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.
Just moments ago we saw WBC Super Flyweight champion Jesse "Bam" Rodriguez (16-0, 11) put on a performance that belied his 22 years of age as he didn't just score his first defense, but did so in dominant fashion against former 2-time champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (50-6-1, 43) [ศรีสะเกษ นครหลวงโปรโมชั่น], who took a genuine pasting at the hands of the incredible champion.
Going in to the bout it seemed the bout would be a case of Bam's speed, timing and movement, against Srisaket's power, toughness and strength. And in the early rounds that did seem to be the case with Rodriguez landing clean shots whilst using his footwork to create angles, keeping Srisaket from landing clean and chipping away at the Thai great. It was a perfect start for Bam who picked the Thai apart with smart body shots and clean headshots without taking much in return.
It wasn't really until round 4 that Bam in any trouble at all. And even that trouble was very short lived, as he took a body shot late in the round, a body shot that he seemed to be bothered by, albeit only for a moment. Just a round later however Bam was back in total control, whilst Srisaket seemed unable to land anything at all, whilst taking hard shots upstairs and downstairs. He was landing at will, and the only thing keeping Srisaket in the bout was his incredible toughness and iron chin. Just a round later however that iron chin was beginning to show cracks and in round 7 Srisaket was dropped, albeit in something of a flash knockdown as Srisaket claimed he slipped. Following the knockdown Bam continued to beat up Srisaket to the end of the round.
Between round 7 and 8 the DAZN camera team showed Srisaket in his corner and it seemed very much like he had something of a resigned look on his face. It was the look of a man who was trying everything he could, but nothing worked. It was the face of a man who knew he was beaten, but didn't want to accept it. It was the face of an old legend who's career was coming to an end, though he likely didn't realise how close the end was.
The 8th saw Srisaket under pressure early. He tried to fight back, but really had no response, he was begging to become something of a punch bag, with Rodriguez landing at will, and switching from head to body. The headshots seemed to bother Srisaket, but it was the body shots that really broke him down and forced on to the retreat. With Srisaket backing on to the ropes Bam unleashed on him, landing really clean head shots, one after the other until finally the referee stepped in, saving Srisaket from further punishment.
At the age of 35 Srisaket's legendary career is likely over. He managed to record one of the most notable careers of any Thai in the sport, having success not just in Thailand, where he win his first world title against Yota Sato, but also in the US, where he scored two wins over Roman Gonzalez and also beat Juan Francisco Estrada. His career is that of a certified Thai great. Sadly though this is almost certainly the end of it, at least the top level.
As for Bam. The sports has a genuine star on it's hand, and he should be regarded as the front runner for Fighter of the Year, with this win following a victory over Carlos Cuadras, he should be on the pound for pound rankings, and his team should be looking to match him against other top fighters. There is talk of him moving down in weight. to Flyweight, though selfishly, we'd prefer to see him stay at 115lbs and face the likes of Roman Gonzalez, Kazuto Ioka, Juan Francisco Estrada and Fernando Daniel Martinez whilst cleaning out the division. Regardless of what he ends up doing, fans should be taking notice of him, and following him. We could well be watching the career and development of a generational fighter here.
Over the last few years no division in boxing has given us consistently amazing fights like the Super Flyweight division, and just moments ago we had another sensational bout at 115lbs, as Filipino fighter Jerwin Ancajas (33-2-2, 22) lost the IBF Super Flyweight title to Fernando Martinez (14-0, 8) in a early contender for FOTY.
From the off Martinez came out like a bull, he pressed the action from the opening bell, forcing Ancajas to fight his fight, and to engage in the wrong fight. It was something we had seen Ancajas get dragged into the past, but rarely against a man as determined looking as Martinez who seemed to walk through everything Ancajas threw back in the early going. In fact not only was Martinez walking throw what came back at him, but he was also outlanding Ancajas in terms of quantity and quality of shots.
Through the first 3 rounds it it was clear Ancajas was having moments in every one of them, but he seemed to consistently be struggling to establish himself, and every time he did it seemed to be short lived. There was however some positivity late in round 3 when he seemed to rock Martinez, for a moment. It was a little moment, but one that was too late in the round for him to build on as the bell came moments later.
Ancajas also had a minor break through in round 4, when a headclash left Martinez with a cut over the left eye that seemed to bother him during the round. Unfortunately for Ancajas however, it was little more than a temporary problem for Martinez, who seemed to completely forget about the cut in round 5, a round that saw him become incredibly dominant, and begin to take a genuine iron grip on the bout. He was dictating the range, the tempo, the style and the overall action. He was bossing the fight, and Ancajas was doing little more than trying to control him, fighting back to try and get Martinez's respect and create some breathing space. Sadly though Martinez wasn't giving him it, and was instead landing huge shots time and time and time again.
Unfortunately for Ancajas he was starting to get hurt, he was wobbled in round 6, and took incredibly punishment in rounds 7, 8 and 9 as a stoppage began to look inevitable for the Argentinian. The only question mark was whether Martinez could keep up the pace, as he was throwing an insane amount of shots. It seemed that something would have to give, either Martinez's gas tank, or Ancajas' heart and chin. Amazingly however neither of those things gave up. Neither man was willing to break.
Notably as we got into final rounds Martinez made it clear he didn't was a decision, he wanted to keep the judges out of the bout, and went all out, and was caught by some huge counters late on, in fact he was wobbled in round 10, but instantly recovered and took the fight to Ancajas immediately.
Somehow Ancajas dug deeper than anyone could have expected, and fought wonderfully in the final round, refusing to just give up his title, but still had nothing to stop Martinez's aggression. In fact it seemed like nothing would stop Martinez to night, and despite failing to stop the Filipino, the judges had no option but to give him the bout, with scores of 117-111 and 118-110, twice.
After the bout talk turned to a rematch, but in all honesty we don't see that going much differently to this one, and we don't think it would be smart from Ancajas' and his team. Personally, and this is purely our hope, is that Ancajas gets the chance to fulfil the previously scheduled bout with Kazuto Ioka, for Ioka's WBO title, whilst Martinez gets to share the ring with one of the other top fighters in the division. A bout between Martinez and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, Joshua Franco, Andrew Moloney, Francisco Rodriguez Jr or Jonathan Javier Rodriguez Valles would all be incredible bouts. With maybe the winners facing off at the end of the year!
It's pretty fair to say that 2021 was a poor year. A really frustrating year that many of us would love to scrub from our memories. Sadly the disappointment of much of the year continued right through to the final world title bout of the year as WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (28-2, 15) [井岡一翔] retained his title in a damp squib of a bout with fellow Japanese fighter Ryoji Fukunaga (15-5, 14) [福永亮次].
The bout, put on on short notice when Japoan closed it's borders and Fukunaga was a late replacement for Jerwin Ancajas, promised something. Especially given how Fukunaga had been gifted a win in October against Hayate Kaji. It seemed, in paper, like the idea bout for Ioka to show his counter punching skills, like he did a year again ago against the brilliant Kosei Tanaka.
Instead the bout had very much the feeling of an under-enthusued champion, taking on a domestic level challenger and simply going through the motions.
From round 1 it was obvious the two men were on totally different skill levels, but that the challenger was significantly hungrier for the bout than the champion, neutralising some of the skill difference. Fukunaga looked like someone who wanted to win, Ioka on the other hand looked like a man who was happy to go through the motions without coming close to top gear, or even second top gear.
Round by round Fukunaga had success with his jab, and landed the occasional big left hand, but they did little to get Ioka's respect, at least on the whole, whilst Ioka found holes for good combinations up top and the solid body shot. Sadly they were few and far between from the champion, but they were enough to take a lot of rounds. Fukunaga tried, and it's a good thing he did, but he was often lacking that bit of quality and his power looked toothless at world level.
Thankfully Fukunaga did do enough every tound to keep Ioka from falling asleep, but never did enough to make Ioka get out of cruise control,. He landed he landed some good left hands, but Ioka always took the play away with a nice combination, a good body shot and a glimpse of what he could do. It was like a parent playing with a child for the most part.
Sadly for Ioka we never came close to seeing the best of him. That, in the final rounds, was really disappointing and instead we saw Fukunaga come on strong, especially in round 11 as he seemed to hurt Ioka with a body shot, but it was too little too late and Ioka, whilst hurt, wasn't close to being damaged goods, seeing out the round, and cruising through the final 3 minutes en route to a decision victory, with scores of 118-110, 116-112 and 115-113
After 12 rounds Ioka was the clear winner, but he fought like someone happy to just get through the bout and eye bigger things in 2022, like the rest of us. Fukunaga, who was game but second best through out, put up a good effort but was clearly second best and really looked like he had nothing other than heart and determination to offer at this level. He tried to out box Ioka, which was a poor gameplan, even against an Ioka who looked completely unmotivated.
Fingers crossed 2022 will bring a major opponents for Ioka and will see Fukunaga face off in a rematch with Hayate Kaji, after their hugely controversial October bout. On this performance Ioka needs a top opponent to get the best from him whilst Fukunaga, for all his willing and determination, is missing world class traits.
Earlier today we saw WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (27-2, 16) [井岡一翔] record his third defense as he defeated mandatory challenger Francisco Rodriguez Jr (33-5-1, 24) in a compelling 12 round bout that had a bit of everything, and turned out to be a very well contested, and exciting bout that saw both men needing to take some big shots.
The challenger was incredibly confident in his ring walk and it was clear from the energy and demeanour that he wasn't in Japan to make up the numbers. Ioka on the other hand looked like a man who who was missing the fans that he would have hoped would have been at the venue, though weren't due to the increasing number of Covid19 cases in Japan. He didn't look worried, but he didn't look as confident as we've seen him in the past.
The confidence of Rodriguez wasn't just for show and he raced out to start the bout, putting Ioka under pressure and using a lot of movement to make Ioka feel uncomfortable. It was a close round overall but one where Rodriguez seemed to have the more eye catching moments and the best highlights, including landing a number of big right hands.
Rounds 2 and three were quite similar to the opening round, with Rodriguez holding his own with Ioka, who was taking heavy right hands whilst looking to land left hooks to the body. The two men seemed to have very different tactics, with Ioka looking to take the legs of Rodriguez away, whilst Rodriguez wanted to fight in spurts, catch the eye and apply intelligent pressure. It was a very interesting start to the bout, and one that was genuinely very competitive.
As the rounds went on the action kept picking up, and by the end of round 5 it seemed like Rodriguez had been the man getting the better of things. His aggression, his strength and his eye catching right hands up top were certainly impressing and it seemed like Ioka, who's well known for being an adaptable fighter, had got his gameplan wrong. The lack of fans perhaps leaving him just a touch flatter than we'd seen from him.
In round 6 and 7 however Ioka began to find his range, his tempo, his counters and his space with more freque ncy. Rodriguez was still having moments, but the Mexican was slowing down, he had put a lot in to the early rounds, used a fair bit of energy, and was struggling just a little bit to close the distance for his bursts. The extra space allowed Ioka to show case his counter punching, and he was he who started to land the better shots, making Rodriguez pay for his aggression with more regularity. Round 7 was a real changing point and Ioka went on to take round 8 as well as he began to take slowly take control. The momentum the champion was building seemed likely to see him take the fight away from Rodriguez, however the Mexican bit down hard and had a stellar round 9, as he hurt Ioka, and showed the same energy he had shown earlier in the bout. The round saw Ioka holding quite a bit, something that Rodriguez complained about after the fight when talking about the result, and something that did go completely unpunished, though had seen both men holding at times on the inside earlier in the bout.
Sadly for Rodriguez the round wasn't the start of a major fight back, and instead rounds 11 and 12 were both good ones for Ioka, as he got back to boxing, making Rodriguez miss, and spoiling when he needed to. It was something he needed to do to win, and something that did end up deciding the bout, with Ioka taking the last 2 rounds to secure a 116-112 win on all 3 cards.
Talking about the scorecards, they were certainly interesting. Not a single round in the first half of the fight saw all 3 judges agree. The unanimous round was round 7, for Ioka, who also took rounds 8, 11 and 12 on all 3 cards. Rodriguez on the other hand took round 9 on all 3 cards. Other than that the results of the rounds were split on the cards. Amazingly however it was one of those fights where judging was tricky. Although both men had very good rounds, they also had a lot of competitive close ones, making this a really close fight, and a very hotly contested one.
After the contest Rodriguez stated that he thought he'd won, and that he would have won had the bout been on neutral territory. He complain about Ioka holding and hitting behind the head, though in all honesty it was something both men were guilty of, and neither seemed to be doing it maliciously but more incidental shots up close.
As for Ioka he seemed to accept his performance wasn't great, and that he couldn't fight the fight he wanted, but getting the win was key. He also stated that the bout he's going to try and get next is a unification bout with IBF champion Jerwin Ancajas, something he and his team are going to be trying to negotiate for the big New Year's Eve show that Ioka will be on.
It just keeps happening! The Super Flyweight division just keeps delivering FOTY contenders and instant classics, and we saw that again tonight with a brilliant bout for the IBF Super Flyweight title.
Going into the bout Filipino fighter Jerwin Ancajas (33-1-2, 22) was expected to make an easy defense as he took on mandatory challenger Jonathan Javier Rodriguez (22-2, 16), an unheralded Mexican who really wasn't well known by fight fans. On paper this looked like an interesting match up but, given recent IBF mandatory title fights, it was also expected to be very easy for Ancajas, who had already run up a title record 8 defenses of the belt.
Whilst fans and the media may have been expecting an easy one for Ancajas, Rodriguez had different plans in mind and from the off he was pressing and coming forward. Unfortunately for Rodriguez he was too slow early on to get close and dictate the pace, but he was having success and he wasn't looking outclassed, just too slow. In round 2 Rodriguez again had success, but was out boxed for much of the round.
In round 3 things really went up a gear as the Mexican closed the distance more and Ancajas looked to try and prove his metal as the two ended up engaging for much of the round, in what was a fantastic 3 minutes of action. The action really was eye catching when they fought up close, with Ancajas landing some fantastic body shots and Rodriguez finding regular success with his uppercuts. This was a sign of what we were to see later on, but was, for now, a bit of an abiration.
Rounds 4 and 5 saw Ancajas begin to use his brain more, dictating the tempo, using his feet and jab and making full advantage of the fact he had the quicker feet and quicker hands. He was letting Rodriguez follow him around the ring, and tagging the Mexican regularly. In all honesty Ancajas was making it look easy in those two rounds. That however, did no last long.
In round 6 we again saw the tempo going through the roof as both men traded from the off, Rodriguez came out like he had a point to prove and he really upped his pace, forcing Ancajas to go with him. The entire 3 minutes was spent with the two men in a phone booth, unloading huge shots back and forth in what was a thrilling, pulsating round of action. It was really none stop as the two men took it in turns to unload on each other. Through the round Ancajas' looked the busier man, landing the higher volume, but Rodriguez seemed to be landing the heavier, more meaningful blows.
After a really good sixth round the pace slowed down a bit through round 7. It was a round that started well for Rodriguez, but as it went on Ancajas got back to his boxing, and he took control of the action again.
Round 8 was, by far and away, the most significant of the bout. It started with Ancajas controlling the action whilst boxing and moving. By the middle portion of the round however Rodriguez was closing the distance and dragging Ancajas into his fight. When that happened the pace increased massively, as the two traded blows. Rodriguez, for the first time, seemed hurt and backed up, and Ancajas went all out, unloading shots with both hands whilst Rodriguez was in the corner. The flurry from Ancajas saw him hurt Rodriguez to the body, then follow up up top, finally sending Rodriguez down. The Mexican took his time to respond, but beat the count and survived the final few seconds of the round
It seemed almost certain that the Mexican would be stopped as we went into round 9. Amazingly however he seemed to recuperate between rounds and came out hungry for the 9th. It was another brilliant round, with Rodriguez pressing and pressuring with pure determination. He was fighting on incredible will power and he showed no quit at all. That was despite being visibly hurt numerous times from body shots. Every time he was hurt he stiffened up, before gritting his teeth and pursuing Ancajas, again and again. It was a gritty, determined and brilliant effort from a man who seemed inhuman. It would have been easy for Rodriguez to have accepted a loss, gone down again from one of the body shots, or even fought to survive. Instead however he came to win and continued to press through the pain.
Despite a brilliant effort through 9 rounds the challenger would have known he was behind going into round 10. He would have known he needed to finish strong. Really strong. And that's exactly what he did. The final 3 rounds saw Rodriguez fighting through exhaustion and pain with amazing hunger, cutting the distance and out working a tired looking Ancajas. The Filipino had moments in all 3 of the final rounds, but was out worked as the will of Rodriguez over-came the skill of Ancajas. Those final 3 rounds saw Rodriguez were incredible. But they weren't enough to grind down the Filipino champion, who survived to the final bell.
After 12 brilliant rounds we went to the judges scorecards, which were read out as 115-112, 116-111 and 117-110, all in favour of Ancajas.
It's hard to argue with the result, though 117-112 felt too wide given the determined effort of Rodriguez, who made this into such a thriller. Ancajas got the decision, and he deserved it. But boy did he have to work for this one, and it was, much, much tougher than anyone would have expected. It was also a surprisingly entertaining fight, something that Ancajas hasn't typically had. He seemingly could have made it easier for himself. He probably should have made easier for himself, but Rodriguez's determination cannot be questioned. He was great.
For Ancajas this was a 9th defense but in reality it was a chance for him to win over fans who have been disappointed by him in the past. It was the fan friendly bout he needed, and hopefully bigger and better things will come shortly for him. He spoke about a unification bout following the win, potentially a showdown with WBO champion Kazuto Ioka, and that would be a huge step up for him, and a great chance for him to prove he is world class.
As for Rodriguez, he made a lot of a new fans here. He lost but his performance was brilliant. He proved he tough, talented, brave and a hugely fan friendly fighter. Fingers crossed he gets more chances to show what he can do on a big platform like Showtime after this. He got a chance on a big stage, after a very long wait, and he made it count. He might not have got the win on the night, but he should be given chances again, and in the long term this loss could prove to be a massive victory for his career.
In the final meaningful bout of the year we got something spectacular as WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (26-2, 15) successfully defended his title, for the second time, and stopped 3-weight world champion Kosei Tanaka (15-1, 9) in a late contender for Fight of the Year.
The bout, which had been hugely anticipated by boxing fans world wide, was the first ever time two multi-weight Japanese world champions had ever faced off, and after the 2020 we'd had it was a bout that had, genuinely excitement going in to it.
In one corner we had the experienced champion, the man who had repeatedly told us "this wasn't a special bout" and that this wasn't going to be a problem to him. In the other corner we had a young challenger who had repeatedly told us this was going to be a generational shift, and that he was ready to lead the new generation. Not only that, but Tanaka was looking to secure a place in history, by taking a 4th division world title in just his 16th professional bout.
There was so many substories going into this. Ranging from the worlds of the two men, and the fact both were looking to secure their place in history.
From the opening bell this started quickly, with Ioka firing in a right hand almost immediately. His hand speed, as it always has been, was wickedly impressive, and he boxed well with his his speed offense. Ioka on the other hand looked slower, but smart, picking his shots a lot more intelligently, and landed some solid body shots through the opening round. It was hotly contested through out, and very much a round that set the tone for this to be something thrilling.
The excitement continued in rounds 2 and 3. Tanaka seemed to buzz Ioka at one point, before Ioka fired back with some amazing counter shots. It still seemed like the handspeed difference could prove to be the vital difference in favour of Tanaka, but Ioka, to his credit, was riding shots well, countering smartly, and not taking too many clean, showing his fantastic technical ability to limit the punishment he was taking whilst also getting a read on Tanaka.
By the end of round 3 it seemed like Tanaka was starting to get to Ioka, who was starting to swell around the eyes, and seemed to be on the worse end of things. Ioka however saw out the storm and roared back in round 4, one of his best rounds he began to make the most of what he had learned from the first 3 rounds. He was now making Tanaka miss, countering brilliantly, and getting the last word in the exchanges.
At the end of round 4 both men's faces were looking like they were getting beaten up, yet both were still landing their share making for a truly compelling contest.
In round 5 we saw the fight further swing to Ioka. Tanaka had started well, but body from Ioka continued to land clean, slowing the challenger who looked to land big rights. Mid way through the round we had some real tit for tat stuff, with Tanaka outlanding Ioka, but taking the much heavier blows. The final blow of the round was the heaviest, and was a perfect counter left hook from Ioka that dropped Tanaka hard and left his nose a bloodied mess. Had the shot come 20 seconds earlier we could have seen the end of the bout, but Tanaka rose and the bell saved him, giving him the chance to recover before round 6.
Heading into round 6 we had questions about how Tanaka would look after the knockdown, and he looked surprisingly good, taking the fight to Ioka early in the round. He seemed to catch with a really good right hand at one point, but a flurried response form Ioka hurt him and a counter left hook a few moments later dropped Tanaka for the second time in as many rounds. Amazingly Tanaka not only got back to his feet but took the fight to Ioka immediately afterwards, rocking the champion in the final seconds of the round.
In round 7 Tanaka looked to try and turn things around, know, after being dropped twice, he needed to do something big. Sadly though by the end of the round he began to look desperate, firing his right hand and getting frustrated as it missed time after time, whilst Ioka was regularly landing jabs. Ioka wasn't just countering Tanaka, but was essentially making Tanaka's best weapon look useless at times. Mentally crippling the youngster, who was realising that the hole he was in, was just getting deeper.
The depth of the hole became too much in round 8 as Ioka landed a short left hook-come and a clean right hand, leading to the referee immediately jumping in. It was an excellent stoppage as Tanaka's legs buckled beneath and the referee essentially held him up, letting him steady himself, before letting him congratulate Ioka on the win.
Following the bout Ioka took the microphone and spoke about the fight and, finally, gave a bit of respect to Tanaka. He stated "It wasn't a surprise match for me, but I've been saying that I'll show the difference, so I couldn't just say it as a man. I'm glad I could prove it as a champion. I don't know how long I can continue boxing, but he's the player who will carry the boxing world in the future. It was a good experience with him."
Ioka also revealed that he had been seeing double from his left eye from round 2, and was now hoping to fight against one of the other champions in the division, such as WBA "Super" champion Roman Gonzalez or WBC champion Juan Francisco Estrada.
At the time of the stoppage the scores were all heavily in favour of Ioka, with scores of 69-62 and 68-63, twice.
For Ioka this win was a career defining one, and it will sit up there along with his wins against Oleydong Sithsamerchai, Akira Yaegashi and Juan Carlos Reveco. It is one of those wins that showed how good of a ring technician he was, how smart he was and how he manages to solve problems in the ring, something we saw him do a year ago against Jeyvier Cintron. Ioka is among the most adaptable fighters out there, and with Ismael Salas behind him, it seems like they are coming up with excellent game plans fight after fight.
As for Tanaka the 25 year old will be disappointed here. It wasn't how he wanted to end 2020. At 25 years old however, this isn't the end for him. In fact the stoppage by the referee, the excellent Michiaki Someya, may well have helped prolong his career. This was a less for Tanaka in the end, but it was a less he learned at the age of 25. It is one he come rebuild from. He can come again. It's back to the drawing board for him, and likely time to change how he boxes. He has the tools to be an exceptional boxer, he has incredible speed but mentally he gets too excited. If he can tone down the excitement factor following this loss, he can easily go on to to claim a Super Flyweight title in a year or two.
The one big question mark here, is why did DAZN or ESPN pick this up for the US and use it to advertise a future opponent for Gonzalez, Estrada or Jerwin Ancajas. This should have been shown in the US, and it's a massive shame it wasn't! A real shame American fans had to look online streams for this one.
The final world title bout of the 2010's saw Japan's Kazuto Ioka (25-2, 14) [井岡一翔] close things out for the year as he has done numerous times during the decade. Taking home a win, and successfully defending his WBO Super Flyweight champion against mandatory challenger Jeyvier Cintron (11-1-0-1, 5) from Puerto Rico.
The bout started well for Cintron, who seemed to use his natural attributes well, making the most of his reach and his speed. He was however consistently under pressure from Ioka, who struggled to get close early on, but began to find his range in round 3. When that happened the bout began to turn from "interesting" to exciting".
With Ioka cutting the distance better from round 3 he forces Cintron to fight his fight, whilst landing some brutal body shots. The game plan from Ioka was simple. Take away the legs of the Cintron, make him hold his ground and go to work. It was a good gameplan, but one that only partially worked. To his credit Cintron's legs never really stopped moving, despite being fed a fairly consistent stream of vicious, hard body shots, especially in the middle rounds.
Cintron's heart and unwillingness to wilt helped him have moments, but his early lead had been destroyed by the body blows and his head shots seemed to do little more than annoy Ioka who continued to walk forward, pressing, looking to sneak more rib buster on to the challenger.
By round 8 it seemed that Cintron would eventually capitulate. He seemed out of energy, out of ideas and out of hope, but instead hit bit down, getting through a some torrid moments in rounds 9 and 10 before actually having some of his best success in the final few rounds. He seemed to refind his ambition, and let his hands go more, doing what had worked for him early on. He was getting his shots off and getting out of dodge, creating space, boxing and moving. It may have been that Ioka felt he had the bout in the bag, or it may have been that Ioka was tired, but Cintron finished the bout well. By then though it really was too little too late.
After 12 rounds the decision seemed an easy one, with only the specific scored in doubt. It seemed impossible to do the mental arithmetic to get to a Cintron win, despite his gutsy and brave performance, and the judges agreed scoring it 116-112, twice, to Ioka and 115-113 to Ioka.
(Photo Credit - A. McGovern)
Some bouts are fantastic match ups, worthy of getting excited about. Other however are mismatches from the moment they are signed, and every one knows it. They are bouts that do not need to exist in this sport, especially not at world level featuring a long term world champion who is still looking to secure a career defining fight, more than 3 years after winning his title.
Yesterday in Mexico IBF Super Bantamweight champion Jerwin Ancajas (32-1-2, 22) recorded his 8th defense as he made very, very, light work of the over-matched and under-whelming Miguel Gonzalez (31-3, 8).
On paper this might have looked a fine bout, both guys having over 30 wins, only a few losses combined. In reality however Ancajas had long proven he was world class. He had shown his ability against solid world level opponents, had should be in the ring with fellow world class fighters. Gonzalez on the other hand had been soundly beaten by his 2 best opponents, the excellent Andrew Moloney and a pre-prime Paul Butler. Not only had Gonzalez lost his two bouts of note, but he had nothing to offer Ancajas as a test. He wasn't a dangerous puncher, he did have elite level boxing skills, he was little more than a regional level fighter with a padded record.
He was, essentially, a South American answer to those Thai's we see with fancy looking records that have no depth or quality to them. Just the numbers.
To his credit Gonzalez made a go of things. He was thrown in with a shark and tried to battle it. Sadly though Gonzalez's battle with Ancajas was only ever going to end one way, and despite his toughness keeping him in the bout the pressure, the body and the excellent boxing skills of Ancajas were far too much.
In round 6 Gonzalez was finally saved by the referee. He was still on his feet, but was a beaten, battered man and it was clear things were only going to get worse.
Whilst some of Ancajas' reign can be defended due to mandatory obligations, with bouts against the likes of Teiru Kinoshita, Jonas Sultan and Ryuichi Funai being mandatories, it's now time he chases one of the division's other world class fighters. Although some are tied up with Eddie Hearn and DAZN others, such as Kazuto Ioka, Francisco Rodriguez Jr or Froilan Saludar, aren't, and we also have the shadow of Kosei Tanaka approaching the division in 2020. Ancajas needs to put his foot down and demand real tests now.
Earlier today we saw a new WBO Super Flyweight world champion champion being crowned, as Japanese star Kazuto Ioka (24-2, 14) [井岡一翔] put together one of his best performances to date, and stopped Filipino foe Aston Palicte (25-3-1, 21) in 10 rounds. The win saw Ioka becoming the first Japanese man to become a 4-weight champion, and only the second Japanese fighter to win world titles over 4 weights following Naoko Fujioka.
The two men had both looked great during their walk ins. Palicte looked calm but confident whilst Ioka, flanked by Japanese hip-hop artist AK69, looked determined and as if he was arriving for his destiny.
From the opening moments there was two things that were clear. One was a purely physical thing, Palicte dwarfed Ioka. They looked a division, if not two, apart. The other was that Ioka was much quicker, sharper and had the speed edge in terms of hand speed, footspeed and overall movement. It seemed like the bout could come down to who could make the most of their advantages.
It quickly became apart that it was Ioka's speed advantage that was the big difference, with Ioka often avoiding the big, booming power shots of Palicte, whilst managing to find a home for his own shots, especially his straight right hand up top and his body shots.
As the rounds went on it seemed more and more like Ioka's speed was the telling factor, with Palicte often being countered, regularly with lovely left hooks that Ioka was finding from round 3 on wards. Palicte's issues were worsened by the effective body work from Ioka, who has quickly become a forgotten man in the conversation of best body puncher in the sport, and in round 4 Ioka really showed off what he could do with shots to head and body.
Other than in round 4 Palicte generally looked like he was in the rounds, but losing them, and falling behind on the score cards but doing enough to be in them with an odd combination and some solid jabs. It seemed like something he and his team knew was happening when they sent him out for round 7, a round that really was something special.
Palicte came out for the seventh with bad intentions, pressing Ioka in a way he hadn't done in the first 6 rounds. He was there looking to take Ioka out, and unlike the earlier rounds where he was typically trying to land the odd combinations, he went full throttle. The increase in output from the Filipino seemed to shock Ioka, who seemed to wobble at one point, but Ioka would later turn the round on it's head and hurt Palicte, with body shots being a key late in the round. In many ways the round was Palicte's last hoorah, and form then on he never really seemed to have any more sustained success with Ioka's technical ability and combinations becoming a clearer focal point.
Going into round 10 it looked like Palicte's toughness, durability and chin might see him to the distance but Ioka had other idea's after he hurt the Filipino with a big right hand. Ioka waded in, looking to close the show, eventually forcing the referee to step in. Palicte, and his team, weren't happy at the stoppage, and you could argue it was a slightly early stoppage, but the Filipino did take 6 or 7 clean head shots and left the referee in the position where he could step in, especially given the damage Palicte had taken in the earlier rounds.
The question as to what is next for Ioka will be an interesting one, though there are big potential bouts with fellow Japanese fighters Akira Yaegashi and Kosei Tanaka, both of whom have mentioned becoming 4 weight champions themselves. Of those two bouts a showdown with Tanaka would appear more likely, given that both are TBS affiliated fighters.
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.