Earlier today in Japan, 30 year old Kazuto Ioka made a little piece, actually a pretty big piece, of boxing history as he became the first Japanese boxer to win world titles in four different weight divisions. Ioka, 24-2(14) stopped Filipino puncher Aston Palicte via tenth-round TKO to take the vacant WBO super-flyweight belt. The title had been made vacant by another Filipino warrior in Donnie Nietes (who holds a decision win over Ioka and also boxed a draw with Palicte), who vacated back in March of this year.
Ioka, the better boxer, had his hands full in the earlier rounds, before his speed and accuracy took over. Palicte was frustrated at times and in the tenth he took a hard counter right and was then stopped by Ioka’s follow-up barrage. Time was 1:46 of the 10th. Ioka had previously held world titles as a strawweight, a junior-flyweight and a flyweight.
Boxing is absolutely thriving in Japan right now, with a number of fine lower-weight fighters holding and defending world titles. It’s too bad many fans, too many, are missing out on the action; either because of limited live coverage of the big fights in Japan or because these fans are not that interested in the little guys of the sport. Hey, it’s their loss. Any fight fan who has not yet seen bantamweight champ and brutal power-puncher Naoya Inoue, AKA “The Monster” in action really is depriving themselves of some incredible entertainment.
As for Ioka, who is perhaps a little past his prime at age 30 yet still clearly a most formidable operator, can now be expected to feature in some big fights at junior-bantamweight, where seriously talented fighters like Juan Francisco Estrada, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, Roman Gonzalez and the aforementioned Nietes are currently plying their trade.
It remains to be seen whether or not Ioka has what it takes to beat the absolute best at super-flyweight, but it could prove to be a lot of fun finding out. For now, Ioka can celebrate his history-making win.