi
Photos by Naoki Fukuda
Do you know who’s a current world champion under 100 pounds? The WBO female atomweight titlist Nao Ikeyama is the one. Do you know who’s the oldest current world champ? Nao, 47 years old, is the one, too. Nao Ikeyama (18-3-3, 5 KOs), 99.5, barely kept her WBO 102-pound belt as she was held to a split draw (96-94, 94-96, 95-95) by younger and fresher Saemi Hanagata (13-6-4, 7 KOs), 101.75, over ten hard-fought rounds on Tuesday in Tokyo, Japan.
It’s Nao’s sixth successful defense, and the tallies were completely same as their previous encounter with the WBO belt at stake in June of the previous year. Hanagata, fifteen years her junior, took the initiative with her opening attack, but the veteran champ, having fought since 2003, came back hard with her trademark non-stop attack in the second half. Hanagata may deserve their rubber battle.
In the main event, Nihito Arakawa (30-6-1, 17 KOs), 134.5, kept his WBO Asia Pacific lightweight belt when he halted Filipino Marbon Bodiongan (14-6-2, 11 KOs), 132, at 1:18 of the sixth session in a scheduled twelve. The Japanese veteran southpaw kept punching the less experienced Filipino and had him doubled up with his persistent body attacks prior to the stoppage. The champ made him kneel down, and when he resumed fighting and the champ swarmed over him, referee Fukuchi didn’t hesitate to wave it off.