By Joe Koizumi
Photos by Naoki Fukuda
Speedy, skillful and smart Japanese Kazuto Ioka ( 23-2, 14 KOs), 114.75, gained his fourth world belt as he won the WBO 115-pound title by impressively chalking up a fine TKO victory over hard-punching Filipino Aston Palicte (25-3-1, 21 KOs), 115, at 1:46 of the tenth round on Wednesday in Chiba, Japan.
For Ioka, it was a wonderful Miguel Canto-like display of defensive skills and effective counters. Steadily piling up points, Ioka, 30, connected with a beautiful right counter and had Palicte, 28, in great trouble midway in round ten. Kazuto then swarmed over the fading Filipino, battered him with a fusillade of punches and made him look so helpless that referee Kenny Chevalier had a well-received intervention.
Ioka became the first Japanese that acquired world belts in four weight categories—in 105, 108, 112 and 115 pounds.