A story coming out of Japan suggests that if Kazuto Ioka (14-0, 9) is successful in his up coming IBF Flyweight title challenge over Amnat Ruenroeng (12-0, 5) he may not be sticking around long to saviour his victory and instead of defend belt he will immediately vacate.
The former 2-weight world champion has stated in the past that he wants to become Japan's first ever 5 weight world champion. Although still very young and with plenty of fighting years ahead of him it does seem like Ioka is in a rush to achieve that feat and by giving up the IBF Flyweight title he would be signifying an immediate move up to the Super Flyweight division.
Whilst a fighter giving up a belt immediately isn't that rare it tends to be done by a fighter going back down the weights not straight up again. What would be particularly interesting if Ioka was to move up would be that he would then be fighting in the same division as Japan's only other 3 weight world champion Koki Kameda.
Kameda is himself campaigning at Super Flyweight in an attempt to become Japan's first ever 4 weight world champion with a bout against Kohei Kono being very much expected later this year. If Ioka however can win the IBF tite and vacate it he may well be able to lure Kono into fighting him and not Kameda, a move that would really elevate Ioka to Japanese boxing legend.
Although Ioka will be viewing himself as a possible 4 weight world champion by the end of 2014 many fans will rightfully be asking about the fights he could have had with the likes of Roman Gonzalez, a rematch with Akira Yaegashi or even a bout with someone like Juan Carlos Reveco or Juan Francisco Estrada. Whilst we can't pretend that we'd not be disappointing by those fights not happening we would forgive Ioka if he settled at 115 and fought some fop fighters such as Kono, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, Omar Andres Narvaez, Koki or Felipe Orucuta.
The future could see Ioka's plans changing but if things go as speculated then it could be an interesting development in not only his career but also the development of the 115lb weight class and the move towards Japanese fighters going through the weights on the global scene. We've seen Japanese fighters typically stay at their weight whilst the American fighters have gone through the divisions, if the Japanese follow the American mentality then we imagine they will start to get more recognition state side rather than often being ignored by the American boxing media.
(Image thanks to http://www.ioka-boxing.com)
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