Just moments ago Japanese fans saw popular Osakan Kazuto Ioka (20-1, 12) [井岡一翔] successfully defend his WBA Flyweight title with a confident display against the determined and fiery Keyvin Lara (18-1-1, 6), from Nicaragua.
Lara began the fight with a high energy pressure style that saw him immediately taking the fight to Ioka and forcing the Osakan star on to the backfoot, and against the ropes. Despite being backed up Ioka looked calm and confident as he blocked a huge number of Lara's punches whilst landing some sickening counter shots of his own. For the first 4 rounds it was the same pattern of the fight.
In round 5 we began to see Ioka coming forward a bit more, and backing Lara away at times. The offensive work of Ioka was still mostly counters to Lara's intense pressure but it proved that Ioka was in control and could choose when and how to come forward. There was little Lara could do to stop him, or to defend against the increasingly frequent left hooks to the body which were chipping away at Lara's resolve.
By the end of round 6 we had began to see Lara slow notably whilst Ioka was becoming more aggressive and at one point it seemed he had momentarily buckled Lara's legs before the Nicaraguan regrouped and began throwing back. It was a brave effort from Lara but it was clear that he was being broken down and in rounds 7, 8 and 9 we saw Ioka become more and more aggressive. What had once been single counter shots were now fully fledged 3, 4 and 5 punch combinations to the Nicaraguan.
In round 10 Ioka began to actively hunt the knock out and for the final minute he seemed to have Lara going with something, god only knows what, keeping Lara upright until late in the round. The Nicaraguan seemed ready to go after beating the count but the bell saved him. Well we say saved him, he was quickly finished in round 11 with Ioka starting the assault early and finishing the challenger after just 71 seconds of the round, with Lara being counted out as he began to rise at 10.
The win for Ioka could mean he faces WBA “super” champion Juan Francisco Estrada, with the WBA officially instructing the two to negotiate from tomorrow. That fight would be much tougher than this one, though it's possible that the two men will go in different directions. Either way we don't expect to see Ioka back in the ring until his tradition December 31st bout. If it's not with Estrada it could be with fellow Japanese fighters Daigo Higa or Takuya Kogawa or possibly against WBA interim champion Stamp Kiatniwat.
For Lara the bout was a painful loss but he was impressive with high toughness and energy and we wouldn't be shocked to see him invited back over to Japan to face some of the other Japanese Flyweights, in fact a bout with Higa would be a potential FOTY contender.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
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