Ioka: “I’ve Fought Stronger Punchers Than Nietes; I’ll Exploit Counters”

Ioka Focused on Gaining Sweet Revenge Against Donnie Nietes

Kazuto Ioka speaks on Donnie Nietes
Kazuto Ioka (L), Donnie Nietes

Kazuto Ioka Expecting Conditioned Opposition in Donnie Nietes Rematch

It’s rematch time for four-division champion Kazuto Ioka (28-2, 15 KOs). On July 13, he makes the fifth defense of the WBO junior bantamweight title as he faces mandatory challenger and fellow four-division champ Donnie Nietes (43-1-6, 23 KOs) at the Ota-City General Gymnasium in Ota-City, Japan.


In December 2018, they fought for the then-vacant WBO strap. That night, Nietes came out on top, winning by a hotly contested split decision. Ioka hopes to flip the script this time around. During an interview with Ring TV, the 33-year-old reflected on their previous fight and gave his thoughts on Nietes.

“He was a very tough and smart fighter. He moves well and counters very good. But I don’t recall being hit hard or getting in trouble, so I believe I can go after him more aggressively this time. His punching power is not as explosive as other fighters I have fought recently. I will look to exploit him with my own counters.”


Since their first encounter, they’ve taken strikingly different paths. Nietes vacated the WBO belt and vanished from the boxing scene, not fighting in 2019 and 2020. He signed a promotional deal with Probellum in September 2020 and finally made his return. The now 40-year-old defeated Pablo Carrillo by unanimous decision in April 2021. Next was a ten-round draw over Norbelto Jiminez in December 2021, his last outing.

On the other hand, Ioka went on to stop Aston Palicte for the title that Nietes vacated and has defended it four times. A signature win during this current world title reign was an eighth-round TKO over three-division champion Kosei Tanaka. The somewhat controversial Japan-native looks to be fighting better than ever.


Some pundits suggest that the long layoff and age have caught up with Nietes. Savvy and thoughtful in and out of the ring, Ioka is not buying what others say about his opponent. The sole focus is doing whatever is necessary to win.

“Although people are saying Nietes is old now, I do not think so. I expect the same Nietes from last time […] But I think he has had time to get himself back in proper condition.”

Their first fight was an entertaining chess match, a battle of two highly-skilled craftsmen. The expectation is that you could see a similar battle this time around. What we have is not just a showdown of grizzled vets. You have a contest pitting two of the best lower-weight fighters in the world of the last ten to fifteen years.

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By: Michael Wilson Jr.

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