April 23rd is set to be a huge day in Asian boxing with two world title fights taking place in Osaka. One of those is a WBA Flyweight title fight, as Japanese icon Kazuto Ioka (21-1, 13) defends his title against massively experienced Thai veteran Noknoi Sitthiprasert (62-4, 38), who is on a 61 fight winning run at the moment!
Of the two men the more well known is Ioka. He's a former unified Minimumweight champion who is currently enjoying a world title reign in a third division. During his career he has scored a number of notable victories, including wins over Oleydong Sithsamerchai, Akira Yaegashi, Juan Hernandez Navarrete and Juan Carlos Reveco. In fact for a fighter with just 22 fights Ioka has a genuinely brilliant record, including a 13-1 (8) record in world fights.
Although a talented pure boxer Ioka has shown an ability to do pretty much anything in the ring, with a real expertise in body punching. At his best he's an out-side boxer, but he's one who can stand and trade in the trenches, as he did did brilliantly against Keyvin Lara, and can have a fire fight when he needs to. Defensively he's criminally under-rated and has filled out in to a very strong Flyweight. It's worth noting that fighters can shut him down with calculated pressure, and he was seriously shaken up last time out by Stamp Kiatniwat, who dropped him, but he has real grit and determination.
At times it looked like Ioka was going to struggle to make an impact at Flyweight and in his first bout at the weight he was out boxed and out muscled by Amnat Ruenroeng. Since then however he has developed into a fully fledged Flyweight and very few fighters at the weight will match him for power, speed and physical strength.
When we talk about great winning runs we talk about the likes of Floyd Mayweather Jr and Rocky Marciano, who both ended their careers unbeaten, along with the likes of Willie Pep, Sugar Ray Robinson and Julio Cesar Chavez. What all those fighters have in common, other than an impressive winning run, is some wins of real quality. The same cannot be said of Noknoi who has scored 61 straight wins, but none of huge significance. In fact during his 66 fight career his best win is likely to be his 2013 win against Kenichi Horikawa, a good fight but a Japanese domestic level one at best.
Not only is the 61 fight winning run impressive on paper in terms of it's number but also it's date, with Noknoi's last loss coming back in March 2005. Sadly though he has shown little signs of having become a world class fighter. He's still relatively basic and does nothing out of the ordinary, in fact it's barely even fair to say he's “ordinary” in terms of what he's shown so far. Many of his opponents have been dire and Noknoi has simply been a bottom feeder, with his management really getting the dregs of the regional scene for him. Despite being 30 years old and a professional for more than 14 years he really hasn't been made to develop his skills or show any real progression in terms of what he can do in the ring.
Sadly for Noknoi his team's almost fraudulent record padding will be exposed here. The skills he has learned and develop simply won't be enough to keep Ioka honest. Instead of being a test Noknoi will be a human punching bag for Ioka, who will tag the Thai at will, and will likely secure a stoppage in the middle rounds of the bout. Likely without having any problems at all.
For Ioka a win would be his 5th defense of the title and could set up some interesting match ups against the likes of Zou Shiming, Takuya Kogawa, Andrew Selby Toshiyuki Igarashi or even Yodmongkol Vor Saengthep. Ir would also see him become just the second Japanese male to win 14 world title fights, tying equal with Yoko Gushiken! For Noknoi a loss could force him into retirement, or could see his team continue to pad one of the most paper thin records in the sport today.
World Title Previews
The biggest fights get broken down as we try to predict who will come out on top in the up coming world title bouts.