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)