Kazuto Ioka vs. Kosei Tanaka Set For December 31 In Tokyo
It has been speculated throughout 2020 an all-Japanese showdown would take place between WBO Junior Bantamweight champion Kazuto Ioka (25-2, 14 KOs) and his mandatory challenger, former WBO world Strawweight, Junior Flyweight and Flyweight challenger Kosei Tanaka (15-0, 9 KOs) would take place to close out the year.
Those rumors have been put to rest by Ioka. During a November 9 online press conference, he announced that he will indeed fight Tanaka on December 31 at the Ota Ward Gymnasium in Tokyo, Japan.
According to Japanese online source BBM Sports, the champ was very poised and supremely confident. When discussing his upcoming opponent, the champ’s comments came off as borderline dismissive.
COOL AS A CUCUMBER
(loosely translated from Japanese) “About Tanaka, the fighter, I am not particularly impressed by. I do not have any particular motivation. I just do it because it’s a WBO nomination defense match.
It may be good in that sense because it’s an exciting match between Japanese players. I don’t feel the benefit of fighting Tanaka. I haven’t seen much. I’m studying from now on. But I don’t feel like losing in any development.”
Ioka went on to say that he and Tanaka sparred years ago, but does not remember much from that session.
For both men, it will be exactly a year since they last stepped into the ring. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the country of Japan has been extra careful and slow to re-open its doors to boxing.
A four-time world champion in four different weight divisions (Strawweight, Junior Flyweight, Flyweight, and Junior Bantamweight), Ioka said changes have been made.
Because of the pandemic, he has been away from his trainer, Ismael Salas. However, the 31-year-old from Osaka explained he has adjusted and adapted to the current state of affairs.
“Over the past year, I’ve done everything I can do other than sparring in the Corona disaster. Gym Work, running, and physical fitness centered on punching bags and shadow boxing. I don’t feel any loss of strength. However, all the technical aspects are done.
The problem is that trainer Ismael Salas, who has been asking for guidance all the time, is not around. I think it’s okay to just get advice from Salas. I’m going to work with the Japanese staff.”
A JAPANESE MEGA-BOUT
For fans of the smaller-weight divisions with a keen eye on boxing overseas, this is the answer to your prayers. We are talking about two fighters who are both highly skilled with high-quality resumes.
This is a matchup of evenly-skilled fighters who can do a bit of everything. Both men can box and carry more than adequate power in either hand. And neither Ioka nor Tanaka is afraid to sit in the pocket and trade when necessary. On paper, it should live up to expectations.
In what has been a topsy-turvy year, this Japanese Super-Fight is a great way to end what has been a crazy year in the sport. If you are a true fan, this contest is not one to miss.
By: Michael Wilson Jr.