Moments ago in Tokyo, Japan Kazuto Ioka pounded out a hard-fought 12 round unanimous decision over a very game and very aggressive Francisco Rodriguez Jr of Mexico. After an excellent battle, one that saw both men’s chins tested throughout, defending WBO super-flyweight champ Ioka got the win via three scores of 116-112. Ioka, a four-weight champion, improves to 27-2(15). Rodriguez Jr, a former IBF/WBO mini-flyweight champion, falls to 34-5-1(24).
These two little men gave the fans in Ota City a great action fight, with both men testing the other hard. Before the fight, 32-year-old Ioka said he felt he was very much on a different level and that he did not see his 28-year-old challenger being able to prevent him from going on to his goal of unifying the super-flyweight titles. Maybe now, after being pushed so hard and hit so much (Ioka certainly took more leather than in his last fight, when he looked masterful in stopping Kosei Tanaka on New Year’s Eve), Ioka will have a change of heart.
It was a close fight, one that Rodriguez Jr feels could have gone his way. Ioka, pretty much unmarked at the end, Rodriguez Jr being swollen some around the eyes and cut above his left cheek, was a deserved winner yet the fight was far better than most felt it would be; there were some furious exchanges that thrilled the fans. Ioka – who has ruled at mini-flyweight, light-flyweight, flyweight, and super-flyweight – should be a far bigger star globally than he is. A feature in many pound-for-pound lists, Ioka might be the best super-flyweight in the world today.
Rodriguez Jr pushed Ioka hard but the 32-year-old is still unbeaten in his last four fights, since dropping a very close split decision to Donnie Nietes in December of 2018. Jerwin Ancajas is the man Ioke is most likely to fight next. However, today’s fight was so entertaining, a rematch between Ioka and Rodriguez Jr would be most welcome.
It really is too bad too few fans outside of Japan will have seen this one go outlive. Both men gave their all today.