One man who had, essentially, bridged the last generation into this current one is WBA Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (22-1, 13) [井岡一翔]. However reports in Japan are suggesting that his career might be set to come to an end following issues withhis manager, father and gym chairman Kazunori Ioka.
Sources are reporting that the two have essentially not spoken since the summer, and that the fighter is unhappy about a number of these. They range from how his career has gone in recent times, with a failure of his team to deliver big fights against notable opponents and getting him international exposure, to more personal issues, such as his father opposing his marriage to pop singer Nana Tanimura, and issues relating to his father's tax, which was a big story last year. Unless something can be sorted, it seems like Ioka will pretty much qiuit the sport and head into retirement.
Back in August Ioka was ordered to face Ukraine based Azerbaijani born fighter Artem Dalakian (15-0, 11) in a WBA mandatory but it appears that nothing has has been done for the bout from Ioka's team due to the issues betwen the fighter and his father. If the situation isn't sorted swiftly it's likely that Ioka will be stripped of the title, which could potentially lead to Dalakian facing #2 ranked Yodmongkol Vor Saengthep (47-3, 32) [ยอดมงคล ซีพีเฟรชมาร์ท].
From what we understand Ioka is likely to request a gym transfer, but unless his father allows him to transfer there will have to be a large fee paid to the Ioka gym and it could be a time consuming process, if Ioka doesn't retire as some are suggesting it might.
It's going to be interesting to see wherethis story goes in the coming weeks, but for the sake of Japanese boxing we really hope it gets sorted. Ioka is one of the biggest names in Japanese boxing, and with recent retirements the country really could do without losiing another internationally recognised fighter.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)