In late 2018 we saw WBO Super Flyweight title bout in Macau that saw Filipino great Filipino great Donnie Nietes (43-2-6, 23) score arguably the most notable win of his career, becoming a 4-weight world champion as he took a split decision over Japanese star Kazuto Ioka (29-2, 15) [井岡一翔]. Sadly for Nietes he failed to build on that win, vacating the title in pursuit of bigger things, essentially giving up his proverbial bargaining chip. In the end he would sit out for more than 2 years, whilst Ioka went on to win the title Nietes gave up, and then built his own legacy with impressive wins against Jeyvier Cintron and Kosei Tanaka.
Today, most than 3 and a half years later, we saw the men face off again, with Nietes entering as the mandatory challenger for Ioka's title.
This time around the bout really didn't click like their first encounter, with both men looking older, less energetic and less hungry than they did in Macau. Sadly this lead to a much lower, less exciting and less competitive bout.
From the opening round Ioka, the much younger man, looked like someone with a lot more left in the tank. He was quicker, sharper, more active and managed to find the bodu of Nietes. The body work of Ioka, which has long been under-rated, was a key facet through out the fight and he landed a variety of great body shots round after round, tryign to take the legs away from the 40 year old Nietes.
Impressively however Nietes' legs which actually his major asset, along with his time, as he managed to counter Ioka just enough to keep the champion the champion honest and prevent him from marching in without a care in the world. Those counters forced Ioka to remain respectful, but they dodn't stop him from intelligently controlling the bout, round after round, with clean, accurate shots. He simply out working Nietes, who's work at times was incredibly low.
The bout very much felt like one that was very samey through out. Ioka looked classy, intelligent, and like a man who methodically breaking down a decent, but faded veteran. Nietes on the other hand looked to connect with jabs early in rounds, and counter when Ioka upped the tempo. The only real changes seemed to come in the second half, as Nietes would end up on the ropes occasionally, where it seemed like he could be at risk of more body shots, but the veteran manage to avoid taking too much punishment, and actually put up a better effort in the later stages of the fight.
Given the one sided natural of the bout overall it did lack drama, though that changed in round 10 when Nietes suffered a cut on his right eyelid. It was a nasty cut that saw him being taken over to the ringside doctor. He was fit to continue, but the cut did seem to make him even more negative, almost as if he was happy to see the final bell, rather than win.
After 12 rounds there was really no questioning the result, with Ioka taking a unanimous decision. The only question mark was how many rounds the judges could find to give to Nietes. In the end, not many. The scores were 120-108, 18-110 and 117-111, giving Ioka a clear decision win, and revenge for his 2018 loss. It was however a bout that left the question marks about the future of both men. Nietes looks like a man who needs to consider retirement, whilst Ioka seemed to have lost a clear step or two and wouldn't be favoured, or even regarded as evens, against any of the other top 115lbs fighters on the planet right now.
World Title Results
Whether you like them or not World Titles add prestige to any bout as a result we've included the results of world title bouts in this special section.