Four Division champion Kazuto Ioka matches into 2021 in style after successfully defending his WBO junior Bantamweight title with an eight round Knockout victory over formerly unbeaten three divisions champion Kosei Tanaka on New Year’s Eve Ota-City General Gymnasium in Tokyo.
Ioka dropped Tanaka twice in the fifth and sixth round respectively before for ING a stoppage midway through the eight round of the scheduled 12 round battle, which served as the headlining bout for a TBS-Japan televised card.
Ioka went out firing in the opening round as he looked to establish authority but Tanaka , who looked to become a four division champion after, winning titles at the 105-, 108- and 112-pound divisions was quick to adjust to his attacks, immediately going behind his Jab. Tanaka connected a straight right hand and an uppercut, which Ioka took well before ending the round with a body shot and a combination to the head and body of the challenger.
Tanaka started better in the second round, landing numerous combinations with his hand speed that looked to be a big issues for the older champion. However, Ioka turned the fight to his favour by switching to power punching stuck with it till the bell. Ioka was more reliant on his defensive skills in the third round, allowing the younger challenger to outworks him.
By the end of the fourth round, both fighter’s had injuries from the battle though they both seemed less worried about them. Tanaka was already blessing seriously from his nose while, Ioka had a serious swelling over his eye lid.
Round five was a very competitive frame as both staged a back and forth display. However the champion came out on top with a knockdown. Ioka connected a left hook on Tanaka, that sent the Nagoya native tumbling to the canvas for the first knockdown.
Tanaka was worried after round five and looked to get himself back some authority. Tanaka recovered from the first knockdown and was fought his way back in the lead before he was sent back to the canvas with a huge right hand. The former three division champion was quickly to make it back to his feets but was then seriously down on the cards.
Tanaka showed his vasatility with some random switching from conventional to Southpaw in the seventh round but Ioka sensing danger was quick to avoid the younger fighter. Tanaka planned to attack Ioka’s body but the Tokyo based champion choosed to fight from distance and avoided believing too much on his power by chasing a knockout.
Tanaka came out this time with a conventional style, firing behind his Jab as he looked to gain an advantage over the 31 year old champion. Ioka was calm, playing defense but ones he had enough of the 22 year old, he connected a left hook that rocked and stopped his challenger in his tracks. The referee had no choice but to quickly step-in to end the fight.
The fight was ended at 1: 35 of round eight and Ioka was ahead on all three score cards at the time of the stoppage.
Speaking of his confidence after the first knockdown in round five. He admitted sensing the change in his temper and decided to show how superior a fighter he was.
“After he went down, I knew he had lost his temper,” Ioka said after the fight, as translated to BoxingScene.com by manager Taku Nagashima. “I told myself that this is the time to gather my composure and really show him that I am a superior boxer.”
Tanaka was handed the first defeat of his professional career and was denied winning a title in his fourth weight class in just his first try. He drops to a (15-1, 9KOs). He would have broken the record of the fastest to win a title in four different weight classes, if he was able to pull off the win.