Kazuto Ioka Won WBO Jr Bantamweight Defense Wednesday
On Wednesday night in Tokyo, WBO Junior Bantamweight World champion Kazuto Ioka did what he needed to do to score a 12-round unanimous decision win over Mexico’s Francisco Rodriguez to retain his title. Ioka won all three judges cards by the identical 116 – 112 score, while making his third successful title defense.
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The fight took place in Tokyo Ota- City General Gymnasium in front of no fans and with limited personnel. The Mexican Rodriguez actually took the fight to the champion Ioka early on, scoring especially with right hands and lefts to the body.
Both Fighters were very active and Ioka, now 27-2, continued to press the attack in the middle rounds of the bout. That included the fifth-round where Ioka did his most damage to date in the fight, including landing a solid right hand and left hook to the body that had Rodriguez, now 34-5-1, wincing and holding on.
The challenger also was bleeding from the nose and a cut on his left cheek from the middle of the fight on. Ioka continued to land jabs and right hands behind them, as the fight wore on.
Neither fighter would end up going down, but Rodriguez showed some life in the 10th round scoring with a right-left combination that backed the champion Ioka along the ropes. Things slowed down a bit in the 11th round as Ioka got control of the fight again with his jab and continued to catch Rodriguez coming in with solid counter punches.
It turns out that as far as the judges were concerned, the end was anti-climactic. This, as they had Ioka comfortably ahead in the final stanza. The win is Ioka’s fourth straight overall after he had lost the WBO 115 lb. title to Donnie Nietes in December 2018.
Rodriguez came into the fight on a 15 bout win streak. However, he’s never won a fight outside of Mexico and is now 0-3-1.
Ioka has battled controversy after his previous title defense, when he defeated fellow countrymen Kosei Tanaka with an 8th round KO last December 31st. He originally was deemed to have a failed a post-fight drug test, but appealed to the Japanese Boxing Commission and WBO on their testing practices and won the appeal.
Ioka further created controversy with the Japanese boxing Commission by refusing to cover up his tattoos, which is forbidden in prizefighting there. He did have a visible word tattoo on his left chest in this bout Wednesday night.
Ioka still very much wants to be involved with the two bigger names in the division, Juan Francisco Estrada and Ramon “Chocolatatito” Gonzalez, however, those fighters are intending to fight for a huge third fight against each other later this year.