He set his first record back in his 7th bout, when he set a Japanese speed record for fewest fights to a world title, he then became the first fighter to win an all Japanese unification bout, the quickest Japanese fighter to become a 2-weight champion and subsequently a 3-weigth champion.
Today he tied a long standing record for the most wins wins in world title bout by a Japanese fighter, winning his 14th world title bout, and defended the WBA Flyweight title for the 5th time, as he took a wide decision win over the teak tough, but thoroughly out classed, Thai challenger Noknoi Sitthiprasert (62-5, 38) [นกน้อย ซีพีเฟรชมาร์ท].
Coming in to the bout Noknoi had won 61 consecutive bouts, but had been fighting at such a low level that his actually ability was a bit unknown. What we found out today was that his ability wasn't outstanding, but his toughness was incredible as he took a really one sided beating, but managed to survive the 12 rounds.
The bout began slowly enough, but Ioka was the busier fighter in the early stages. The one early break for Noknoi was a point deduction from Ioka in round 3 for a low blow, a low blow that replays showed was a legitimate body shot and one that clearly hurt Noknoi right on the bell. From then on Ioka moved through the gears, with only round 6 being particularly competitive, with both men trading shots with success. It was a round that Noknoi may have won, but one that could easily have gone to the flashier Ioka, who was letting combinations rip to both the head and body.
Despite the point deduction in round 3 the referee seemed to miss numerous low ones from Ioka, who landed some brutal blows to the balls. Despite the low blows and combinations Noknoi held strong and hardly seemed to feel the weight of Ioka's shots until round 11 when he was shaken several times, and seemed to be heading to the canvas on numerous occassions. Despite being hurt Noknoi amazingly stayed up right and managed to finish the round by firing back at Ioka, who looked desperate for a stoppage.
Ioka's aggression and hunt for a stoppage continued in round 12 as he tried to finish off the Thai but Noknoi's extreme toughness kept him upright to the final bell in what was a real surprise given the punishment he'd taken.
At the final bell there was no doubting the winner, though the cards were close than we expected with the judges scoring the bout 117-110, twice and 116-111, a remarkably close score given the domination of Ioka.
After the bout Ioka admitted that he was wanting to stop Noknoi and keep alive his stoppage run, the Thai though really impressed with his toughness, and we'd not be surprised to see him get another world title fight down the line based on his sheer durability. We were skeptical of how Noknoi would do, and whilst he was dominated he managed to really increase his standing with this performance.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)