By Joe Koizumi
Photo by Boxing Beat
Three-time world champ Kazuto Ioka (22-1, 13 KOs) astoundingly renounced his belt before his mandatory defense with perennial top contender Artem Dalakian (15-0, 11 KOs) from Ukraine. It was publicly announced by his father/manager/trainer/promoter Kazunori today (Thursday) in Osaka. Having got married to famous and popular singer Nana Tanimura this May, Kazuto, a long-time resident in Osaka, moved to Tokyo to live with his bride—reportedly without his father’s permission. Kazuto finally decided to relinquish his belt rather than be forced to make the mandatory defense with limited preparation.
His father said, “It will be up to him whether to go on fighting or to hang up gloves for good. Kazuto may have an alternative to go for the fourth belt next year, if motivated.” It will be a waste of talent if Kazuto should call it quit at this point of his career since he is such a vastly gifted boxer-puncher with good reflexes and excellent defensive skills. Ioka remarkably proved it with such a clean and unbruised face after every fight. Kazuto Ioka, still 28, is at a crossroads in his life.