Apologies, as we had a busy week on a personal tip. If elite WBO Super-Flyweight world titlist 🇯🇵Kazuto Ioka (27-2-0, 15KO) isn’t on your Top-10 P4P list, then the validity of your list has to come into question. Last week on September 1st, Kazuto showcased his model consistency as he faced Mexico’s 🇲🇽Francisco Rodriguez Jr. (34-5-1, 24KO) out in Japan, in a bout where Ioka won a Unanimous Decision for his third title defense since winning the burgundy strap at 115 lbs. The bout was certainly an exciting encounter that brought pizazz inside of the empty venue.
The tone was set when Rodriguez lunged in to land a couple of uppercuts to split the airtight Ioka guard in the first round. Whatever you do as an opponent however…..nothing…..and no one appears to be able to speed Ioka up, or take him away from his comfort zone, as he stubbornly holds his position and always stays within his faculties, so in the early going, he found the right angles, and distance to sneak in some cagey shots upstairs and downstairs.
Rodriguez looked to make it a rough encounter on the inside, but Ioka since moving up to the Super-Flyweight division, has developed an incredibly strong base, and is typically the one using his strength to establish position. An Ioka left hook to the body got Francisco’s respect, as it made him freeze for a minute. You could credit Francisco for making this an exciting fight, as he was adamant to bringing the action, and Kazuto was happy to engage.
Ioka’s jab and counter right hand was piercing, often hitting the target whenever Francisco committed to stepping forward. Francisco did some of his best work in the third round, opening up and finding mild cracks to exploit, which seemed to surprise Ioka a bit. The unorthodox switch-hitter varied his punch sequences just enough to keep Ioka guessing defensively, but Kazuto stood his ground in the skirmishes and traded power, getting the slight upper hand in those instances with straighter punches.
Ioka found the separator tactically that changed the tune of the fight, and that was him pivoting off of the lead lead hook which forced the heavily front-footed Rodriguez to constantly re-shift, which took steam off his shots, and often had him out of position to defend, or to offer return fire.
With the basis being on prolonged observation of the best fighters in boxing, Kazuto has to rank among the top as one of the most accurate punchers in the sport, and his accuracy was on full display, busting up the face of Rodriguez, who remained game, but as time went on, the difference in class showed between the two prizefighters.
The 2-1 (cross, jab) combo was working for Francisco, but as time went on, he had trouble getting into range to fire it. Round 9 however is where Rodriguez landed some of his combinations since the third round, much of it being impressive work. The 10th was the most evened out round in terms of the exchanges, as both fighters ramped up the pressure in full understanding of the moment.
It was Kazuto Ioka who did the bulk of the damage in the Championship rounds, and opening up a cut over Francisco’s left eye which bled out profusely, and busted up his nose. The fight went the full 12 rounds, and both showed respect for each other after solid combat. Rodriguez gave a good, respectable challenge, but at the end of the day, Kazuto was too skilled, and savvy for Rodriguez to get a full stake in the fight. All 3 judges scored the fight 116-112 for the Japanese prodigy, and he secured the 3rd defense of his WBO Super-Flyweight world title. Tré Berry III of Combat Project scored the fight 117-111 for Kazuto Ioka.
This was Kazuto Ioka’s 19th win in a world title fight since turning pro in 2009 – and the 5-time, 4 division world titlist is in the prime of his career at 32 years old. He has desires to sought after IBF Super-Flyweight belt holder 🇵🇭Jerwin Ancajas of the Philippines. The CHAMPION at 115 lbs. will be determined in the third bout between 🇳🇮Chocolatito Gonzalez, and 🇲🇽Juan Francisco Estrada, so their hands are tied in the 4-man tourney they have on their side, so Kazuto securing a fight with Ancajas undoubtedly means him fighting the best available opponent that he could fight at this juncture, and is certainly a fight to look for…if we get it next.