By Tré Berry III🖊️
The fight exceeded expectation in terms of action, as both boxers brought their A-game and delivered an entertaining fight as the last main event of the calendar year, as well as the decade. WBO Super-Flyweight Titlist 🇯🇵Kazuto Ioka (25-2-0, 14KO👊) came in with his Title, and left with it in tact as he outworked, and outpointed a hungry unbeaten #1 🇵🇷Jeyvier “El Perrito” Cintron (11-1-0, 5KO👊) throughout 12 to win a Unanimous Decision victory for his first defense of his presently held Title.
Cintron being the tall rangy southpaw came into this contest ready to box and use his length, while Kazuto came out in stalker mode trying to shrink the real estate in the ring to maximize his opportunities to land something of consequence. Cintron has a good snappy right jab and looked to put it in use throughout this fight to try and control distance. Cintron had a very good opening round and landed a couple of quality crosses from distance that got the attention of Ioka. Somehow Jeyvier was able to sneak his left cross through Ioka’s guard which was up responsibly in position. Cintron was clearly not short on confidence in this fight, as his hands were free flowing, landing an impressive slide step cross flush in the 2nd round, then following up with a lead right hook, both shots getting to the 🎯target and getting the better of Ioka at the early onset. Ioka started to land his own cross a bit more frequently, and started to dig to the body, but at this juncture, whatever he would land, Cintron would successfully return fire.
Ioka started to wake up in the 3rd round and found home for the lead right hand, and started to double up on occasion with them. Cintron must’ve felt the sting behind them, evidenced by his differing movement after they landed, but was still giving a real good account of himself as someone being worthy of the challenge granted to him. Ioka started to take advantage of the challengers long torso, banging away at the body which Cintron had limited answers for, though he landed a couple of solid check-hooks over the top. Round 5 was a strong one with both boxers having 📍stand out moments. Cintron landed his best shots of the fight, that being a 3-2 (lead hook, cross) combination that snapped Ioka’s head back. After landing another snappy shot, Ioka got a little angry (a rarity for him) and started to heavily press the action and began to fire multiple combinations to the head and to the body to steal back the round in my estimation. I’m not quite sure I’ve ever seen Ioka as active as he was in this fight, but the challenger Cintron with his level of craft and vigor was pulling it out of the Champion, for him to try and show, and to establish whose boss in the ring, as Cintron showed the type of gusto where he was looking to dictate the events that was taking place in the squared circle.
Cintron came out in the 6th round looking to counter-punch exclusively, perhaps weary of what may come back after what Ioka had landed in the previous round. Ioka during the middle of the round pressed forward to execute a body assault, while taking full control of the fight. This was the first moments where you could see a slight 📉confidence dip from Cintron as he was no longer committing to his punches, instead firing them and looking to step out of range upon impact, ultimately taking the sting out of his own punches. Something interesting for me to note🤔 – Kazuto Ioka typically always operates behind the classic gloves to the “temples, elbows tucked in defense” to where he’s in position to pick your punches off, but in this fight, he exhibited multiple different defensive looks, with a lot of upper body movement and differing with his hand positioning, showing his defensive versatility to try and throw off the Puerto Rican challenger who was looking to zero in on any type of tell or tendency that he could exploit.
Cintron appeared to start gassing in the last 3rd of the fight, so he was mustering up offensive in chunks of the rounds. Round 9 was a major one for Ioka as he finally started to see the fruits of his work when Cintron started to wither, so Ioka compiled upon it with a multitude of the heaviest body-shots he had landed throughout the fight. The great Referee 🗣️Tony Weeks in my view gave a rather dubious warning for Ioka to keep the hands up, feeling like something may have strayed low, and stopping the flow of the action to issue the ⚠️warning, but I felt the shots landed were of legal variety. The first half of round 10 was Cintron’s best work since the 5th round, but all that went out the window after he was hurt by a counter left hook that Ioka ripped in there to the jaw. Ioka tried to bull his way through Cintron, using his superior strength to continue to break him down to the body some more, and did so for the remainder of the round.
Ioka’s left eye was swelling up, but had zero consequence of what was taking place in live action inside of the ring. It would be an unfair critique to state that Cintron was in survival mode in the Championship rounds, but he was badly hurt from accumulative damage throughout the rounds and kept his distance for large chunks of time while he tried to set traps and leap in with lunging left crosses. Some landed and some didn’t, but the ones that did land didn’t phase Ioka, or deter him from punishing Jeyvier the way he had been doing for the last couple of rounds. Kazuto looked to knock him out in the final stanza, but it didn’t come. He didn’t exactly need it, as he was ahead on the cards (the scores for this fight were too close), and the crowd was pleased with the action that both Ioka and Cintron put forth.
Kazuto Ioka walked away from the 🏟️OTA-Gymnasium still the WBO Super-Flyweight Titlist by way of Unanimous Decision, making his 1st defense of that World Title. We will share the official scorecards of the judges, as well as how we scored it here at Project Combat.
OFFICIAL SCORECARDS ✎🗒️
✎ Julio Cesar Alvarado = 115 – 113 for KAZUTO IOKA
✎ Phil Austin = 116 – 112 for KAZUTO IOKA
✎ Wes Melton = 116 – 112 for KAZUTO IOKA
PROJECT COMBAT SCORECARDS ✎🗒️
✎ Tré Berry = 118 – 110 for KAZUTO IOKA