One New Year's Eve we saw WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (26-2, 15) [井岡一翔] retain his title with an 8th round TKO win over fellow Japanese fighter Kosei Tanaka (15-1, 9) [田中恒成], in what was a fantastic bout to end 2020.
Yesterday in Japan news broke that despite the win Ioka may be in trouble with the JBC for breaking one of their rules.
The JBC rule in question states "a person with a tattoo or other style that makes the audience feel uncomfortable" is unable to compete in a bout.
Typically a fighter with a tattoo is allowed to fight in Japan, the Western interpretation of the rule banning tattoos altogether, though the tattoo must be concealed. Usually this is done with sporting tape, concealing and various inoffensive powders, used to mask the colour and shape of the tattoo. The rule is also, only really, applicable to Japanese fighters and doesn't apply to international fighters, making it a very inconsistent rule at the best of times.
Reportedly Ioka did make effort to conceal the tattoo, a rather large tattoo on his left arm and left side, though those efforts appear to have failed and his tattoos were fully on show during the fight, which drew a very large audience figure and some complaints.
It was reported that Ioka had used foundation to cover the offending tattoo, and that he had been instructed the day before to hide it and follow the rules. It's also been reported that in the in the changing room before the bout, when he had his gloves checked, the tattoo was hidden, though by the time he was in the ring the tattoo was visible. A JBC official is quoted in some of the Japanese press as stating "Maybe the paint was lighter than before. I wondered if he was already sweating at the up stage or before the start of the game, but when the game started, it became clearer and clearer. The tattoo was visible,"
After the bout JBC officials were questioned about it and as a result a meeting will take place to discuss possible punishments for Ioka at an ethics committee meeting. There they could do one of 6 things, ranging from a Strict Caution right through to cancelling his license. Though if we're being honest we suspect it'll be a relatively light punishment. In fact if anything we suspect the ethics committee to give him a punishment similar to the one recently given to Kenshiro Teraji for his drunken misbehaviour out of the ring.
Although Ioka is a big name, it's been made clear he hasn't been given special permission with the JBC Secretary General, Tsuyoshi Yasukochi, has been quoted in the Japanese press as saying "I have never given special permission because he is him. The rule violation is clear and we are currently considering how to deal with it."
Interestingly a number of Japanese sites are beginning to question the rule, asking whether it's an outdated rule or unfair on local fighters, as it doesn't apply to visiting fighters. The rule is due to the links to organised crime members in Japan, and specifically things like the Yakuza. Historically fighters like Tatsuki Kawasaki, who came from a criminal background, had to remove his tattoos.
In recent years tattoos have become more of a fashion statement globally, but the rule is still in effect and is one that is still rooted in Japanese culture. Though as we move forward Japanese culture is probably going to join the rest of the world and begin to disassociate body art with the criminal underworld in the coming years.
On New Year's Eve we were lucky enough to see an instant classic to end the year, with WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (26-2, 15) [井岡一翔] scoring an 8th round TKO over fellow Japanese fighter Kosei Tanaka (15-1, 9) [田中恒成].
The bout was a spectacular one and was shown across Japan via TBS and affiliates, as well as Paravi, as well as being shown across the world on services like Boxnation, Fox Sports Australia and ESPN in Latin America.
Today the Japanese TV viewing rate for the show, on TBS and MBS, was released. Those are the figures for the Kanto region, which includes Tokyo, Kanagawa and Saitama, as well as the Kansai region, which includes Osaka, Kyoto, Hyogo.
The average viewers for the Kanto region was 10.3% whilst the number in Kansai was 10.4%.
Sadly the peak figures for the two regions haven't been reported as of yet. Neither have the other regions the bout was shown in, such as Chubu and Tohoku.
Whilst it's not accurate to turn that viewing figure into a raw number, we do need to add that seems likely that these numbers do translate in to a multi-million viewership. The numbers don't correlate directly to the local population but the Kanto region, back in 2010, had more than 42,000,000 people living there, whilst Kansai had 22,000,000 according to the 2010 census.
For comparison RIZIN, which aired on the same day on Fuji TV, had it's best part averaging 7.3%.
Whilst many in the West assumed that Tanaka was the star, it does need to be noted that in Japan Ioka is the bigger name, and was before this fight. That can be seen quite clearly if we go back to the end of 2019 where Ioka Vs Cintron drew an average of 9.4% in Kanto whilst Tanaka's bout against Wulan Tuolehazi drew 6.1%.
For those curious Japan uses the Video Research Ltd for it's TV audience measurement, like BARB in the UK and Nielsen in Japan. This is a company partially owned by advertising giant Dentsu.
Yesterday we saw WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (26-2, 15) [井岡一翔] put on one of his best career performances and retained his title with an 8th round TKO win over the previously unbeaten Kosei Tanaka (15-1, 9) [田中恒成]. The performance was a masterclass of counter punching, distance control, and of a fighter using experience to neutralise a quicker, younger opponent.
Today, following that win, Ioka attended an online press conference where he spoke about the bout and his in ring future.
Regarding the bout he spoke highly of Tanaka "He was strong. He was a good player. He had speed and punching power as he was reputed"
"I felt growth because I was able to show what I was doing in the game rather than winning Tanaka-kun,"
Despite only fighting once in 2020, due to Covid19, Ioka did sat it wasn't a wasted year, though his plans for 2021 seem much bigger. "This year's goal is a unified match with champions from other organizations," "I hope to face the winner of Juan Francisco Estrada and Roman Gonzalez..." and even went as far as to suggest that only he can beat them both"I can win. I'm the only one, "
Interestingly he's predicted a Gonzalez win for the bout against Estrada, suggesting that Estrada is getting hit more in recent bouts than he used to.
Although there are big plans for later in the year the shorter term plan is to have a holiday with his family, and have a short break to begin the year.
(Image courtesy of Ambition Gym)
To end a pretty awful 2020 we get a genuine super fight as WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (25-2, 14) [井岡一翔] defends his title against 3-weight world champion Kosei Tanaka (15-0, 9) [田中恒成] in Tokyo tomorrow.
With the big fight taking place in less than 24 hours, we've decided to take a look at the updated odds, and see who the favourite is, what the bookies see the most likely outcome as, and what other markets are available on the fight.
As we've seen pretty much from the start Tanaka is the betting favourite. When we looked at the odds just over a week ago he was 8/15 to win. Since then his odds have drifted somewhat and he's now available at 8/13. He's still the favourite, but less of one than he was. As for Ioka he has shortened from a 7/4 under-dog to a 3/2 under-dog. They aren't huge shifts, but they are notable shifts.
Interestingly the draw is still available at 16/1, the same price it was a week ago, though some bookies have seeming had money on the market, with one online website pricing it at 12/1 now.
A decision win for Tanaka a week ago was 21/20, it's still essentially the same, at 11/10, and is still regarded as the most likely outcome. A decision for Ioka is now 9/4, after having been 5/2 last week, again a small change but not a massive one. A Tanaka stoppage was 15/4 a week ago, and that has now drifted massively up to 5/1, perhaps a sign that picking Winning gloves isn't going to result in a stoppage for the "KO Dream Boy". A stoppage for Ioka is the same as it was a week ago, at 9/1, a genuinely huge price.
With neither man expected to score a stoppage the bout is expected to go the distance. A week ago the bout was 2/7 go the complete scheduled and it's pretty much the same now, at 1/3. It was 5/2 to end early a week ago, and that's typically the same price we've found, though one bookie is an outlier at 14/5.
As with a week ago the "total rounds" market is set high, at 10.5 rounds and the over is still 1/4. The under is however available at 10/3 for those who look around, slightly better than the 11/4 that you could get a week ago.
Arguably the most interesting market here is the "To be Knocked down" market. Here we see Ioka at 2/1 to be dropped at any point, and Tanaka at 3/1. We can't help but feel that's a little bit confusing as Ioka has only been down twice in his career, once against Heri Amol back in 2010 and once Stamp Kiatniwat in 2016. With Tanaka wearing Winning gloves, which are well known for protecting hands and not for their power, we would be fairly surprised to see Ioka hit the canvas. Tanaka however has been down against Vic Saludar, Palangpol CP Freshmart and Jonathan on Gonzalez, and has been been hurt in other fights, including those against Sho Kimura and Ryoichi Taguchi. Given the move up in weight that 3/1 is something perhaps worth thinking about.
Related-The end of year clash - Kazuto Ioka Vs Kosei Tanaka
(Image courtesy of Ambition Gym)
In just over 24 hours we'll see WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (25-2, 14) [井岡一翔] defending his title against unbeaten challenger Kosei Tanaka (15-0, 9) [田中恒成], in one of the mostly highly anticipated bouts of 2020.
The fight, which is being aired globally thanks to the likes of TBS, Boxnation, ESPN2 in Latin America and Fox Sports in Australia, is a rare Japanese fight that has genuinely caught the attention of a worldwide audience, all wanting to see something special to end a torrid 2020.
Today the two fighters took part in their weigh in for the contest, and both men made the 115lbs weight limit with no issues at all. In fact both came bang on the 115lb limit and looked in excellent physical condition.
Ioka, sporting the cornrows he showed off at the pre-fight medical yesterday, oozed confidence at the weigh in. He seemed like a man who really did believe his words, and seemed to feel that Tanaka wasn't on his level, and that he had done much more than the challenger.
After the weigh in he stated that he would be eating a meal made by his wife whilst isolating at a hotel. In regards to his condition he explained "I'm glad I was able to finish the weighing and play tomorrow with the support of my family and camp." When asked his views on the fight he was, again, scathing towards Tanaka, saying "I will prove who is the champion. I will show the difference in the rank and the level of boxing." and went on to add "I'm not looking down, but I don't care about the existence."
Before getting into the ring tomorrow Ioka plans on putting on between 4KG (8.8lbs) and 4.5KG's (9.9lbs).
As for Tanaka he seemed confidence, but like a man with a burning desire to prove a point. This wasn't the relaxed calmness of Ioka, the self assured, almost dismissive champion. Instead it was a challenger who has done all he can to prepare for a fight which, if he wins, will almost certainly make him the third biggest star in Japanese boxing. He looked incredibly on the scales, and knows it, telling interviewers that he was "in very good shape".
Like he has through the build up, he spoke about the bout being a generational change, as if he knows this is his chance to rip the torch from Ioka, and become a national star. Although well known among boxing fans, particularly those in the West where he has connected brilliantly with fans, he is still not quite the national boxing star that some suspect he is in Japan. A win here would change that, and he knows it.
On the subject of a generational shift Tanaka stated "I think the level of boxing in Japan is very high, so I want to win the 4th class and lead the boxing world. A new era of super talented people. I am prepared to lead it."
As well as both men making the 115lb weight limit, we can also report that both men had negative results in their PCR tests, which were taken yesterday.
As you're all probably aware by now the fight will be shown live around the world through through channels like TBS in Japan, Boxnation in the UK, Fox Sports in Australia and ESPN channels in Latin America, though sadly it wasn't picked up by a US TV channel.
For those in America wanting to watch we suggest a 3 day trial account with Isakura should be ordered today (December 30th) as it can take up to 12 hours to get the details sent through. More details about Isakura can be found here.
Related-The end of year clash - Kazuto Ioka Vs Kosei Tanaka
(Image courtesy of Ambition Gym)
News! We try and give you the most interesting news stories from the Asian boxing world!