As with many fighters included on this list, Kazuto Ioka would not have been mentioned, at all, on a list for the previous decade. Prior to 2010 Ioka was 3-0 (2). He was very, very, highly touted but a total professional novice with no profile outside of his homeland. Today however he is the first Japan man to win world titles in 4 weight classes, and he is a man who, in a relatively short amount of time, has run up a really impressive resume.
Ioka's first title was the Japanese Light Flyweight title, in October 2010, and since then he has really been a staple at world level. He took his first world title by beating the then 35-0-1 Oleydong Sithsamerchai, made his first defense against future WBC Flyweight champion Juan Hernandez and unified the WBC and WBA titles with Akira Yaegashi. That alone was impressive, but to then go up in weight, claim he WBA Light Flyweight title and score several defenses, including an excellent one of current world champion Felix Alvarado, was great. He of course came up short in his first shot at a Flyweight title, but eventually found his groove in the division and scored 2 wins over Juan Carlos Reveco. A short retirement in 2017/2018 followed before he again impressed in a new weight, beating McWilliams Arroyo, and later claimed the WBO Super Flyweight title. That's the title he defended at the end of 2019, beating 2-time Olympian Jeyvier Cintron, in what was the final title fight of the decade.
With 2 losses, to go along side his 22 wins for the decade Ioka has been active, he's moved through the weights, he's claimed wins over notable opponents, unified titles, and become a genuine star. The early potential he showed has been realised, and realised in impressive fashion.
Sadly for Ioka, and as with a number of other fighters on this list, the number of poor defenses pulls him down the ranking. Wins over the likes of Yodgoen Tor Chalermchai, Wisanu Kokietgym, Noknoi Sitthiprasert and Keyvin Lara, did little to show he wanted to consistently prove himself. They showed that whilst he was happy with the big names, they weren't his biggest focus. Sadly this likely comes down to the Ioka team in general, who fed Kazuto some poor defenses, but at the end of the day we expect more from our top ranking guys on this list. His pursuit of big bouts in the new decade is great, and he's made it clear he wants to face Juan Francicsco Estrada in 2020, but the fact those types of bouts didn't come off in the last decade are a real shame.
Thankfully since leaving his father's guidance Ioka has shown a willingness to prove himself again, and hopefully that will continue into the new decade with the big fights someone of his ability and popularity deserves.
When we have some free time we're hoping to add a series of fun articles to the site. Hopefully these will be enjoyable little short features