On September 27th we'll see Ioka return to the ring as he looks to make the first defense of his WBA Flyweight title. In the other corner will be Argentinian challenger Roberto Domingo Sosa (26-2-1, 14).
Ioka first came to the attention of international boxing fans back in 2011 when he claimed the first of his world titles, the WBC Minimumweight title. That was in Ioka's 7th professional bout and it saw him conquering the long time champion Oleydong Sithsamerchai. The win was a break out win for the youngster, though those in Japan knew he was a talented youngster given that he had been matched hard from debut and been following in the footsteps of his uncle, Hiroki Ioka.
Ioka's early rise saw him defending his first world title twice before he unified titles at Minimumweight, with a win over compatriot Akira Yaegashi. He later went on to claim a Light Flyweight title, that he defended 3 times. In 2014 he finally made a move up to the exciting Flyweight division though came up short in his first title bout there, losing a decision to Amnat Ruenroeng in a bout for the IBF title. Since that loss he has won 3 in a row, including a decision last time out against Juan Carlos Reveco to claim the WBA Flyweight title.
At his best Ioka is an excellent boxer who excels at mind range where he can use his speed and skills. He was, clearly out, sped and out muscled by Ruenroeng, who is of course an enigma to fight at the best of times. Other than that loss however he has been proven to be a world class boxer who can hold his own in an up close fight if need be. His greatest offensive weapon is his straight right hand to the body, which has seen off numerous foes. At Flyweight however he does look a little light-weight and looks like he could be over-powered by a number of the divisions top fighters. Although just 26 years old he looks like he has already found his divisional ceiling.
Whilst Ioka is a recognised world level fighter the same cannot be said of Sosa, despite a few notable wins on his record.
The Argentinian fighter began his career back in 2006 and ran up 24 straight wins, including a very notable decision victory over South African fighter Zolani Tete. The Tete bout was an IBF world title eliminator and is, still, the biggest win on his record. Unfortunately since then he has gone 2-2-1 with losses to Juan Carlos Sanchez Jr, in an IBF title fight, and the little known Diego Luis Pichardo Liriano, who beat him last November. As well as those two set backs he was also held to a draw against Javier Nicolas Chacon. Despite that run of form the WBA have allowed him to fight for a world title.
Footage of Sosa shows that he's nothing special. He may hold a victory over Tete but that result seemed to say more about the judging than Sosa's ability, which seemed distinctly average despite the fact he did show some guts, especially late, to turn the fight around and claim the narrow win. He looks to be a battler and one who is very difficult to discourage, but ability wise there is little that stands out other than his will to win and toughness.
Whilst he's technically not outstanding Sosa is a fighter who has carved out his career at Super Flyweight and will, as a result, have significant size and strength advantages over Ioka. That could be his key advantage here, though could also be an issue for the visitor who has only weighed in as a Flyweight once in his previous 29 bouts. Incidentally he has only fought outside of Argentina once, his loss to Sanchez in 2013.
On paper this looks like it could be a tough test for Ioka who will actually need to be at his best to over-come the determined Sosa. If Ioka looks to have a fight with Argentinian he could in trouble given the natural size difference between the two men, and the fact Ioka still doesn't look like a fully fledged Flyweight. Saying that however Ioka should be able to box and move, avoid a slug-fest and take a decision victory.
We suspect that Ioka wins “comfortably” on the cards but is given some really tough moments when Sosa does cut the distance and gets to him. Those moments however will serve as a warning to Ioka and put him back on the right track.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)