Donnie Nietes vs Kazuto Ioka will do battle in China for the vacant WBO super flyweight title
On December 31 in Macau, Donnie Nietes and Kazuto Ioka will face each other for the vacant WBO Super-Flyweight title.
Not only is this a matchup featuring highly accomplished fighters, but both are two of the better fighters in the smaller-weight divisions. On paper this contest is about as close to a 50/50 fight as you can get.
Two three-division champions will do battle for a fourth divisional title. This is indeed one to the bigger match-ups of 2018 that happens to be on the very last day of the year!
Donnie Nietes (41-1-5, 23KOs)
Nietes is low-key one of the best fighters in the lower-weight divisions and arguably one of the best fighters in the sport for the past decade.
A former minimumweight, light flyweight and flyweight world champion, the fighter from Philippines is one of the best ring generals in the sport with a tremendous amount of experience. Well versed at every aspect of the game, he is best facing aggressive fighters because it gives him the ability to display his outstanding boxing skills and counter-punching ability.
Even at age 36, Nietes still has good hand speed and can move. So what are the weaknesses in his game? His punching power at super flyweight is still in question as this will only be the second fight in the division.
Additionally, the grizzled veteran is not quite as effective having to come forward as he is fighting off his back-foot at mid-range. Another weakness is opponents have had repeated success touching him with straight right hands.
Advice for Nietes
Establish the jab, pace and distance. If he can win the game of the jab, make Ioka come to him and if his age doesn’t catch up to him, Nietes has a great chance to win this fight.
Kazuto Ioka (23-1, 13KOs)
Just like his opponent, Ioka is also a former three-division champion in the same aforementioned divisions.
While Nietes didn’t win his first world title until his 25th fight, Ioka won his in only his 7th in less than two years as a professional. Additionally like Nietes, he is well schooled and fundamentally sound.
Ioka is essentially a boxer with good, solid power. His straight right hand and the left hook to the body are his best punches. In his only loss to Amnat Ruenroeng in 2014, he was forced to come forward and hunt down his elusive opponent.
He was never able to effectively cut the ring off and get to him with shots all fight long. When the Japanese star is forced to chase down elusive boxers, he’s nearly not as good. Another weakness is he tends to fight straight up.
Advice for Ioka
Find a way to get to Nietes’ body and fight at a fast pace. Since the opponent is a terrific defensive fighter with outstanding head movement, it may be tough early for Ioka to land head shots.
Because of this, it’s imperative for the Japanese fighter get home with body shots early in this fight. His left hook to the body is lethal and if he lands early and often, look out, we could see a stoppage!
Both fighters are good at all aspects of the game. However, I feel that Ioka is the naturally bigger and more powerful fighter.
Nietes is spry for a 36 year-old, however, he’s still essentially an older fighter that doesn’t quiet have the legs he had earlier in his career.
Ioka will find it difficult to get to his opponent early, but persistence will pay off as he will not have to deal with a super elusive target as he did against Amnat Ruenroeng. Over time, the younger fighter will find a way to land power shots and do great damage to the body.
As a result, Ioka will do enough work to eek out a decision. Youth will prevail!
By: Michael Wilson Jr.