Kazuto Ioka Defends Against Fukunaga on New Year’s Eve; Ancajas and Nietes Waiting in the Wings
By Carlos Costa
Tue, 28 Dec 2021
Awesome WBO super flyweight world champion Kazuto Ioka is all set to make his 4th title defense against hard-puncher compatriot Ryoji Fukunaga on New Year’s Eve at the Ota-City General Gym in Tokyo, Japan; and if Ioka prevails (as widely expected), will Filipino stars Jerwin “Pretty Boy” Ancajas or Donnie Nietes be Ioka’s next opponent?
A superbly skilled boxer, Kazuto Ioka (27-2, 15 KOs) has reigned in 4 different weight classes, the only Nippon warrior ever to achieve such a feat in Japan’s rich boxing history.
MORE ON THE CHAMPION KAZUTO IOKA
After reigning as Japan's national champion, Ioka won his first world championship, the WBC Minimumweight Title, 10 years ago, going on to defend it 3 times; then unifying belts with the WBA Strap in June 2012.
Afterwards, Ioka rose to the 108-pound division to capture the WBA World Crown in Dec of 2012, successfully defending it 3 times.
Moreover, Ioka eventually captured the WBA Flyweight World Title in April of 2014 by defeating the reigning world champion Juan Carlos Reveco of Argentina. At the time, Reveco was the undefeated world champion, making his 10th title defense.
Then, after a stumble, against Negros Occidental crafty veteran Donnie “Ahas” Nietes (43-1-6, 23 KO’s) of Murcia, Kazuto Ioka claimed his 4th and current world championship by knocking out in 10 chapters hard-swinging Filipino Aston Palicte in June of 2019 in Chiba, Japan.
The 32-year-old Kazuoto Ioka, born in Osaka, comes to this World title rumble after solid defenses against Puerto Rican Jeyvier Cintron, Japanese former world champion Kosei Tanaka and Mexican former world champ Francisco “Chihuas” Rodríguez.
Those tough men could not dethrone Kazuto. Will Fukunaga do it?
THE CHALLENGER RYOJI FUKUNAGA
Throwing rough blows at Kazuto will be 35-year-old southpaw challenger Ryoji Fukunaga (15-4, 14 KOs) in his first shot at a world title.
A vicious hard-hitting fighter, Ryoji Fukunaga – who is managed by Shingo Suzuki of Kadoebi Boxing – has never being in a boring fight.
Fukunaga is a man of action.
He comes out swinging no matter who is in front of him. Will Fukunaga try to rumble rough on New Year’s eve in an attempt to shock, rock and stop the experience and more cerebral Kazuto?
Most likely yes.
Since May of 2019, Fukunaga has ripped apart 4 of his last 5 rivals, including a major knockout win over Filipino Froilan Saludar, whom he stopped in 7, to clinch the WBO Asia-Pacific super flyweight belt.
A year ago, Fukunaga waged a memorable war against compatriot Kenta Nakagawa, in which he succeeded in defending his title via round 10 TKO, capturing both the OPBF Strap as well as Japan’s National Championship.
In his latest fight – which catapulted him in a meteoric rise in the world rankings – Fukunaga successfully defended all his 3 titles and broke the undefeated record of compatriot Hayate Kaji in what became a very close, competitive battle, which ended in a 12-round majority decision win for Fukunaga just last October at the legendary Korakuen Hall in Tokyo.
After that victory over Hayate Kaji, Fukunaga was preparing to fight again on January 15 in Tokyo when this World Title opportunity against Kazuto Ioka arose to replace Davaeño IBF super flyweight world champion “Pretty Boy” Jerwin Ancajas (33-1-2, 22 KOs).
A solid champion, the Filipino Jerwin Ancajas was more than willing and ready to fight Kazuto Ioka in a very exciting unification war.
But sadly, the thrilling showdown of Kazuto Ioka vs Jerwin Ancajas had to be canceled (for the time being), due to new entry restrictions for foreigners wanting to travel to Japan.
Will the fantastic, hugely popular in Japan Kazuto Ioka go on to deal with the threat of his dangerous challenger Fukunaga, as most boxing fans expect?
Will awesomely skilled boxer Kazuto Ioka have to much experience and boxing talent for the attacks of slugger challenger Ryoji Fukunaga?
Indeed most fans say yes.
And then, will Kazuto Ioka go on to pick Jerwin Ancajas or Donnie Nietes as his next opponent, provided that the Covid situation would ease up for 2022?
We all hope so.
Ioka vs Fukunaga, the very last world title fight for 2021, is promoted by Shisei Promotions, live in Japan on Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS).
The official weigh-in is on Thursday, Dec 30, and Philboxing will keep you posted.
The author Carlos Costa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Click here to view a list of other articles written by Carlos Costa.
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