Note spoilers below.
Japanese fighter Kazuto Ioka (15-1, 9) has spent much of the last 4 years either as a world champion or as a man challenging for a world title. Today however he found himself fighting in his first none world title bout since 2010 as he battled Colombian hard man Pablo Carrillo (15-3-1, 8).
Despite the relegation from world title fights to non-title 10 rounders Ioka managed to show the traits of a world champion as he took immediate control of the bout with his sharp jab that kept the shorter Carrillo at bay early on. Carrillo attempted to fight back with wild right hands though they failed to connect with any notable success as Ioka remained calm and showed world class poise and calmness, especially in round 2 as Carrillo tried to turn up the heat.
Ioka saw off the storm and began to work the body of Carrillo before the Colombian started to have success with counters in the middle rounds as Ioka was forced to work for his. The talent level between the two was clear though Carrillo hadn't traveled around the world to just pick up a loss and was trying to make a fight of it.
In round 9 Ioka seemed to feel his man was waning and picked up the attack, though Carrillo refused to go down as Ioka went for the kill. The final round was the best of the bout and brought the crowd to their feet with Ioka continuing his assault and Carrillo showing his toughness.
Although Carrillo had impressed with his toughness he was a clear lose dropping a decision with cards of 98-92, 99-93 and 99-91 all in favour of Ioka.
It seems likely that Ioka will be attempting to get a second crack a Flyweight title later this year and a rematch with Ruenroeng has been mooted for New Year's Eve. On the back of this performance however Ioka still doesn't look like an elite Flyweight and unfortunately for him he's in a division with some truly exceptional fighters such as Roman Gonzalez. We would advise he holds off on a world title bout for now and takes another fight to develop into the 112lb division. He's clearly talented but needs to pick his next few fights a little bit more carefully than he'd perhaps be used to due to how strong the division is right now.