Kazuto Ioka breaks down Jeyvier Cintron with body punches, retains title by decision
Facing a taller, mobile boxer, Kazuto Ioka leaned heavily on his body punching to pound out a hardfought unanimous decision victory over Jeyvier Cintron Tuesday at the Ota-City General Gymnasium in Tokyo, Japan.
Two judges scored the fight 116-112, while the third had it 115-113, all for Ioka (25-2, 14 knockouts), who retains his WBO junior bantamweight title for the first time. The win also raises Ioka’s record to 7-1 on New Year’s Eve, a boxing tradition in Japan that the Osaka native has come to embody.
Cintron (11-1, 5 KOs), a 2012 and 2016 Olympian from Bayamon, Puerto Rico, loses for the first time since turning pro in 2017.
The marks on Ioka’s face told the story of the early rounds as Cintron used his height and reach to box Ioka from the outside, taking a page out of Donnie Nietes’ game plan from split decision win over Ioka a year ago.
Ioka turned the fight for good in the middle rounds, digging body shots with both hands, taking advantage of Cintron’s lack of activity on the inside. The punches began to wear down Cintron, who had little left on his punches by the tenth, when he nearly collapsed from exhaustion after a combination to the body opened up a left hook upstairs.
Cintron showed guts in round 12, landing several punches on Ioka as he barged in without concern, though none of them deterred Ioka.
Cintron, 24, entered the fight rated no. 9 by The Ring, and was coming off a decision win over Koki Eto in August. Ioka, 30, is rated no. 3 by The Ring at 115 pounds. Ioka is in a world title reign in his fourth division, having defeated Aston Palicte by tenth round stoppage in June to win the belt that Nietes had vacated.