Kazuto Ioka destroys Kosei Tanaka in eight, defends WBO 115-pound title in dramatic fashion
Kazuto Ioka successfully defended his WBO junior bantamweight title by stopping Kosei Tanaka in eight exciting rounds at the Ota-City General Gymnasium in Tokyo.
Tanaka, a former three-weight titleholder bidding to join Ioka as Japan’s only male four-weight titleholder, started fast, but the defending champ kept a solid defense and used his jab effectively to work his way into the round.
The action flowed in the second and third rounds. Tanaka was the busier, but Ioka was accurate, particularly with the jab.
The challenger threw a vicious six-punch combination a minute into the fourth and Ioka picked up some swelling under his left eye. However, Ioka was also doing some excellent bodywork of his own and closed the fourth strongly, leaving Tanaka with a bloody nose.
Ioka was enjoying his strongest round of the fight in the fifth when he landed a picture-perfect counter left hand that span Tanaka around and dumped him on the seat of his pants. He rose and appeared to have his faculties about him at the bell.
With a minute remaining in the sixth, both men were exchanging when Tanaka was caught again by a counter left hook that dropped him. Brave to the last, he found his feet and fought back hard.
The hotly contested bout ebbed and flowed in the seventh with both having their moments, but Ioka’s smart jab and accuracy paved the way to victory. Midway through the eighth he landed a massive left hand on the inside that visibly hurt Tanaka and referee Michiaki Someye quickly jumped in to rescued the stricken challenger at 1:35.
Ioka (26-2, 15 knockouts) looked terrific and has aspirations of facing the likes of Ring champion and WBC titleholder Juan Francisco Estrada, WBA ruler Roman Gonzalez and former two-time WBC titlist Srisaket Sor Rungvisai in 2021.
At 25, Tanaka (15-1, 9 KOs) has time on his side to join Ioka as a four-weight titleholder, but he will have to iron out a few kinks in his game first.