Ioka stops Tanaka, keeps WBO 115lb belt

By Joe Koizumi

In a greatly anticipated encounter of Japanese compatriots, WBO junior bantamweight champ Kazuto Ioka (26-2, 15 KOs), 115, very impressively kept his belt as he sent previously unbeaten Kosei Tanaka (15-1, 9 KOs), 115, to the deck twice with a well-timed left hook in the fifth and sixth and finally halted him at 1:35 of the eighth round on Thursday in Tokyo, Japan. It was a beautiful demonstration of Ioka’s skills in averting Tanaka’s opening attacks and precisely counterpunching him with the picture-perfect left hooks. The ref was Michiaki Someya, Japan, who made a well-timed stoppage to save the battered and bloodied loser from further punishment.

Former WBC flyweight ruler Daigo Higa (17-1-1, 17 KOs), 118, wrested the WBO Asia Pacific bantamweight belt by flattening defending titlist, compatriot Yuki Strong Kobayashi (16-9, 9 KOs), 117.5, at 0:45 of the fifth session in a scheduled twelve. Higa had swept all rounds prior to the trick happening with his vicious uppercut to the face.

(More to come)

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  • Not a bad fight card. Main event was a very fight. Weird seeing a fight this early and on Boxnation. Good action from the main event. Tanaka was my pick but tge man with the better opposition on the record did the job.

  • Wasn’t surprised he won, was hoping he would, but I was surprised at the knockout. Tanaka absolutely could not see that left hook coming the entire fight.

    Estrada and Gonzalez fight in March and Rungvisai probably gets the winner — which is fine he’s beaten them both — but if he doesn’t feel like sitting out until July/August, after last fighting in October (and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Chocolatito were to retire if he won), Ioka – Rungvisai is a helluva fight in my opinion. Otherwise, Jerwin Ancajas took the year off, I’m sure he’s eager to get back in there. Well done Ioka!

  • Ioka might go up to 118 and fight Inoue, otherwise he got many options, being one of them a rematch with Donnie Nietes. Also a fight with Jerwin Ancajas could be great.

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