Kazuto Ioka TKO’s Kosei Tanaka In Eight Rounds To Retain WBO World Junior Bantamweight Title
In a battle of Japanese boxing superstars, Kazuto Ioka (26-2, 15 KOs) stopped three-division world champion Kosei Tanaka (15-1, 9 KOs) in eight rounds to retain the WBO World Junior Bantamweight title for the second time. Taking place at the Ota-City General Gymnasium in Tokyo, Japan, it is arguably the most impressive win of his long and storied career.
This matchup caps off 2020 as the huge annual bout staged in Japan. The fight itself did an excellent job of carrying out the tradition.
HIGH QUALITY BOXING
It was Tanaka who began the fight as the aggressor. He was on the front foot, looking to land jabs and combinations to the head and body. Meanwhile, Ioka showed his skill and experience, doing an excellent job of countering with overhand rights to the and getting off with shots of his own.
The action was brisk, fast-paced, and fought at a very high level. What was fascinating was the momentum shifts not from round to round but within each round.
Tanaka was able to find a home with right hands and left hooks to the head. When he was able to let his hands go, the hand speed was impressive. Ioka used excellent footwork to shift backward and forward, creating angles for shots over the top. Through four rounds, this was some high-quality boxing displayed by both men.
CREATING A DIVIDE & CONQUERING
In the middle rounds, the champ started to back Tanaka up behind a terrific jab. His confidence was building as the challenger was bleeding from the nose and showing some distress. The work from Ioka paid off as a picture-perfect left hook put Tanaka on the seat of his pants.
Fighting cool as a cucumber, the champ continued the momentum in the sixth. Behind a tight guard, he was finding a home for the counter left hook. With a minute to go in the round, Tanaka went down for the second time in the fight with a sharp counter left to the chin.
At this point, the challenger tried to amp up the intensity. Yes, he was fighting harder, but not necessarily fighting intelligently. He was looking for solely power punches but was doing so fighting in a straight line disregarding defense. The desperation was very apparent.
His recklessness would end up costing him dearly. With 1:29 to go in the eighth, Ioka caught him with a hellacious left hook that had the challenger out on his feet. Referee Michiaka Someya stepped immediately stepped in to halt the bout!
Given the caliber of the opponent, this was a masterclass from Ioka. The defending champ displayed supreme confidence since the bout was announced. He controlled, tamed, and ultimately carved up a Tanaka who was regarded by some pundits as one of the Pound-4-Pound fighters in the world. At the very least, on the cusp of it.
Ioka has talked about wanting to fight WBA ‘Super’ World Junior Bantamweight champion Roman Gonzalez (50-2, 41 KOs) and WBC World 115-pound champion Juan Francisco Estrada (41-3, 28 KOs).
With Gonzalez and Estrada set to stage their long-awaited rematch on March 13, 2021, you could surely see Ioka seeking a fight against the winner. Coming off what he just did to Tanaka, fans would love to see him in the ring against either man.
By: Michael Wilson Jr.