Kazuto Ioka needs to be on every boxing fans radar in 2021!
For over a decade, Kazuto Ioka (26-2, 15 KOs) has been one of the best smaller-weight fighters in the sport. A world champion in four weight classes, he has made his imprint and impact on the sport.
2020 saw the 31 year-old from Sakai, Osaka, Japan, take his already impressive career to even greater heights. On December 31, he defended the WBO Super Flyweight title for the second time against the former three-division world champion and mandatory challenger, Kosei Tanaka (15-1, 9 KOs). Tanaka himself held the WBO title in three different divisions and had previously tied the record for claiming the feat in only twelve professional bouts. Despite Ioka being the bigger man, his abilities and previous accolades, he was still viewed by many as the underdog.
Heading into the fight, Ioka exuded a high level of confidence. His self-assurance extended in the ring as he dissected and dismantled his younger opponent. It was a masterful display of skill and precision. The defending champ scored three knockdowns en route to an impressive eighth round stoppage victory.
This is arguably the best performance of his career. Fans are still buzzing over Ioka’s domination over an opponent who was on the brink of becoming a top ten pound-4-pound fighter!
IOKA’S AMBITIONS FOR 2021?
We are now in a new year. Ioka is now basking in the glow of a career-best win. So you may now ask, “what could top his win over Tanaka?”
In his perfect world, he would like to become a unified champion. Before his win over Tanaka, the Japanese boxing legend expressed a strong interest in fighting WBC Super Flyweight champion Juan Francisco Estrada (41-3, 28 KOs) and WBA champion Roman Gonzalez (50-2, 41 KOs). The latter champions will unify two belts on March 13 in a rematch to settle an eight year rivalry.
During a press conference on January 1, Ioka reiterated he wants to fight the winner of the highly anticipated rematch to make it a three-belt unification in 2021!
THE ULTIMATE FIGHT ON HOME SOIL
Then there’s one more tantalizing potential opponent out there. IBF/WBA Bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue (20-0, 17 KOs). There have been no formal discussions about them facing off, but a fight between the two is dripping with intrigue. An Inoue versus Ioka bout later this year could arguably be the biggest fight ever on Japanese soil…and the super flyweight champ wants it!
Ioka has his pickings right now when it comes to big-money fights. He seems to have all the ambition in the world to take his career up to the next level. Put that together combined with his strong promotional team, you’re talking about a fighter who is looking to make serious moves in 2021.
By: Michael Wilson Jr.
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