Japan's top flyweight, Kazuto Ioka, sealed the deal against Juan Carlos Reveco in December, stopping the Argentine fighter in the 11th round of their rematch at the Edion Arena, Osaka.
Reveco appealed the majority decision verdict in their first bout and a rematch was demanded, which is only the second time there was no controversy.
Some vicious body shots sank Reveco to the mat and gave Ioka the confirmation he needed that the first victory was justified. There is now no disputing the legitimacy of his WBA world flyweight title.
Reveco had his moments in the encounter and a spell midway through the fight saw him do some great work to the body and start snatching rounds, but that just spurred Ioka on further. He dominated from round nine, coming close to a finish on several occasions.
The biggest factor in the impressive victory was the Japanese fighter's stoppage over Reveco, who hadn't been beaten inside the distance in 38 previous fights. His long-time stranglehold over the WBA flyweight division had been ended by Ioka eight months earlier, but now it seems his whole career had been dealt a killer blow.
Now Ioka is on the hunt for some more silverware as he looks to work his way to the top of the division. "I wish to unify the flyweight belts by facing another champion," Ioka revealed after the fight.
He's now in with an exceptionally good shout, although nothing has been confirmed at the time of writing. There are three obvious chances to do this and they are bouts with world number one Roman Gonzalez (44-0), world number two Juan Francisco Estrada (33-2), and the only man to defeat him, Amnat Ruenroeng (17-0)
The bout he would most desire would be Gonzalez, who is the number-one, holds the WBC world flyweight title and looks almost unstoppable as it stands. With 44 wins and no defeats, he has 38 knockouts and a run of 10 straight finishes. He has a bout to take care of first, but comes in at 1/34 with http://www.32red.com/jp/. Along with 32Red, Unibet have his opponent at 15/1.
He's expected to breeze past McWilliams Arroyo and then he'll be looking for other tough tests in the division, possibly those with some silverware to share.
"Beating him would be a testament to my power," Ioka said when talking of his desire to face the Nicaraguan
Next down on the pecking order from top dog Gonzalez is Estrada. The knockout puncher has the WBO world title to his credit and has a fan pleasing, hard-hitting style that would match up well with Ioka.
Ruenroeng took a split decision when the pair met in a close encounter in 2014. In just one fight after deciding to move up to the flyweight division, Ioka showed he wasn't out of his depth with the IBF champion. With scores of 119-108, 115-112 in favour of the Thai, and 114-13 in favour of Ioka. Since then he has posted for more successful defences and goes again next month against John Riel Casimero.
Depending on the result, the stage could be set for a rematch that would give both men the chance to add another belt to their collection on the way to becoming an undisputed champion.
The surprise outsider on Ioka's agenda could be the aforementioned McWilliams Arroyo, who takes on Roman Gonzalez on April 22nd. 32Red have him at 10/1 but bigger upsets have happened in the world of boxing. An underdog loves nothing better than throwing a spanner in the works. There isn't currently a belt around his waist, but if he takes them on he could also be on the Japanese pugilist's hitlist.
Kazuto Ioka will fancy his chances in any of these bouts, but there are some fights that need to play out before we get a clearer picture of where he needs to go next. Don't be surprised to see a filler fight in between to stay busy while he keeps his eyes on the big guns.
Image - "Boxing Gloves HDR" (CC BY 2.0) by araza123
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