Ioka defeats Little Pacquiao, keeps WBO 115lb belt

By Joe Koizumi

Japan’s WBO junior bantamweight champ Kazuto Ioka (28-2, 15 KOs), 115, kept his belt as he earned a unanimous decision (118-110, 116-112, 115-113) over #6 southpaw compatriot “Little Pacquiao” Ryoji Fukunaga (15-5, 14 KOs), 114.75, over twelve fast rounds on Friday in Tokyo, Japan. The four-division champ Ioka, making his fourth defense of this belt, demonstrated a safety-first strategy, constantly piling up points without taking a risk by toe-to-toe exchanges of punches. Ioka seldom absorbed the challenger’s less accurate combos but scored with more accurate and more effective combinations upstairs and downstairs. Ioka, 32, would have been able to floor Fukunaga, a carpenter nicknamed “Little Pacquiao” because of his resemblance at 35, with more furious combinations in later rounds, but the champ didn’t accelerate his attacks to the fading foe probably because he was more anxious to safely prepare for a unification bout with IBF counterpart Jerwin Ancajas next rather than go for a year-end knockout that our aficionados had wished for. The ref was Katsuhiro Nakamura.

Promoter: Shisei Promotions.

(More to come)

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  • Ioka is truly an all time great. He’s been excellent throughout his entire career. His loss to Nietes was very questionable. I wouldn’t necessarily call it a robbery but it was a bit of a stretch to call it for Nietes. His other loss was to a slick guy with a difficult style. At this point Ancajas may be a bit too much for him but I’ll be rooting for Ioka.

    • Completely agree. His first loss was to Amnat, who also beat him as an amateur if I recall correctly and probably just had Ioka’s number and maybe he loses to Ancajas, although Ancajas can be inconsistent and I’ll also be hoping Ioka can win that. But the career he has had from coming up as the next big thing in Japan to becoming the first Japanese 4 weight champion, if he stops right now, he’s already a hall of famer.

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