Today in Japan, the traditional New Year’s Eve boxing title fight took place, as WBO junior bantamweight champ Kazuto Ioka won an entertaining 12 round unanimous decision over a game challenger in Ryoji Fukunaga. Southpaw Fukunaga, a late replacement for Jerwin Ancajas (who Ioka will now hopefully meet in their postponed unification fight in the new year) came to fight and he had his moments.
But Ioka, one of the best fighters in the world, was just a step ahead in most of the rounds. Ioka won by scores of 116-112, 115-113 and a too wide 118 to 110. Ioka is now 28-2(15). Fukunaga is now 15-5(14).
The tall and rangy challenger had a great start, coming out fast and with purpose. Ioka had to adjust and he soon worked Fukunaga’s lean body. Ioka also fought in the pocket at times and his left hook scored. But Fukunaga has a good chin and he took Ioka’s best shots. Ioka had to take some pinches himself and the action was never dull.
The defending champ’s body attack began to wear Fukinaga down in the later rounds but still he hung tough. Ioka had a small swelling under his eye. For a late replacement affair, today’s fight was certainly a good one. Catch the action now on YouTube if yoi have not yet seen today’s fight. Ioka is one of the pound-for-pound best in the world today and he is also somewhat underrated when it comes to giving us thrills and excitement.
Let’s see what 2022 brings for the 32 year old.
The Show Will Go On In Japan As Kazuto Ioka Will Defend His WBO 115 Pound Title Against “Little Pacquiao” On NYE
It’s a tradition for there to be a big title fight in Japan on New Year’s Eve and it’s been confirmed that the show will go on. Days ago, due to the tightening Covid restrictions in Japan, with no foreign visits being permitted, it was announced how the Kazuto Ioka – Jerwin Ancajas 115 pound unification showdown would not be happening. But now, coming in on just a couple of weeks’ notice, Ryoji Fukunaga will challenge WBO junior-bantamweight champ Ioka on December 31 in Tokyo.
This fight is of course not as big or as potentially thrilling as the two-belt unification clash was, but it’s good news that Ioka, one of the best fighters in the world today, will still see action. And Ioka Vs. Fukunaga could prove to be an action affair. Known as “Little Pacquiao,” southpaw puncher Fukunaga is 15-4(14) and he has won his last five. Stopped just once, some time ago (2015), the 35-year-old can be relied upon to really go for it in the fight. Simply put Fukunaga has nothing to lose. Also, as great as he is, it is possible 32-year-old Ioka is slipping just a little, that he is taking more punches now.
In his last fight, against Francisco Rodriguez Jr in September, Ioka, 27-2(15) was dragged into a real battle. Ioka had to dig deep to get the decision win in what was one of the best lower-weight fights of 2021. Maybe Fukunaga, with his power, will be able to land some big shots and do some damage? Ioka is now hopeful of facing Ancajas in late spring or early summer of next year, but, of course, an upset win on the part of Fukunaga would ruin such plans.
Ioka has to be the pick to win on December 31, naturally, but this one could be lively and well worth tuning in for. The final world title fight of 2021 may well be one to remember. Credit to Fukunaga for coming in at short notice and saving the show.