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.
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