It's fair to say that boxing in 2017 has been unpredictable, wild, exciting, thrilling and a little, tiny bit crazy! Right up until the end of the year. The final story of which broke at around 23:20, local time, on News Year's Eve in Japan and was the sudden, albeit not totally unexpected, retirement of former 3-weight world champion Kazuto Ioka (22-1, 13) [井岡一翔] who announced his retirement live on part of the Kyokugen show, which he had regularly fought on.
The fighter, who hasn't fought since April, had fallen out with his father and manager Kazunori Ioka following Kazuto getting married to pop singer Nana Tanimura. The fallout from that had, according to Japanese press, lead to fighter and father not speaking for months and subsequently lead to Ioka vacating the WBA Flyweight title, rather than face mandatory challenger Artem Dalakian (15-0, 11).
Retirement had been rumoured since the title was vacated in November but, in almost typical fashion, Ioka left it until New Year's Eve to make a statement and officially announce his retirement.
The fighter had claimed world titles at Minimumweight, where he unified the WBA and WBC titles, and both Light Flyweight and Flyweight, claiming the WBA title at both weight. During his short career he scored notable victories over the likes of Oleydong Sithsamerchai, Juan Hernandez Navarette, Akira Yaegashi,, Wisanu Kokietgym, Kwanthai Sithmorseng, Felix Alvarado, Juan Carlos Reveco and Stamp Kiatniwat.
Having debuted in April 2009 he raced through the ranks, winning the Japanese Light Flyweight title in his 6th fight and then the WBC Minimumweight title in his 7th professional bout, then a record for a Japanese fighter. He would later go on to become the boxing face of TBS and one of the biggest stars in Japanese boxing. Sadly though frustrations with match making, a lack of compelling opponents and the issues regarding his wedding have all lead to a clear break down with his father, and the chairman of the Ioka gym.
Although it's unclear on what Ioka will do going forward with life we would like to wish him the best. He likely falls short of the Hall of Fame, and is clearly young enough to have a ring return down the line, but for now he seems happy away from boxing, and hopefully he'll continue to have a good life away from the ring. In a perfect world 2018 will see him and his father reconcile, put their difference behind them and sort things out. Though we don't live in a perfect world and instead we;d like to wish Ioka a good life going forward in life, whether boxing is involved or not.
Yesterday we saw Japanese sensation Naoya Inoue (15-0, 13) [井上 尚弥] record his 7th defense of the WBO Super Flyweight, as he scoreda stoppage win against French challenger Yoan Boyeaux (41-5, 26). The fight, which appears to be Inoue's final one at Super Flyweight, was an excellent performance, especially with his body punching which essentially broke the challenger.
Today Inoue attended a press conference, held at the Ohashi gym, to talk about the fight and his future.
The fighter stated that he thought the bout with Boyeaux had been complicated but on reviewing the footage it seems he was more pleased with his performance than he had been originally. He admitted that he had found the left hook to the body and built on the success it had, something that was pretty clear to those watching.
He spoke about how his move to Bantamweight will see him being the challenger and that he will be starting over from the beginning. Interesting he mentioned fighting a South African, although he didn't seem to name names, and fighting in the UK. To those who like simple puzzles that would be a clear suggestion that he's happy to travel to the United Kingdom to face WBO Bantamweight champion Zolani Tete (26-3, 21), in what would be a mouth watering clash.
Interesting if Inoue does travel to the UK and beat Tete, he could create several little bits of history, including becoming the first Japanese fighter to win a world title in Europe and potentially tie the record of fewest fights to become a 3-weight champion, a record set at 16 fights by Australian great Jeff Fenech.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Yesterday fight fans had the chance to see WBC Light Flyweight champion Ken Shiro (12-0, 6) [拳 四朗] record his second defense of his world title, as he stopped Panamanian challenger Gilberto Pedroza (18-4-2, 8) in 4 rounds.
The bout was Ken Shiro's nationally televised debut thanks to the Fuji network and today he took part in a notable press conference speaking about the fight, and the attention he has had since the fight.
He stated that he had wanted to raise his profile with an impressive vitory and it seemed like he was happy with the way he fought. It seems like his Social media accounts have gone hectic since the performance with a lot of new followers on both Twitter and Instagram and from the sounds of things he has impressed those at Fuji TV.
According to his team the next defense is planned to be against Ganigan Lopez (28-7, 17) with them looking to get the bout made for the first half of 2018, though no date has been set. It seems his team are also happy with his development and the improvement with both his movement and power, and those as keys to over-coming Lopez more clearly than he did in his title win, back in May of this year.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
On Saturday IBF Minimumweight champion Hiroto Kyoguchi (8-0, 6) [京口 紘人] and Nicaraguan challenger Carlos Buitrago (30-2-1-1, 17) both made weight for their world title fight, which takes place later on Sunday. Earlier today, in Japan it's Sunday as we're writing this, both men had to under-go a second weigh in as part of the IBF's rules.
Today's weigh in set both men a new target above the divisional limit, and either man failed the weight they would be unable to walk tonight as the champion.
Thankfully however both men made weight this morning, coming in under the IBF limit for the same day weigh in.
On the scakes this morning Kyoguchi was 113.3lbs, putting on around 8.5lbs over night. Despite the increase the fighter looked in great shape on the scales this morning and seemed full of confidence. That confidence shone through and seemed to be helped by the fact he had had a good night's sleep, something that hadn't happened before the previous weigh in, for which he seemed to suggest he had had about 3.5 hours sleep.
Buitrago on the other hand camein at just over 113lbs, having put on a significant amount over night. On the original weigh in he had been well under the limit at 103.8lbs but put on over 9lbs over night and looked like he had hydrated extremely well for the contest.
Related-Kyoguchi looks for first defense against talented Buitrago!
(Image courtesy of hochi.co.jp)
Just moments ago Japanese fight fans at the Bunka Gym in Yokohama got the chance to see 2012 Olympic bronze medal winner, and current OPBF Featherweight champion, Satoshi Shimizu (5-0, 5) [清水 聡] record his first defense of the title that he won this past October. The talented, and heavy handed, Japanese fighter from the Ohashi stable was facing off with gutsy Filipino challenger Eduardo Mancito (15-8-2, 9) but made the bout look like a relatively one sided show case, bouncing Mancito off the canvas a number of times.
The challenger came to fight and showed that from the off as he came out trying to attack Shimizu, but lacked the nuances needed to to get inside the much taller man. Instead Shimizu picked him off and scored a knockdown in the opening round.
Thanks to the knockdown Shimizu was winning 40-35 when the scorecards were announced, but Mancito wasn't going to go without a fight and continued to try and break down the champion. This came at a price and in round 5 the champion landed some heavy blows on the challenger, and scored the second, and third, knockdowns of the fight.
In round 7 Mancito was down again, and this time Shimizu wasn't letting him off the hook, going for the finish and forcing the referee in to stop the bout.
Prior to this OPBF title fight fans in the arena had seen Takuma Inoue (10-0, 2) [井上 拓真] take a competitive but clear decision win over former 2-time Japanese Bantamweight champion Kentaro Masuda (27-9, 15) [益田 健太郎], with Masuda refusing to ever quit and coming on strong late on. They had also seen Koki Inoue (10-0, 9) [浩樹井上] stop Korean visitor Dong Hee Kim (8-2-2, 3) in 4 rounds, whilst Ohashi novices Kazuki Nakajima (3-0, 2) [中嶋一輝] and Katsuya Yasuda (2-0, 1) [保田克也] had to settle for 6 round decision wins.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
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